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The Abnominal Snowball


Well, when I dreamt up the abnominal, I had no idea it would have taken on a life of its own already by now. I’ve been pleased with how productive a form it is — seven poems in three weeks is a pretty good rate! — but it has pleased me tremendously that others have started to pick it up and write in it. Several people have done so as part of NaPoWriMo, and links are below. I suggest that you look at them before the poems are taken down at the end of this month, which is only seven days away!

To recap, here are the rules of the abnominal once again:

  1. The poem must use only words that contain letters found in the name of the dedicatee.
  2. The poem should be 20 lines long.
  3. It should be arranged in two-line stanzas, although other arrangements are permissible.
  4. Every two lines, regardless of the stanzaic arrangement used, should contain each individual letter of the dedicatee’s name at least once. It is perfectly permissible to use a letter that appears only once in the name more than once in a single word in the body of the poem.
  5. The title must be an anagaram of the dedicatee’s name.
  6. The opening and closing line should address or refer to the dedicatee in some form, with a strong preference for not using the name. However, the address in line 20 must not be a simple repetition of that in line 1; there must be some difference/transformation.
  7. There are no stipulations for line length or other metrical constraints.
  8. Rules 1, 4 and 5 are essential to the form. Rule 6 is more flexible.

(To be clear, I’m not claiming to be the first to have used the constraint in rule 1, just to have developed — and named — this particular form using it.)

Here are links to abnominals by others:

There may be others that I don’t know about, which is quite an exciting thought! Robert Peake has tried a variation on the form here.

I sent some of my abnominals out in a submission only today. They are the first ones to go into the wild to face an editor, and we shall see how they get on.

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