Ryme & Meter Online • September 13 2009

  • Slowly recovering from my August vacation.
  • Many discussions on various forums which, though interesting, are too changeable to reference.
  • If any readers would like to recommend sites or blogs please do! Feel free to recommend your own blog or poem if you like but please don’t post your poem in the comment field (provide a link and the first lines).
  • Search terms used to find these posts: Rhyme, Meter, Formal, Formalist, Poetry


Poetrybay: An on-line magazine for the 21rst Century

FALL 2009


Walt Whitman is considered the American progenitor of the wide, expansive ‘free verse’ style of poetry that puts aside rhyme and rhythm in favor of a more muscular, natural form of verse. So one would think that when a national poet is chosen to serve as the poet in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in West Hills, they’d choose a free verse style writer.

Not in 2009.

In choosing X J Kennedy as writer in residence at the WWBA, the association chose one of the key figures in the world of formal verse since he first began publishing in the late 1950s, and a man for whom advocacy of poems that use rhyme and meter has been a fundamental mantra.

Not that Kennedy sees any conflict in that. “In American poetry there are many mansions,” said Kennedy earlier this year, as he prepared to take on his duties as Master Poet and Poet In Residence at the WWBA. “I have admiration for someone who can write good free verse.”

Things have not always been so cordial…


George Kalogeris on C.P. Cavafy’s Collected Poems
The Sensuous Archaism of C.P. Cavafy: A review by George Kalogeris

…What Auden most likely meant by Cavafy’s unique tone was an irreducible trace element in the poet’s signature style, and not the tone of individual poems, each of which is dependent upon intricate effects of prosody.  In his deeply instructive, excellent introduction to his new translation of Cavafy’s oeuvre, Daniel Mendelsohn reminds us that Cavafy’s poems are “unmistakably musical”, and that one of the goals of his book is to restore some of the richness of Cavafy’s linguistic  texture through close attention to prosody, and specifically to matters of diction, rhyme, and meter…


Gail D. Welborn
Published 08/30/2009 – 7:07 a.m. CST

…Washington author, Renee Riva, writes with a catchy rhythm and fanciful sounding rhyme and meter. The rhyming Izzysounds will engage children and encourage their imitation of this humorous read-aloud book.  A book that features qualities not usually found in the animal kingdom, such as traits of  kindness and compassionate mercy.

Steve Bjorkman’s captivating illustrations portray Izzy Lizzy’s kind expressions and colorful dress. With umbrella in hand, she sports a large straw hat, as she slithers down the bayou. Jeb is bright yellow with black bee stripes and gossamer wings to complement Anastasia, the light purple spider. Filled with colorful flowers, foliage, trees and water, Bjorkman’s illustrations will capture and delight children’s imaginations….


Joel Nelson · Alpine, TX
Cowboy Poet

Interview by Josephine Reed for the NEA

…I had a good background in poetry. I had two wonderful literature teachers in high school who caused me to really fall in love with the sound of the words written and rhyme and meter, just the way that poets like Robert W. Service and Edgar Allan Poe and Rudyard Kipling assembled their words just fascinated me. They had such command of the English language and they could express an idea so eloquently and do it in rhyme and meter without detracting from the thought. And that takes a great command of the language to be able to do that…


International Examiner

“Breaking the Map”
By Na Young Kwon

…Lieberman describes herself as a “mixed-race Amerasian… growing up in a bilingual, bicultural home which shaped [her] basic understanding of the world.” While the poet favors prose-like stanzas for more structured forms that may utilize rhyme and meter, Lieberman does employ the Breaking the MapVietnamese “ca-dao”— “a genre of popular Vietnamese poems that stems from oral tradition, a sort of cross between folk song and nursery rhyme”— which she learned from songs her mother and grandmother sang to her. The ca-dao comprises a fixed form of “luc-bat” or “6-8,” which is marked by an alternating syllabic count for every couplet with rhyme patterns and tonal emphasis. The subject matter typically reflects themes of agricultural life—nature, seasons, animals and folk proverbs. The first section of “Four Folksongs” is a translated version from this genre…


Los Angeles Times

Nicholson Baker: Inside the author — and his alter ego

His new book, ‘The Anthologist,’ is a novel within an novel featuring a character who sheds light on his creator.

Baker is not Paul Chowder, for Chowder is in the thick of a crisis. He’s a poet in America in the beginning of the 21st century, problem one. The AnthologistHis girlfriend has just left him, mainly because he’s a pathological procrastinator. His one potential source of income, the introduction to a poetry anthology, eludes him day after endless day. But boy, does he love poetry. The novel is a course in meter, rhyme, inspiration; some well-known poets, some lesser known…¶

“I grew up writing poetry with meter and rhyme,” Baker recalls. “This is not good for one’s career. We’ve gone through this phase of childish experimentation when it comes to poetry. Now we’re having to relearn those finer things, things Tennyson and Swinburne knew at 14.” It’s not that he dismisses free verse entirely. So many poets he loves — Louise Bogan, W.S. Merwin, Mary Oliver — write in free verse. “I want them to be subversive and they can’t be if the orthodoxy is free verse,” Baker says, in a characteristic jitterbug with history. Clearly, his ideas for “The Anthologist” have been marinating for a long time…



Susan Wheeler
Assorted Poems
reviewed by Will Cordeiro
143 pp. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Hardback. $25.00. 9780374258610 hardcover

All That Glitters

Susan Wheeler Assorted Poems…It’s as if all we are left with are snatches of distorted song on a broken jukebox. This typical freewheeling stanza has the giddy verve of language spun in a cyclotron, throwing off new, short-lived, unstable semantic particulates.

The same process, however, begins to spin the day-to-day laws of macro-level sense-making out-of-control, caroming everything back into an undifferentiated cosmic alphabet soup.  The whole is held tenuously together by the thread of sonic association, the bumptious almost-meter and the loopy half-rhymes structuring its happy-go-lucky semblance of story along with the obsessive repetition at the end of the line.  It has gusto aplenty.  —But what the hell does it mean? (…)


  • Google must have just indexed this page. The article dates from 2005, but the topic interests me, so I’ve included it here.  In some previous posts, like those on Donne, I’ve speculated as to the way the Elizabethans might have pronounced our words.

The real sound of Shakespeare? (Globe theatre performs Shakespeare’s plays in Shakespeare’s dialect)
BBC News  | Joe Boyle

Posted on 07/19/2005 10:36:29 AM PDT by nickcarraway

Ever been baffled by the bard? Vexed by his verse? Or perplexed by his puns? London’s Globe theatre thinks it has the answer: perform Shakespeare’s plays in Shakespeare’s dialect.

In August the theatre will stage an “original production” of Troilus and Cressida – with the actors performing the lines as close to the 16th century pronunciations as possible.

By opening night, they will have rehearsed using phonetic scripts for two months and, hopefully, will render the play just as its author intended. They say their accents are somewhere between Australian, Cornish, Irish and Scottish, with a dash of Yorkshire – yet bizarrely, completely intelligible if you happen to come from North Carolina.

For example, the word “voice” is pronounced the same as “vice”, “reason” as “raisin”, “room” as “Rome”, “one” as “own” – breathing new life into Shakespeare’s rhyming and punning.


The New York Times

Def Poetry

Published: September 8, 2009

…To that end, the first half of the book is a triumph of jargon-free scrutiny. Bradley takes on rhythm — from the Book of RhymesGreek rheo, meaning “flow,” which is apt: flow is what rappers possess — and dissects rap’s “dual rhythmic relationship,” its marriage of rhymes and beats (with the beat defined as “poetic meter rendered audible”). Next comes rhyme: “the music M.C.’s make with their mouths.” “A skillfully rendered rhyme strikes a balance between expectation and novelty” — e.g., “My grammar pays like Carlos Santana plays,” per Lauryn Hill — and for rappers, rhyme “provides the necessary formal constraints on their potentially unfettered poetic freedom.” The chapter entitled “Wordplay” is the strongest, and that’s appropriate, since play is what hip-hop does best. We’re treated to lyric upon juicy lyric — not just from the usual suspects, to Bradley’s credit — filled with similes, conceits, personification, even onomatopoeia (“Woop! Woop! That’s the sound of da police,” KRS-One rapped)…


Alan Nordstrom’s Blog

Alan Nordstrom's BlogWhat you’ll find below is an upside-down anthology of sorts: a journal of my frequent nightly musings from January 2008 till now, in reverse order.

Much of what I write here is verse in traditional rhymed iambic pentameters, old fashioned in form but contemporary in topics and idiom. It asks to be read aloud so that the effects of rhyme and meter may be felt.


Poetry Guardians Reject Modern Verse

…While I was at Vermont Studio (VSC), I met Kevin Young.  He said my poetry was sing-song-ey and that I should write prose poetry instead.  I told him that I grew up with ballads and beautiful poetry that rhymed so that is my preferred method of expression.  Mr. Young said my rhymes were obvious; however, I highly doubt that as I have always used creative and abstract methods.  I would suggest that VSC match incoming artists to appropriate writers as I really didn’t benefit from the workshop with him…

  • The article mentioned by the Poetry Verse blog is also linked below.


Poetry Guardians Reject Modern Verse

‘A lot of people high up in poetry circles look down on rhyme and metre and think it is old-fashioned,’ said Bernard Lamb, president of the QES and an academic at Imperial College London. ‘But what is the definition of poetry? Poertry GuardiansI would say, if it doesn’t have rhyme or metre, then it is not poetry, it is just prose. You can have prose that is full of imagery, but it is still prose.’

The campaign is being spearheaded by Michael George Gibson, who said it was ‘disgraceful’ that the Poetry Society had failed to respond properly to his demands for a definition. ‘For centuries word-things, called poems, have been made according to primary and defining craft principles of, first, measure and, second, alliteration and rhyme,’ said Gibson. ‘Word-things not made according to those principles are not poems.’ True poems, he said, gave the reader or listener a ‘special pleasure’.


Paradise Tossed

…I’m one of those rare persons who greatly prefers formal poetry to modern free verse. I know I’m a minority, and I’m not here to argue the merits of each over the other. I simply want to offer up some resources for those who, like me, are of the formal school or for those who prefer free verse but would like to get better acquainted with formal poetry—especially fellow poets who would like to write some. One of the arguments I’ve heard against formal poetry is that it’s obsolete, antiquated, a relic of the past. On the contrary, the movement is alive and well, and there are a number of modern technological resources available to anybody with a computer. With the following five, I believe anybody can come to understand, enjoy, and write formal poetry…


Formal Feeling
Posted on August 31, 2009 by Annie Janusch

When translating closed form poetry, the formal elements (meter and rhyme) are often the first thing the translator abandons. It’s common to read sonnets in translation, for example, that dispense with the rhyme and meter of the original. I’m no neo-formalist, but when a translator comes along who’s able to convey not only the sense of the original, but an approximation (or recreation) of the rhythm and rhyme, I pay attention. George Szirtes, a prolific writer and translator born in Budapest, who has lived in Britain for most of his life, is that kind of poet…


“Breaking the Map”

By Na Young Kwon

2 responses

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