Poetry Forms Originated by Nel Modglin

April is National Poetry Month, so we searched our archival collections for local poetry and/or poets to share with all of you. We came across a donation that we received 30 years ago, but we haven’t done extensive archival processing yet. The description stated it contained “poetry newsletters and publications, some original and some photocopies.”

We looked in one of the boxes and found a 3-ring binder with the cartoon character Ziggy on the cover dated 1981. Inside were hand-written notes by Davenport poet Nel Modglin. She researched modern poetry forms and developed a few new ones herself!

Here are some examples:

iowetta a poem of three stanzas. Each stanza is made of two couplets in iambic tetrameter and one line in iambic pentameter. The three pentameter lines all have the same rhyme. The subject is generally irony, fantansy, or adventure. Originated by Nel Modglin.

Modglin, Nel. The Rhymer, and Other Helps for Poets. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance, 1977.

lavelle a poem made of couplets and tercets, in the following order: couplet, tercet, tercet, tercet, couplet, couplet. The first and last couplets have identical rhymes. This poem is written in iambic tetrameter lines; it was originated by Nel Modglin.

Modglin, Nel. The Rhymer, and Other Helps for Poets. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance, 1977.

sonnet, Illini This form varies in syllable count, having 8, 10, 10, 8/8, 10, 10, 8/8, 10, 10, 8/10, 10 per line. The rhyme scheme is ABCA/BCDC/CDEC/EE. Nel Modglin invented this form.

Modglin, Nel. The Rhymer, and Other Helps for Poets. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance, 1977.

mānardina a poem of twelve iambic lines, having 4, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4/4, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4 syllables. First and last lines must rhyme. The third, fourth, ninth and tenth lines must also rhyme, but not with the first and last lines. This form was originated by Nel Modglin.

Modglin, Nel. The Rhymer, and Other Helps for Poets. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance, 1977.

Nell Louise Modglin was born August 11, 1904, in Brookport, IL. She was the 8th of 13 children born to Joseph and Lucinda (Simmons) Modglin. She married Sheridan Maynard on September 3, 1935, in Rock Island, IL. She moved to Ypsilanti, MI after her husband died in 1959.

She worked as a country school teacher in southern Illinois, a hydrotherapist at a Chicago hospital, a gift shop owner, and a secretary at the Univeristy of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She retired in 1965 and moved to Davenport, Iowa in 1966.

She was editor of the Brookport Independent weekly newspaper; associate editor of the employee newspaper of Construction House of Maxin in Guam; worked in the circulation department of the American Artisan Magazine; was a columnist for the Missouri Messenger; was a correspondent for the Paducah (KY) Sun-Democrat, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and Church of Christ periodicals.

Nel was listed in the International Who’s Who in Poetry and the Dictionary of Poetry International Biography. She was a member of several poetry societies including The American Academy of Poets, Poets Round Table, Ind., Kentucky State Poetry Society, and the New Jersey Poetry Society

Her poems were published in many anthologies, magazines, and newspapers, including the Quad-City Times’ Poet’s Podium (1970-1978), Modern American Sonnet (1954 – 1957), Fine Arts Discovery (1968 – 1973), Lyrical Iowa (1970 – 1972), Iowa Poetry Day Association (1972 – 1982), Pegasus (1972 – 1983), World Poetry Society Intercontinental (1972 – 1983), Prairie Poet (1973), Encore (1974 – 1981), Jean’s Journal (1974 – 1983), North American Mentor Magazine (1974), Fellowship in Prayer (1975), Writers’ Newsletter (1981 – 1984), Christian Writers League of America (1981), Our Greatest Poems of the Twentieth Century (1982), Parnassus Magazine for Writers of Poetry and Prose (1982), Rhyme Time (1983), The White Rock Review (1983), and Silver Wings (1984).

Her published books include To Light A Flame (1973), The Stones Would Cry (1975), Music At Sunrise (1981), Reaching Other Rooms (1981), Where Love Is (1982), and The Rhymer and Other Helps for Poets (1977).

You never know what you’re going to find in the archives!

(posted by Cristina)


Nel Modglin Maynard scrapbooks and writings, #1992-09, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa. https://archives.davenportlibrary.com/repositories/4/resources/230 Accessed April 08, 2023.

“Nell Maynard.” Quad-City Times. October 10, 1991.

“Finding The Right Word.” Quad-City Times. April 2, 1978.

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