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Using the end-words of the lines of a poem as the structural basis for a new, different poem.
The US critic Brian Henry writes: “With the sestina as a model, John Tranter has created the terminal — a new form similar to, but far more flexible than, the sestina in its emphasis on end-words. Taking only the line endings from previously published poems, the terminal can be any length, and the number of terminals possible in the English language is limited only by the number of poems in the English language. The form has infinite potential. Unrestricted to 39 lines as in the sestina, not limited to 14 or 19 rhyming lines as with the sonnet and the villanelle, not expected to repeat itself like the pantoum and the villanelle, and not tethered to any rhyme scheme or syllable count like the ballad, terza rima, heroic couplet, alexandrine, sapphics, or ottava rima, the terminal as a poetic form is vastly open to possibility. But because the existence of a terminal depends on a prior poem, it has the ultimate limit: the single poem. Thus, the terminal raises various issues about poetic form, conservation, usurpation, influence, and composition that no other form can raise.”
John Tranter’s terminal poems are ‘Grover Leach’ (from Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’), ‘See Rover Reach’ (from Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’), ‘In Praise of Sandstone’ (from W.H. Auden, ‘In Praise of Limestone’), ‘Paid Meridian’ (from Diane di Prima, ‘On Sitting Down to Write, I Decide Instead to Go to Fred Herko’s Concert’), ‘Trastevere’ (from Kathleen Fraser, ‘Re: searches [fragments, after Anakreon, for Emily Dickinson]’), ‘The Twilight Guest’ (from Barbara Guest, ‘Twilight Polka Dots’), ‘Thanks, Joe’ (from John Keats, ‘Ode on Melancholy’) (‘Thanks, Joe’ is an anagram for ‘John Keats’),, ‘Three Poems About Kenneth Koch’ (from Frank O’Hara, ‘3 Poems About Kenneth Koch’), ‘Snowy’ (from A.B. Paterson, ‘The Man From Snowy River’), ‘Elegy, after James Schuyler’ [now (2008) titled ‘Radium’] (from James Schuyler, ‘Buried at Springs’).