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Light that gives life, hope, joy, renewal

Dawn makes me cry, the light falling 
over the fence, the same time as it rises
up the sky, spreading out wider, soon
in all directions, entering all places,
becoming one with everything, the sun

light that gives life, hope, joy, renewal

one with the earth it covers and fills —
and I think how I am empty, empty of 
purpose, of meaning, of reason to be.
Finally I realise: I am empty of you, now, 
always, no matter how many sunrises.

This is in the ‘elevensies’ form pioneered by Australian poet Kerri Shying, who hopes others will adopt it too. In her book Knitting Mangrove Roots, we’re told that it ‘was invented spontaneously in conversation between Kerri and Kit Kelen, who noticed that this was how things were tending for her, and that 'an eleven liner could become a respectable form in its own right: a form any poet might attempt. Five lines either side and the middle line’s the title, that’s all there is to it.’

Having some acquaintance with Kerri through poetry projects we’ve both been involved in, and having recently heard her read some elevensies at a Zoom event, I bought two recent books of hers which showcase the form — Elevensies and the afore-mentioned Knitting Mangrove Roots  — and she urged me to try the form myself. At first I thought I would need to ape both her personal poetic style and her unique way with titles, but then I realised I only needed the latter. I also chose to use longish lines as she often (but not always) does. Having given it a go, I now perceive that I could use much shorter lines and more conventional titles if I liked. I’ll probably give that a try too. However I love the idea of getting away from ‘conventional titles’ even so (grin). Btw no-one has said the poem should work in sequence if the title line were removed from the centre, but that's an additional rule I have made up for myself when working in this form.

Aug 30, 2020 Sharing at Writers Pantry #35 at Poets and Storytellers United. 


  1. I'll have to try this one out. If I manage it even half as well as you've done here, Rosemary, I'll consider it successful. The emptiness in the closing lines is palpable; We're kinda on the same wavelength this week.


  2. I really like the Elevens format. I must try itout day!

  3. I love this form and really must have another go at it, Rosemary. I’ll keep it in mind this week. I have written a fair few poems about sunrise, but yours is so poignant and hopeful, and made me cry too. I love the way the light pervades the poem, starting by ‘falling over the fence’, so familiar and similar to the light that starts at the gate at the end of our garden.

    1. I've written an elevensie for Tuesday poetics over at dVerse.

  4. Oh those last two lines... that emptiness...beautifully expressed..but heartbreaking!

  5. Oh how sad, the emptiness for loss and longing. Ah but the dawn comes again and again reminding us left behind to keep on going, remembering and giving thanks

    Happy Sunday Rosemary


  6. There is, indeed, an emptiness that nothing can fill...

  7. The balance in this form really works with this poem. It gives me just the right place to breathe and the images/emotions are stunning.

  8. I've read this a few times and enjoyed the different layers of understanding I've found in each re-read. Maybe it's my mood this morning, or maybe it's 2020, that has me thinking about the ways joy and sadness, dark and light, bounce around my days.

  9. i have been saying to give a 'elevensies' a try but i haven't written one yet. it is a form i fell in love with immediately.
    the longing in the poem is so palpable.

  10. I love structure very much, the balance of 5/1/5. I believe that I'll try it one of these days, probably soon.

    Your poem left my chest tight and my eyes shining. The first stanza is rich with imagery that pulled me right into the speaker's headspace. Then, we get to the end, and it's impossible not to share in the pain, in the longing, in the spilling of tears. This is what they mean when they say bittersweet--beautiful and heartbreaking.

  11. This is moving and beautiful. Very sad to miss someone you loved so deeply You do have a reason to be. You beam sunshine on others through your writing ... on more people than you can imagine

  12. I liked the turn on the last stanza...the sadness of a sunrise. Unexpected.

  13. Reading this multiple times I wanted it to be as the title: "light that gives life, hope, joy, renewal" but it returns to sadness.
    There's nothing wrong with sadness in the context in our place in life.


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