Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tips For Amateur Poets (aka Bryan Is Cranky Today, And Also Thinks He's All That)

If your poem is serious, the end of each line need not rhyme. In fact, convention is that serious poetry has longer lines, looser meter, weaker rhyme.

If you want to write about your friend who got their body burned off in a pencil-sharpener fire and then fell down a well and got drowned, sounding like Dr. Seuss will lessen the impact of your poem.

Plus, there's lots more to poetry, like alliteration, allegory, turn of phrase, how it looks on the page, and on and on.

However: if you must use the short-lines-strict-rhyme format (because how else will they know it's a poem?), please please please try to make it scan. This means give it consistent meter without having to pronounce words like they were French ("pa-PER clip" "vo-MIT"), and try to make it have approximately the right number of syllables per line (within 10%, say).

You're welcome.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, this quote:
"You must not think me necessarily foolish because I am facetious, nor will I consider you necessarily wise because you are grave."
-Sydney Smith


At Thu Nov 13, 07:07:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Re: In fact, convention is that serious poetry has longer lines, looser meter, weaker rhyme.

This may be true for modern poetry but not for older stuff. Rhymes aside, nearly all serious poetry before 1900 adhered to meter and most had shorter lines. All of Paradise Lost is written in blank verse -- strict iambic pentameter. Shakespeare's sonnets, another example.

At Fri Nov 28, 06:57:00 AM PST, Blogger Alan said...

There once was a man from Nantucket...

At Mon Dec 08, 10:13:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

Well, what do you know about it, unca? What are you, a... oh, a librarian, right. Oops. ;-)
Anyway, I take your point about older poetry. Sonnets, tho... I would consider a line in iambic pentameter getting on the long side, at least compared to the dr seuss-like poems i'm thinking of.
and weaker rhyme (held/field, husbandry/posterity) is fairly common...
anyway, thx as usual for adding insight/interest to the conversation.


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