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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jacaranda Time

Art by Deamer Dunn

Every year, for about six weeks over October and November, the jacarandas bloom in Nairobi. Clouds of breathtaking purple beauty, every flower a dancer in motion, against a backdrop of foliage, sunlight, rain, sky.

Jacaranda season is indelibly bound up with my memories of year-end exams. My high school driveway was lined by a glorious avenue of jacaranda trees. Before I entered the exam hall, I breathed in the trees with every sense sharpened by sleep deprivation, by acute concentration. When I emerged, giddy with exhilaration or despair, I let the extravagance of blossoms fill me, drench me, release me into the world again.

For over a decade, I've harboured a serious crush on the villanelle , ignited when I read Marilyn Hacker's marvellous memoir-in-poetry, Love, Death And The Changing of Seasons. I never got around to writing a villanelle myself. Partly because I told myself: "You don't do formal western verse forms." Partly because the nature of crushes is that you're scared to actually approach the object of your affections ;-).

But there's something about being home in Kenya right now. Jacaranda season, upcoming elections, 2008 bookings, creative turning points, the making of Part 2 of Migritude, wanting to clone myself to be on three continents at once, uncertainty about what comes next, all swirl around me. And I find myself reaching for the challenge of structured rhyme schemes. For the deeply satisfying discipline and music of five tercets that culminate in a quatrain.

It doesn't quite re-order the universe. Or provide a miraculous roadmap for the next two years. But yesterday and today, the lines of my first villanelle, thrumming in my body, made me intensely happy. I leapt across puddles, dodged splashes of muddy water from moving cars, paced them out along the highways and backroads of my city.


Blogger deamer said...

Reading my first villanelle
Well, I have probably read one before, I just didn’t know it. But thanks to Webster online and Shaila, I have now experienced this musical verse about flowering joy… my day is richer… And, they say you never forget your first!

12/02/2007 11:22 PM  

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