Why Terzanelles and Tai Chi?


Around 2015, I began searching for some mode of physical movement that could imbue my poetry with a body’s sense of flow, rhythm, and repetition. After experimenting with yoga and dance classes, I discovered non-martial tai chi.

While learning the Yang style 24 form, I was also seeking out an analogous poetic form that unfolded by means of slow, flowing, spiraling, balanced imagery and sounds. I tried out free verse, sound poetry, and villanelles. Finally I came across the terzanelle invented by Lewis P. Turco. The poems in this blog collection convey, I hope, my body’s freshened sensitivity to motion through time and space.

While doing some lite research into Spanish-language tai chi, I discovered an inspiring passage about tai chi’s connection to poetry. My translation: “Those who desire to write poetry must study the secrets of the Tai Chi form #384 called “Parting the Horse’s Wild Mane”.”  The form is likened to Pegasus, a constellation and mythical horse who was associated with the wellspring of Poetry in the Italian epic poem, Orlando Innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo.

by Therese L. Broderick