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  #1  
Unread 04-30-2021, 09:37 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Default Bite-sized advice: A.E. Stallings

I posted the full video of A.E. Stallings' March 2021 Rattle interview under "The Accomplished Members" months ago.

Rattle just posted this three-minute highlight video. It is more accessibly-packaged advice on rhyming, suitable for sending to students. Enjoy!

(Or refute it, if you want, since this is a discussion thread.)

I will note that what Alicia says about increasing surprise by rhyming across parts of speech (rather than rhyming nouns with nouns, adjectives with adjectives, etc.) is actually a formal rule of prosody in some easier-to-rhyme languages, such as French. Further evidence that it works!

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-30-2021 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Typo
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Unread 04-30-2021, 10:47 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Thanks for that. I'll add a link to Alicia's little manifesto on rhyme, which I'm sure many of you have seen. Presto Manifesto.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 11:12 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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My most basic concept on rhyming is that one first needs an utter mastery of syntax, which amounts to [1] having a large store of syntactic patterns (riffs) so that has many alternatives in how one phrases/arranges a thought, and [2] having a large store of syntatatic patterns (riffs) in relation to specific meters, so that one has available at all times different ways of phrasing/arranging a thought inside a meter, whether one is phrasing across 1 or more lines.

The term "rhyme driven" can sometimes be a vague piece of nonsense but it often a way that someone communicates that the rhymer does not have a sufficient mastery of the resources of syntax, as in say, raw beginners and their yoda speak as they struggle and struggle to wrench a rhyme.

The next set of skills, to me, would be having an ear that can rapidly bring to mind various sound patterns, and then having a mind that can just about link any two given rhymes into some kind of a thought. Most everything I have written about can be dissected into exercises for a person to practice.

As an example that I just made up, one basic syntactic pattern (riff) that most anyone can recognize and use in iambic pentameter is a list:

Upon my desk are papers, pens, my phone,
And letters saying I love you to the bone
That I decided not to send: O you
Too often turn me darker shades of blue.

But to bring it back to what was said about Alicia's Stallings advice on rhyming across morphological categories, well, it all depends upon what effect you are looking for. Instead of giving do and do nots, I prefer to say: try it and see what effect it creates, and decide if that is the effect you want.

Last edited by Yves S L; 04-30-2021 at 11:23 AM. Reason: I found an improvement on my example of a syntactic pattern in a specific meter
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Unread 04-30-2021, 11:29 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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"A letter saying I love you to the bone"

If you are giving an exemplar to follow, wouldn't it fit better with iambic pentameter if it read

"A letter says I love you to the bone" ?
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  #5  
Unread 04-30-2021, 11:39 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Joe. If you want to be super strict, sure. It was a throwaway example that I hoped roughly illustrated the point. If I spent too much time on it, then I might as well be posting on Metrical.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 11:48 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Well, yes, rules are made to be broken, or to be riffed on in a transgressive way. The only unbreakable rule in poetry is Does what I'm doing work in this particular poem, for this particular audience? What flies in one circumstance falls flat in another.

That said, poets who keep maneuvering the same parts of speech to the ends of lines, over and over again, should probably expand their syntactical pattern book. Which is done by reading (and memorizing) the work of other poets they admire. (Or even other prose writers they admire. Or other wordsmiths, such as preachers.)

Many newer poets lack the patience to wade through contemporary poetry magazines to find the needles of modern poems that move them, among the haystack of modern poems that leaves them cold for various reasons. (I typically only like two or three poems in an issue of a form-friendly poetry magazine. It took me a long time to realize that this is normal, and that I'm actually paying my annual subscription to read just a handful of poems that move me.) So these new practitioners of formal poetry end up only reading poets from other centuries, and then they complain that modern readers won't let them get away with using exactly the same syntactical patterns that worked for Shakespeare.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-30-2021 at 12:11 PM.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 12:10 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Alicia herself doesn't always rhyme on different parts of speech. She wasn't trying to state an invariable rule, but rather was making an observation (as have many others, including Richard Wilbur) about the way doing so can take full advantage of the opportunities for expressiveness that rhyme offers. Of course she wasn't suggesting that a poem will necessarily be bad if it doesn't take advantage of this particular opportunity. Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, for example ("When in disgrace"), only has two rhymes that are made from different parts of speech, or four lines out of fourteen. I'm sure Alicia wouldn't fault the sonnet for bad rhyming.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 04:14 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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(Sidetrack!) out of interest Julie, what do you mean by "move"? Does a poem have to effect you on an emotional level for it to be a success; or can it not effect you emotionally but excite through its reinvention of language?
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Unread 04-30-2021, 04:53 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Charm, wit/wordplay, and humor can move me. Sure.

And of course a poem might knock the socks off everyone else but me. Clearly such a poem is a success, even if I personally don't care for it.
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Unread 05-14-2021, 06:53 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
[Wildly irrelevant comment deleted]

.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 05-15-2021 at 05:45 AM.
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