Writing Occasional Verse

I think I should clarify my title: by Occasional Verse I mean poetry that has been written for a special occasion. I do NOT mean when one sometimes – or occasionally – writes some poetry.

Occasional Verse has a long tradition in places like the United Kingdom. There they appoint a significant poet with the esteemed title of Poet Laureate to produce poems for special occasions, such as a royal wedding, a sovereign’s birthday or coronation and so on. Sometimes they are great; often they are mediocre.

A popular form of occasional verse can be found in the ubiquitous greeting cards that abound these days. Most is sentimental; little is of lasting worth, though it must be said that such verse can be inspirational, comforting and touching. Other types of occasional verse are written for special openings, birthdays, weddings, funerals, Christmas, Easter and so on. I’ve even written one for a Sunday School Christmas breakup.

As a part of my studies for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing I had to write some occasional verse as an exercise. We were asked to write a set of two poems, one a haiku and the other a tanka on the occasion of the Beijing Olympic Games. There were widespread protests in Tibet before the games. Below is a copy of what I wrote.

Beijing Olympics

Handpicked athletes strive
For glory. Years of training
In their chosen sport –
Victory their golden goal.
Aches. Tears. Pain. Disappointment.

Olympic fireworks,
Cheering crowds, fluttering flags.
Blood-stained dove of peace.

All right reserved. Copyright 2008 Trevor W. Hampel


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