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k3ng
July 9th, 2010, 09:03 PM
I am a music person. And a drummer. As such, I tend to lean towards poems that have delightful rhythms imbued in the sentences. Even when writing verses and rhymes I take joy in writing rhythmic sentences that roll off the tongue. I may not succeed very well, but that's certainly my preference.

I was reading earlier a poem on someone's blog and this particular piece of writing made an effort to rhyme in an ABAB style, but the sentences were of all different lengths. When reading it, I found the rhythm to be almost stuttering.

I used to think poetry was grounded in rhythm. My earliest exposition to some form of rhyme and verse or what I would call poetry at the time was the little tidbits in Roald Dahl's books. And that remains still my favourite form of poetry to read and write.

What are you thoughts about rhythms as it pertains to poetry?

Does it hold a high level of importance in what you read and enjoy? Is there such a thing as good rhythm/bad rhythm/perfect rhythm etc.?

I'm thoroughly aware poetry takes many different forms, but I want to concentrate on the rhythmic aspect of poetry. I've read much free verse and poetic expression, things that are truly beautiful. Yet, there is an unmistakeable joy when I read something that has incredible rhythm - a joy to read out loud even.

Do you think rhythm is a much 'older' or more 'old school' method of poetry writing? How much of rhythm do you think about when writing your works? Does it cross your mind at all?

Linton Robinson
July 9th, 2010, 09:39 PM
Beat in poetry is generally called "meter".
Oddly, the poet terms for meter, such as iambic and dactylic and trochaic are probably the only words in English to describe rhythm. I don't know of any musical terms that would tell you, "The beat is --/ --/"
One instance of beat ( --/- or whatever) is called a "foot". So "iambic pentameter" means each line has five "feet" of iambic meter, the basic da da boom repeated five times.

Obviously there's a limit to how complex a rhythm can be verbally described, but there are ways of expressing the basic polka or Irish jig beats in terms of poetic nomenclature.

Meter, like rhyme, has lost prestige in our times. There are some bad effects of this, as you note. At the worst, you see somebody writing something that careens along with an obnoxious beat, and keeps skipping the beat. The writer is unaware of the sonic rhythms, therefore not in control of them.
On the upside, being aware of beat and controlling it can help you. Often very subtly. Poets who write to read aloud tend to have this more under control than those who write for the page and nothing more.

I don't suggest that you rush out and learn these terms, then consciously apply them (like I don't think most writerly jargon actually helps writers much) but I think you might enjoy taking a look at a list of some of these metrics for your own information.
The important thing is not regimentation, but avoiding violating the esthetics of rhythm.

A great book for any poet (and you might have noticed I'm quite the opposite of a guy who recommends writing books) is "The Book of Forms" by Lewis Turco. It has this stuff, plus templates for sonnets and villanelles and sestinas and dozens of poetic forms you never heard of.
But hey, you can access the information online for free wikipedia has some voluminous pages on poetic forms
Here's there list of metric feet (huh, huh, huh "metric feet")
Foot (Prosody) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_%28prosody%29)

Linton Robinson
July 9th, 2010, 09:55 PM
By the way, a metric foot called the "stopped anapestic" (essentially "da da BOOM pause") is very prominent in rock, rap, heavy metal, etc. and notorious because it's said to cause stunning and fatique of the central nervous system.

Poetry is supposed to get inside your body, and the good stuff does.

Lil' Miss
July 9th, 2010, 10:07 PM
If a poem doesn't have rhythm, in my opinion it's just a bunch of pretty words. Poetry is all about rhythm. Rhyming? That's up to the poet. I've read some fantastic poems that don't rhyme at all. But I've never read a poem without a sense of rhythm and liked it.

Linton Robinson
July 9th, 2010, 10:50 PM
Well, there are on-page forms that don't rely on it. Concrete poems, for instance. You know, poem about a tree spaced so they make a figure of a tree or something.

But I agree that it's a very major part of lyrical poetry. And the thing is, it's there whether people realize it or not: just some is chaotic or incompetent.

Lady S
July 9th, 2010, 11:19 PM
I like to see some poetic quality to define a poem. I was into classical poetry long before I began to learn about modern poetry and there is much that I read that doesn't deserve the name, in my opinion. I write in both free verse and structured formats now but always try to inject some poetic quality, like assonance or consonance as well as beat. I do read my poetry aloud and I'm not satisfied until I feel comfortable with it that way. My favourite form is to combine modern and classical elements, something I've learned from my husband/mentor. A couple of poems in my blog are example of this, such as this one, http://www.writingforums.com/entry.php?20-B%E1dh-Bheanntraighe

In answer to the original post I'd say that if you're aiming at that rhythm in your work then you're taking a right road. I'm really not impressed by prose masquerading as poetry with very few exceptions.

Linton Robinson
July 9th, 2010, 11:23 PM
There has to be more to a poem than the lines not going all the way to the right side of the page.

Lil' Miss
July 10th, 2010, 12:24 AM
There has to be more to a poem than the lines not going all the way to the right side of the page.

True there.

k3ng
July 10th, 2010, 07:38 AM
Meter, like rhyme, has lost prestige in our times.

Why though? What has happened to it? Do you still look for it in the poetry you read though?

I certainly still do.

I know there's a thread that has a description of what poetry should or can be. I know it's hard to define what it really is, but to me rhyme and rhythm have always been a large part of it. It seems to have disappeared a little as you said. But why?

And also, what are the pros and cons of poets who've moved away from the old style of fixed meters and rhyming patterns that you've encountered?

And, Lady S, that kind of poetry really really gets me. I love it. It's so beautifully written, and is an incredible joy to read aloud to myself.

Lady S
July 10th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Thanks for the compliment. I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it.


There has to be more to a poem than the lines not going all the way to the right side of the page. You are so right. People who can't write poetry have made poetry hard to define to bolster their own argument. I'm convinced that those who knock any kind of form only do so because they can't achieve it. There is still a place for structured verse and a demand for it. The average joe will just raise his eyebrows at much of what is called poetry and there is still a demand for work that's well thought out.

For me, real poetry is just obvious for what it is, wherever you read it.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 04:53 PM
K3ng, I would say that both meter and rhyme fell victim to popular music. The increasing presence of music in people's daily lives from the forties on, linked with the increasing sophistication and poetic quality of lyrics, especially in the sixties on, were hard for poetry to "compete with".

Academia retreated into this whole, "it's just too complex and subtle for you booshwah to comprehend" thing and poetry lost out. Almost every family of my parent's generation would have at least one anthology of poems around the house. Not so any more. I used to recite poems at dinner table and in the car, and listen to my dad do so. And he wasn't any literati, he was an army lifer.

This might seem like a strained rationale, but it parallels as similar Modern trend in painting, which at least some major critics accept: that abstraction became the de rigeur default for painting because of competition from photography. Why spend 30 years learning the master system route to being the next Gerricault or David when you can buy a camera and produce perfect mimesis instantly?

It's a retreat from art into ART. And just as you walk into snooty gallery and museum shows full of empty canvases bolstered by lengthy bio/credential papers on the wall, poetry has reached the stage where you put in your time in the university, work up through the journals and network, and then just put out any sort of shit to applause because people can't really tell the difference between fine art poetry and computer generated drivel anymore. (and that's no exaggeration...I've seen it proven, done some proving of it myself)

Doesn't mean you have to go that way. Just if you want to make it in the big bucks world of pro poetry.

A suggestion.... seek out venues for reading poetry aloud. Or create them.

Baron
July 10th, 2010, 05:44 PM
There's still a place for crat in poetry, as there is in abstract art. It's the old deal of learning to do it properly before you start breaking the rules. The other side of this is that people will still buy stuff they can relate to rather than stuff they can't understand.

Things go in cycles and as classical influence found it's way back into popular music, with the prog rock bands of the late sixties to bands like Muses today, so the craft finds its way back into poetry.

I have to agree with Vicki's (Lady S) view, that many of those who knock crafted work do so because of their own inability to produce it.

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 05:58 PM
A suggestion.... seek out venues for reading poetry aloud. Or create them.

Those venues are often nests of performance poetry/spoken word. And the problem with performance poetry is that performance poetry pieces are often little more than theatrical bits of prose with lots of yelling and wavy arm movements.

A good argument could me made, I think, that the rise of spoken word as a distinct form contributed to the death of more formal poetic conventions, including rhythm, in the public consciousness. Poetry is more often written for the stage instead of the page.

Baron
July 10th, 2010, 06:07 PM
The demise of more formal poetic conventions is greatly exaggerated. Just read Carol Ann Duffy, the current Poet Laureate.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 07:12 PM
Those venues are often nests of performance poetry/spoken word.

Well, that settles that. Though many would note that most poetry readings in bookstores, coffehouses, etc. are just plain ol poetry reading. Which is, yeah, spoken word. ?????

The idea that spoken poetry was what eroded formal poetry is so peculiar I'd better not use any other more fitting adjective.

Actually spoken poetry predates the written word.
And the main reason for meter and rhyme in poems is traceable straight back to the bards and skalds. It's easier to remember. Homer didn't read from notes.
This same principle is why so many stage plays for kids are written in rhyme, as a pnemonic aid.

The golden ages of popular poetry were very much involved with oral performances, from family readings to Chattaquas and tours by famous poets. Vachel Lindsay was one of the "rock stars" of his day, packing in crowds to hear him, groupies, the works. Same thing in UK and Europe.

The idea that oral poetry suddenly caught on in the twenties or thirties and pushed poetry out of form is extremely odd. Or possibly just uninformed.


Yes, there are still poets who have success with form, even rhyme. But they are almost that famous oxymoron, the exceptions that prove the rule. Anybody showing up in academia and submitting something that rhymes in iambs is going to find himself paddling up the famous creek without the proverbial paddle.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 07:13 PM
Poetry is more often written for the stage instead of the page.

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For want of a better charaterization.

Baron
July 10th, 2010, 07:24 PM
Yes, there are still poets who have success with form, even rhyme. But they are almost that famous oxymoron, the exceptions that prove the rule. Anybody showing up in academia and submitting something that rhymes in iambs is going to find himself paddling up the famous creek without the proverbial paddle.

Faber and Faber, who published Pound, Plath, Elliot and many others are still the major independent publishers of poetry. A glance through their current list of publications would show that crafted work is still high on their agenda. It's still what a great deal of the reading public want as well. As I said, everything is cyclical and as the current trends in art have moved back to the representational, so the current trend in poetry is returning to style.

You mentioned a conflict between lyrics and poetry earlier. In reality much of the progressive music scene from the late sixties onwards was driven by poets who were using music to express their work. This is just a return to the minstrel bard. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell spring instantly to mind but there are some new ones around, like Conor Oberst.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 08:07 PM
Well, I'd call them songwriters with poetic gesture, but that's exactly what I'm talking about. How does a volume of verse compete for popularity with people like that?
Answer is, it didn't. Reading poetry, once a major item in American culture, has been almost completely extirpated. Sure you have literati and academicians reading it, but it's nothing comparable to the public in general.

And oral poetry, by the way, has made some inroads back into popularity. In certain niche populations. And the funny thing is, when you go to a slam or cowboy poetry reading--it rhymes and has meter.
The line between hiphop and oral poetry is so fine as to be invisible.

There's another way of looking at this by the way, a sort of conspiracy where academicians and small specialty presses have dragged "serious" poetry off into the ivory tower and abandoned the hoi polloi to what is, essentially, song.

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 08:47 PM
Well, that settles that. Though many would note that most poetry readings in bookstores, coffehouses, etc. are just plain ol poetry reading. Which is, yeah, spoken word. ?????

The idea that spoken poetry was what eroded formal poetry is so peculiar I'd better not use any other more fitting adjective.

Actually spoken poetry predates the written word.
And the main reason for meter and rhyme in poems is traceable straight back to the bards and skalds. It's easier to remember. Homer didn't read from notes.
This same principle is why so many stage plays for kids are written in rhyme, as a pnemonic aid.

The golden ages of popular poetry were very much involved with oral performances, from family readings to Chattaquas and tours by famous poets. Vachel Lindsay was one of the "rock stars" of his day, packing in crowds to hear him, groupies, the works. Same thing in UK and Europe.

The idea that oral poetry suddenly caught on in the twenties or thirties and pushed poetry out of form is extremely odd. Or possibly just uninformed.


Yes, there are still poets who have success with form, even rhyme. But they are almost that famous oxymoron, the exceptions that prove the rule. Anybody showing up in academia and submitting something that rhymes in iambs is going to find himself paddling up the famous creek without the proverbial paddle.

I did not mean to imply that oral, spoken poetry is a recent development. Obviously that is not the case. What I meant to say is that spoken word in its contemporary incarnation has eroded, if not superseded, more traditional forms.

For what it's worth, I am far from the only cat who has noted the above phenomena.

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 08:48 PM
?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????

For want of a better charaterization.

Things tend not to make sense when you quote them out of context.

Baron
July 10th, 2010, 09:03 PM
For what it's worth, I am far from the only cat who has noted the above phenomena.

People who claim to have been abducted by aliens can always find others to make the same claim.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 09:12 PM
Things tend not to make sense when you quote them out of context.

Yes, I can see you're attempting that.

Maybe there is a universe in which written poetry (like the stuff this site is swamped in) has been edged out by all those thousands of spoken word events we see around us at every hand.

But not this one.

k3ng
July 10th, 2010, 09:29 PM
I'm trying to type my opinion now and it's not coming out right.

It seems to me that songs at some point used to be almost poetry set to a tune. I think I get the idea that rhythmic poetry had to compete, as you would say, with that more modern facet of expression. And then it tried to define itself by becoming more abstract and a form of 'higher art'. Am I right in thinking so?

I would think, however, that it would reinforce the power of rhythm because while songs nowadays may not even necessarily include rhyme in their verses - which they used to - rhythm cannot disappear from it because that's what it's built around. Lyric writers cannot work around the fact that there are certain number of beats in a sentence and that has to go with time signature.

So while musicians are grounded in rhythm, it bewilders me that a lot of poetry has abandoned it.

Maybe I find myself drawn towards rhythmic structure more because I'm also a musician. Something about really good rhythmic structure appeals to me. What I don't get is the appeal of non-rhythmic poetry.

Baron
July 10th, 2010, 09:38 PM
There's some good poetry in rap. The problem for most is assuming that it's only what's on the written page that counts. That said, the books of an English lady, Pam Ayres, sell like hot cakes. It's humourous and it isn't avante guard art but it sells and it rhymes.

Pam Ayres - I wish I'd looked after Me Teeth

Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth,
And spotted the perils beneath,
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

I wish I'd been that much more willin'
When I had more tooth there than fillin'
To pass up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers
And to buy something else with me shillin'.

When I think of the lollies I licked,
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked.

My Mother, she told me no end,
"If you got a tooth, you got a friend"
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin'
And pokin' and fussin'
Didn't seem worth the time... I could bite!

If I'd known I was paving the way,
To cavities, caps and decay,
The murder of fiIlin's
Injections and drillin's
I'd have thrown all me sherbet away.

So I lay in the old dentist's chair,
And I gaze up his nose in despair,
And his drill it do whine,
In these molars of mine,
"Two amalgum," he'll say, "for in there."

How I laughed at my Mother's false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath,
But now comes the reckonin'
It's me they are beckonin'
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me teeth.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 09:55 PM
I think I get the idea that rhythmic poetry had to compete, as you would say, with that more modern facet of expression. And then it tried to define itself by becoming more abstract and a form of 'higher art'. Am I right in thinking so?

You understand that that's just a theory to explain it? There are others, I'd suppose (even some really crackpot ones, as you're seen).

And it's hard to get around the idea that oral poetry is somewhere in between. You could see a sort of continuum between popular songs, then hiphop, then slams, then poetry readings, then poems written on paper. With beat getting less important as we move along that spectrum, and also rhyme starting to fall away, as well.

If you go to reading, you might notice that even the blankest verse tends to take on a cadence when read. It's sort of a natural tendency.

Their is certainly room for a young poet with the drumming disease to move into some interesting areas.

Let me invite you, by the way, to take a look at Vachel Lindeay's poem "The Congo". (Which had a cameo role in "Dead Poets Society", by the way)

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 10:09 PM
People who claim to have been abducted by aliens can always find others to make the same claim.

Agreed. Yours are no different.

Linton Robinson
July 10th, 2010, 10:19 PM
Different from most poetry being written for stage, not page? Oh, I don't think so. Anybody else think so? Show of hands?
Or is it just cats?

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 10:19 PM
Yes, I can see you're attempting that.

Maybe there is a universe in which written poetry (like the stuff this site is swamped in) has been edged out by all those thousands of spoken word events we see around us at every hand.

But not this one.

Erecting straw men is a bad habit, friend. I suggest you take up smoking. It is healthier. You should also get out more. Go to some clubs, see some readings, participate in a few open-mics. Because you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

Written poetry has not disappeared. Nowhere have I said that.

Edgewise
July 10th, 2010, 10:21 PM
Different from most poetry being written for stage, not page? Oh, I don't think so. Anybody else think so? Show of hands?
Or is it just cats?

Mew. Here is the line in context. Just to play along with your pathetic dick measuring contest.


A good argument could me made, I think, that the rise of spoken word as a distinct form contributed to the death of more formal poetic conventions, including rhythm, in the public consciousness. Poetry is more often written for the stage instead of the page.

Show of hands?

ash somers
July 10th, 2010, 10:35 PM
hi guys and excuse me, could we please stay on topic?

we are all entitled to an opinion, so please be respectful

of the original intention of k3ng's initial post, if you must

stray into flames please take it to your private in boxes

thank you, and regards ash :)

Edgewise
July 11th, 2010, 05:14 AM
I am a music person. And a drummer. As such, I tend to lean towards poems that have delightful rhythms imbued in the sentences. Even when writing verses and rhymes I take joy in writing rhythmic sentences that roll off the tongue. I may not succeed very well, but that's certainly my preference.

I was reading earlier a poem on someone's blog and this particular piece of writing made an effort to rhyme in an ABAB style, but the sentences were of all different lengths. When reading it, I found the rhythm to be almost stuttering.

I used to think poetry was grounded in rhythm. My earliest exposition to some form of rhyme and verse or what I would call poetry at the time was the little tidbits in Roald Dahl's books. And that remains still my favourite form of poetry to read and write.

What are you thoughts about rhythms as it pertains to poetry?

Does it hold a high level of importance in what you read and enjoy? Is there such a thing as good rhythm/bad rhythm/perfect rhythm etc.?

I'm thoroughly aware poetry takes many different forms, but I want to concentrate on the rhythmic aspect of poetry. I've read much free verse and poetic expression, things that are truly beautiful. Yet, there is an unmistakeable joy when I read something that has incredible rhythm - a joy to read out loud even.

Do you think rhythm is a much 'older' or more 'old school' method of poetry writing? How much of rhythm do you think about when writing your works? Does it cross your mind at all?

Rhythm is a device. Imo, it is an essential device because it is all-purpose. Rhythm can be used to modulate the tempo of a piece or stanza. It can also be used to evoke/provoke a feeling in the reader. Novel use of rhythm can make a piece interesting and competent use of rhythm can make an otherwise mediocre piece a little bit more tolerable.

Bad rhythm...On the one hand, it is a matter of taste. Different readers will process the same piece differently, picking up on a flow where others don't. On the other hand, I think most people would agree that the best definition for "bad rhythm" is an absence of rhythm, or at least a point in a given stanza where an otherwise sound flow stumbles over something.

My personal feelings on rhythm and poetry...my work speaks for itself :mrgreen:.

Linton Robinson
July 11th, 2010, 07:07 AM
You are telling a DRUMMER that rhythm is a "device". And would probably resent snickers.Are words a "device"?

Edgewise
July 11th, 2010, 05:07 PM
You are telling a DRUMMER that rhythm is a "device". And would probably resent snickers.Are words a "device"?

King does not need you to snicker for him. He will do it of his own accord.

Rhythm in the context of poetry is a lyrical device. And words themselves are certainly devices.

Linton Robinson
July 11th, 2010, 06:10 PM
Rhythm in the context of poetry is a lyrical device. And words themselves are certainly devices.

LOL
That's even better than most poems being written for stage instead of page.

Now rhythym is a LYRICAL device? Breathtaking.
And words are not like elements of poetry but devices. Could be dispensed with entirely. Enlightening.

Baron
July 11th, 2010, 06:13 PM
LOL
That's even better than most poems being written for stage instead of page.

Now rhythym is a LYRICAL device? Breathtaking.
And words are not like elements of poetry but devices. Could be dispensed with entirely. Enlightening.

The manner in which words are applied is a device, Lin. In what some call poems they have even been dispensed with, so called poems being written in binary code and such.

Linton Robinson
July 11th, 2010, 06:22 PM
The manner in which words are applied is a device, Lin. In what some call poems they have even been dispensed with, so called poems being written in binary code and such.

Most would refer to the "manner in which words are applied" as style. "Device" is a lot more specific term than that. And sure as hell does not include "words" or "rhythm".

Just out of pure, sincere curiosity... where does this stuff come from? You can spend years in college, and around poets and poetic publishers, then step in here and here these things. From whence? Seriously. Just made up on the spot? Some new theoretical structure being taught somewhere?

Is this just nutiness like "most poems written for the stage" or is there ANYTHING behind it? And if so, what?

Baron
July 11th, 2010, 06:26 PM
Simile is words, simile is a device; metaphor is words, metaphor is a device...

Basic English language class stuff really, Lin.

Linton Robinson
July 11th, 2010, 07:07 PM
Well no, not really. Similes are words doesn't mean "words are similes", And the fact that there is technique to laying brick doesn't mean that bricks are techniques.
Basic logic.

k3ng
July 27th, 2010, 02:13 AM
I cam across another case of this today. I quote this from a public blog in a newspaper website.

"Ah Beng clatters around in clogs,
Politicians jump from party to party like frogs.
So many ordinary people put up blogs,
Some as petty as their drains are blocked!

Seriously why do you put in words your thought?
What is it you sought?
Is there a battle you wished you had fought?
An issue no one has brought?

Some come to share their wisdom
Others hope to get the spoils of the kingdom.
Some utter in complete random,
Stifling basic freedom!

With English as good as the Queen’s
Some write what many have not seen.
Some write as if they haven’t been weaned!
English that is so green!

Let’s accept them as they are.
All these talk can’t take us far!
It’s like aiming for the stars,
Better yak drinking in a bar!"



This kind of writing totally turns me off in terms of rhythm. Put aside the small errors and focus on the rhythm.
What do you think?

Richard.E.Craig
January 22nd, 2011, 01:18 PM
I don't know of any musical terms that would tell you, "The beat is --/ --/"
Poetry and Music are in fact the only language(yes music is a language)that is arranged exclusively by beat and meter.This is in fact the very thing that sets poetry apart from other forms of written language, and what makes poetry separate from prose.The beat in music is set by its time signature 4/4 and its speed by Tempo ect.Yeats used musical notation as a composition tool for his poetry.

Slugfly
January 26th, 2011, 06:24 AM
@Keng's quoted poem (several months old) - yes, if somebody is going to rhyme they had better try to have rhythm too. Rhythm needs to come before rhyme. Both devices could reasonably be done without (not necessarily advisably) but if something rhymes AND doesn't have rhythm, it sounds like the writer defines: Poetry (n.) short rhyming lines.