Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give thinks

In about a month, the new site will be up. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to work everything (if anyone knows how to use drupal, I am ready to be schooled) but at the very least I'll just steal some blog architecture and build the new magazine that way.

So I haven't read much poetry lately -- other than the poems I've been forced to teach my students (really, who makes these awful "literature" workbooks?), but I find myself wondering how to construct my next poetic project.

I'm planning to write a long narrative poem (big surprise there) about Korean War POWs. The problem, the one I (and Milton) always find in English poetry is how to construct the thing. The last lengthy narrative I wrote was in a bluesy sort of Beowulf-like meter that was far more accentual than accentual-syllabic. It was surely fun, and I've used it in my stalled fairy-tale project (retelling a dozen fairy tales without magic), but I'm thinking the Korean pieces will be shorter (the previous poem is 2,000 ish lines long and divided into 6 sections and the fairly tales are about 400 lines each) by an order of magnitude (about 30-40 lines). With something this short, I'm tempted to use rhyme as well


rhyme is so dangerous in American poetry. It can be gotten away with in song, because all songs are a little bit silly (or playful? better term?). I'd like to embrace the ludic in these lines but, geez, I'm talking about brainwashing and the collapse of humanity and all -- heavy -- and I'm wondering if the rhyme will trivialize it.

So I'm debating a few things -- the first is to look at some popular lyrics of the late 1940s and very early 1950s (you know, pre-rock) and play with the way they rhymed, this often involves a lot of internal rhyme and slant rhyme (assonance?), which might be awfully fun to play with.

Another is to look at the poetry that would have likely influenced the narrator. I'm thinking ww1 war poetry and the early moderns -- but I don't want to slip into the solipsistic narcissism of the moderns -- been there, done that, have 4 or 5 dozen impossible poems from it.

The final is just to play with rhymes -- nothing as insane as amphisbaenic rhyme (one sonnet in that was more than enough) -- like again slant/near/half rhyme and internal rhyme -- and rhymes in weird places. A little prep work with writing Canzones has given me a feel for internal rhyme -- but a great danger of rhyme is that it can speed things up.

So, readers, from my daily Canadian to folks as far as Indonesia, what are your favorite sorts and examples of imperfect rhyme? How do you puzzle out the difficulty of rhyme in English?

What are your favorite songs from 1940-1953?

1 comment:

Kirby Olson said...

Korean war memorial in verse? I like the idea a lot.