You may have stumbled on to this blog through a lot of places. Half of them try to gut what I'm saying and the other half seem interested. Apart from a general rise in the quality of Strong Verse submissions, I haven't gotten any written feedback. Certainly none in the way of a narrative poem.
I was talking with one of my good friends (who doesn't have a site I can link to, though she teaches here) about this and she said that perhaps poets are afraid to fail.
Perhaps, she said, the reason that poets hide behind the cool Lou Reed shades of impenetrability and the avant garde is that poets are afraid to fail.
After all, the coolest thing about being cool is that no one knows what you're talking about. That's why obscure bands and poets and artists are the very coolest thing of all -- no one knows about them. To make this worse, all the cool cats know all the other cool cats -- and think, like China, that once they know a thing it is known. I.e. if the norms don't know about it it don't matter because they ain't cool.
So, it's cool to write poetry that Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, Walter Mosely, and Stephen King-o-philes will never read or care about because that's what makes the poem cool.
Let me tell you something, poet.
You. Ain't. Cool. (fifty thousand dollars in monopoly money if you can tell me what poet popularized that desecration of syntax -- the one word sentence)
You know why you ain't cool? Because you write poetry. You are a nerd. You are such a nerd that if you don't know the answer to the above challenge you are looking it up right now. That's right. Nerd.
And I know, I KNOW that nerds want to be cool. How? Because I am a nerd.
Guess what? We aren't. We don't play football, we don't sing in rock bands. We don't release rap albums after we're dead. Nope. We just write down fancy words and most of us don't even read them out loud.
This is not cool.
So get over the post-modern desire to be a hipster. You aren't avoiding failure because you're cool -- you are embracing failure because you've isolated yourself so much that your work is completely marginalized.
Americans spend as more on porn every day and a half than they do all year on poetry. You know what this means? This means that the poetry being produced in America is 1/216 as interesting as poorly lighted chickenheads doing the a.t.m. for cash.
You, Mr. and Ms Hipster are not cool. In fact, you are lamer than porn. Seriously. You've got issues.
So what to do about it?
Here's an exercise.
Think about the average American reader. If you aren't sure what this is, imagine that you have never listened to NPR, read the National Review, set foot in Whole Foods, yachted, or gone out of the country. It's okay -- you're only imagining things. You are the average reading American. You graduated High School. You probably went to college. You did not major in English. Heck, you probably skipped the liberal arts all together. You wrote some poetry or had a boyfriend or girlfriend who did. You loved nursery rhymes and Shel Silverstein when you were a kid. You even liked a few poems in your high school English class. Maybe. But then you took Honors English or some required college class where the teacher threw Pound and Ginsberg and
This is the reader we need to reach -- the reader we're writing for. Don't EVER tell me "I just write for myself." If that is true, then why on earth have I seen your work? Did someone steal it and send it to me? No? Oh that's right, you gave it to me. If you're just writing for yourself, why show your work to anyone?
So you have to write for someone. Don't write for the cool kids -- the hipster empty poets. They clap because they're terrified of silence.
Write for someone who actually exists. Write for someone who might hate your work.
Write for real people.
Monday, March 31, 2008
You may have stumbled on to this blog through a lot of places. Half of them try to gut what I'm saying and the other half seem interested. Apart from a general rise in the quality of Strong Verse submissions, I haven't gotten any written feedback. Certainly none in the way of a narrative poem.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I suppose that I feel about most modern poetry the way I feel about string theory
which, to quote from a master, signifies nothing.
Sure, people, I know it's interesting work. It's a lot of fun to erase words and pretend you've written a poem or to master the villanelle. Experimentation is important -- it stretches the art, lets us know what can be accomplished. It's fun! But it's not what sustains art. Yes, I understand you're enjoying yourself,
but so are self-pleasuring monkeys at the zoo.
And while wanker monkeys are funny to look at, they don't propigate the species.
To steer back from the impending allegorical trainwreck, let me simply say the following for clarification:
I am championing narrative poetry not because I hate lyric poetry or because I think that no one should write it.
I am championing narrative poetry because I know that stories connect more immediately with people than descriptions. And what I want poetry to do, more than anything else, is connect with the most people it possibly can. Because I know that right now, today, the majority of American readers (approximately 100 million people) aren't reading that much poetry. They certainly aren't buying it. I think that we, as poets, need to stop blaming publishers or readers and start looking at what we are doing wrong. The most minute distillation of this that I can say is --
that we need to write better poetry
that our poetry needs to connect with as large an audience as possible.
Many people believe that the two goals are irreconcilable. I say bull. We need to challenge ourselves to write poetry that is as experimental, difficult, and intricate as anything the most calculating language poet/modernist/post-modernist can dream of that is still readable by the majority of Americans.
Isn't that a far greater challenge than just being a Jackson Pollock of words?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Note: most of this post has nothing to do with Eliot or his lack of depth -- just how poets respond to each other.
So I'm a browsin' on them interwebs and I come across some ridiculousness about Eliot having a lack of depth. Apart from this being utterly ridiculous, people were disagreeing with idocies such as:
"I think poetry is too personal to dismiss any one poet as overrated. If it doesn't speak to you, then it doesn't, and I don't believe you should force it. But don't look down on other people who do see beauty in the words."
Seriously -- Oh Charlie Crist what is wrong with you people?
Perhaps much of the problem lies here, but surely we CAN NOT believe that poetry being "too personal" makes it immune to all criticism? The above quote represents everything evil and rotten about today's poetry.
Wishy-washies think that every fart is sacred, especially when it comes at the end of a pen. This applies not only to their own egotistical fartings but, in an insane sociopathic form of egalitarianism, to every one else's farts as well. Even when you can tell the work stinks to high heaven, there is still some onus to labeling it as excrement.
Why is this?
Apart from the reference above, I think it has to do with two ideas:
One -- don't insult the establishment. I have just done this. Ronnie is pretty much established. You don't want to do this because they control all the gates of publishing and the keys to the kingdom of being a "poet." This is hogwash. If you are unsure of this, read below.
Two -- that saying, out of hand, "this work is terrible -- it is not only not poetry but it is not even literature" somehow means you "don't understand" the work. Let me tell you -- if someone has to explain their poetry to a literate person (one of the 100 million Americans who read 2 or more books a year) then THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Perhaps they are not writing poetry. Perhaps they are clouding their lack of talent in the smoke and mirrors of academia, shock value, and pretension.
Perhaps the Emperor has no clothes.
The problem with this approach is that, as I have said before, once "anything" can become poetry, "everything" is poetry. Which means that nothing is. Just like Syndrome wanting to give superpowers to everyone, the dilution of what poetry means means that poetry means nothing.
So -- for today, after you read this blog and send it to your friends and continue the discussion about how to revive narrative poetry and kill off all the over-formulaic lyric verse we have now,
think about how we can disengage ourselves from the weak-language of faux-egalitarianism and begin to write criticism in a way that has meaning.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Modern poetry is sick. It's dying in its hospice bed and we should walk away from its cranky carcass before the stench of colostomy and muscle rub leaves us brainless. It's not like we're in the will anyway.
From the image of its corpse I propose a new direction for poetry. For the last century we've been tied into a strangulating mode of creating, producing, and promoting poetry. To wit: Artsy poets write impenetrable crap; Artsy journals with tiny circulations publish it (Poetry has a circulation of 30,000 – why do we want our work in it? Not because we want readers), no one reads the publications or the poems in them, and the publication line on a CV gets artsy poets jobs where they teach impressionable others that accessible poetry is evil and their excrement is the only rose worth smelling.
I propose, instead, the following solution:
To change how poetry is made, consumed, and thought of. This means altering the production, distribution, and acceptance of modern poetry. I will deal with each aspect of the solution individually.
To change production of poetry we need to shift toward narrative verse. This is an easy task, as nearly all poetry published today is lyric poetry. Almost no one is writing or publishing narrative verse. This alone can explain the marginal state of modern poetry because people love stories. They crave them. They pay billions of dollars a year on movies, cable bills, novels, and video games just to experience stories. But they don’t turn to poetry. Why? Poetry can tell a story with such power that the reader or listener's body chemistry alters to fit the rhythm of the line. Nothing else can do this. But people don’t think of poetry because poetry no longer tells stories; it no longer entertains; it has become art for a dying art’s sake. When we ignore narrative verse in favor of the lyric we are depriving poetry of its natural audience.
Part of the reason has to do with today’s imbalance of lyric and narrative poetry. Lyric poetry is poetry that describes objects, feelings, and abstract concepts. Examples range from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet CXXX” to Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” to Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday” to Ashbery’s “Just Walking Around.” Narrative verse is poetry that tells a story – from Poe's “Annabel Lee” to Jarrell's “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” to Forche’s “The Colonel” to Homer's Odyssey.
Poetry traditionally has had its greatest and widest appeal when there was a balance between lyric and narrative verse. No such balance exists today. In the pages of the major poetry journals you will find many pretty words and almost no stories. Month after month, quarter after quarter, publications print variations on the same ideas and wonder why their circulations remain insignificant. Readers are drawn to stories in a way that descriptions and ponderings can never match. The power of narrative verse keeps them reading and teaches them how to read poetry, so that they may enjoy both narrative and lyric verse. When there is no substantial volume of narrative verse to entice readers, interest in poetry subsides.
While an overemphasis on lyric verse is not the sole problem of contemporary poetry, it has allowed poets to ignore not only the structure of narrative but any structure at all. In writing narrative verse, we must never fall into the trap set by modernists and sprung by language========= poets and new formalists – that how the poem is saying something is more important that what it says. It is this emphasis on form and formlessness at the expense of content that drives away the lay reader of poetry. We can avoid this trap by committing our narrative verse to five points:
Our verse must:
be in the common tongue
bring us together.
For our verse to be clear it must be fathomable on the first read. This does not mean that our verse cannot be complex. Indeed, it must be unless we wish to be some soulless versifier. But complexity is only a part of the picture. If no one can possibly understand our poems without a decoder ring, we’re doing it wrong. Most readers don't want to decode poetry – they just want a good story. If a good story is there, they will read it. If it can be peeled and peeled, revealing layers like Eliot's multifoliate rose, then we have done a good job.
For our verse to be timely, it must be relevant to people working and paying and living and dying right now. It must depend on neither allusions from mythology, nor private experiences but be firmly secured in the present. Personal demons and classical gods may be important and relevant to the poem-at-hand but they are without meaning if they cannot be made relevant to the reader.
For our verse to be memorable, it must be beautiful, both in sound and image. If we aren't writing our poetry with an ear for how it sounds out loud, we aren't writing poetry. Furthermore, if our beautiful word symphony doesn't make any sense, we're writing music, not poetry. Poetry is the syzygy of image, sound, and form – all three must be in balance to have a poem. We must also strive to make our poems ring in the ears of our audience. We should ask ourselves and our first readers “what lines from this poem are memorable?” Then we should work our words until its lines stick in our readers’ heads like hooks in a pop song.
For our verse to be in the common tongue, it must be written the way we speak. Why do we eschew contractions in poetry? Why do we embrace archaic reversals or literary paper language? No one speaks that way – and as poetry is in many ways a perfection of speech, we must reflect and perfect current speech patterns. Listeners should hear our poetry and tell themselves "this is the way I would speak."
For our verse to bring us together, it must be uplifting. This is not to say that that we can't tackle difficult or deep or depressing subjects, quite the contrary. What poetry should do is present difficult subjects in such a way that hope is offered to the world. Remember that “The Waste Land,” for all its bleak obtuseness, ends with a prayer that all will be well. Poetry cannot be uplifting if it is engaged in self-referential navel-gazing. Solipsistic, pretentious, and inscrutable poems serve only to confuse, confound, and drive away readers.
Print is not dead. It is, however, brainwashed. Less than three million books of poetry sold last year. Mainstream publishers rightly ignore it. Moreover, small poetry presses are entirely subsidized by universities, endowments, and/or contests. This means they are beholden to the establishment and to publishing arcane academic poems. They don't care about accessibility, the public, or promoting what they publish because their survival doesn't depend upon these things.
Luckily, we are left with the internet, a largely maligned section of publishing with the academy – but we aren't trying to get tenure; we are trying to change poetry. The internet affords us a much easier way to distribute poetry in its natural form – as audio. We can create videos with text to accompany readings, embed .mp3s of readings into web pages – there are nearly limitless ways online to bring poetry back to what it should be – something that both sounds and means good.
If you worry that internet publishing means we won't be getting paid for our poetry or able to control our copyrights, then you need only to look at homestarrunner.com, xkcd.com, or giantitp.com. These websites wholly support their creators through distributing creative content. People will pay for good content. Just like Radiohead's In Rainbows, distributing content for free only means that more people will come in contact with your work. If it is good, they will find some way to reward you – buying shirts, hitting a paypal donation button, etc. Any of these nontraditional forms of payment far exceed payments by poetry publications. Strong Verse is perhaps the only online publication that pays its authors ($10 a poem) and The New Yorker, the highest paying poetry publication pays only $150 per poem. Allowing our audience to pay us directly for our work will, even with a handful of readers, easily outstrip these token payments. But don't worry about money – worry about your work and your readers.
There are five major internet outlets for distributing poetry:
Emails are a simple and effective way to get our poems out to people. How many forwards do we get a day? Though we don't read most of them, what if one of them was the opening lines of "The Charge of the Light Brigade"? Would we keep reading? Would we pass it on? A great poem is certainly better than a story about how Barack Obama doesn't say the pledge or how someone’s cousin made money by forwarding “this very same email!” If we make a list of our contacts and send them a poem, they can keep it or not, but we may delight our friends and relatives with our words. We shouldn’t deny them the chance to love what we say.
YouTube is its valuable because we can harness its unique power to distribute poetry in its primal, aural form. The accompanying visuals can be anything – us reading, a background with text, a "poetry video" – it doesn't matter. What does matter is that YouTube allows us to get great poems into the public mind. If people will watch a father singing about his kids to the tune of "Canon in D", they will listen to a well-written, body-moving poem – and forward it to their friends.
We should each have a blog (I have two). We should comment and post on our blogs and forward them to others, digg them, etc. We should also find other poetry blogs and comment on them, contact their authors, and present our ideas. If we are not communicating with the world of poets, we cannot change poetry – and if we are not communicating with the reading public, we will never convince them that poetry has changed.
We should be promoting accessible, narrative verse on poetry forums. But we must be careful in a world of flame wars not to engage or defend ourselves against the blind and the stupid. We can’t get caught up in pointless arguments – if it is clear that the people in the forum don't care what we have to say, it is time to move on without looking back.
"Websites" covers a lot of ground. This category can be broken into networking websites – like myspace.com, meetup.org, and facebook.com; publishing websites – everything from strongverse.org to nytimes.com; filter websites like digg.com and reddit.com; and personal websites.
With networking websites like myspace.com, we can find like-minded good writers and show them the world is not wholly against them. We can also distribute our poems to friends who will, especially with encouragement, forward them on to their friends. If we can just make a poem as interesting as a survey, we will have hit gold.
Publishing websites as a category is best divided into new and established sites. We should create our own publishing websites in order to directly control the distribution and promotion of our work. Established poetry sites, like Strong Verse and Loch Raven Review may be responsive to our work and reviews. Large media sites like nytimes.com and National Review Online will be interested in any content that will bring new users to their advertisers.
Digg.com, reddit.com, and del.icio.us are websites that allow users to popularize web content by sharing and voting up interesting sites. These filter websites are a great tool for spreading the word. If you have a personal website or edit a publishing website, adding digg and reddit buttons to your site will help increase your visibility. A concentrated effort by even a few dozen readers will get our poems linked on these pages – and every time someone clicks that link and finds a beautiful, clear, narrative poem, we will have gained another reader.
Personal websites are, of course, your website with your name – gmpalmer.com (not that I've done anything with it. . .). These should be biographic with links and texts of poems we've already published (we should distribute new content through the above channels). These are best suited for disseminating information and philosophies – controlling what we say and believe before others can do it for us.
Once our work has begun to take hold in the world of readers and writers, we can begin to work toward canonization, that is, formal acceptance of clear, narrative verse. This will be a difficult process, as a great part of the Modernist ethos was the denigration of accessible, narrative poetry.
Canonization is achieved through two different ways. The first is textual – reviews, scholarly papers, etc. The second is positional – faculty postings, leading workshops, etc.
Written canonization begins with simple praise of our work and distributing it to as wide a readership as possible. After this begins, we can write and elicit reviews of our work. Reviews should be seen two ways. First we should make an effort to review each others work in online and print journals. This has been a core tactic of all literary movements. We should also work to get our poems reviewed by established critics. This will increase both our work’s legitimacy and visibility. After reviews come scholarly papers. These range from informal college essays to theses, dissertations, and books of critical theory. Though we may not have much control over this last category, we may be able to influence friends currently in school to look our way for research material.
Parallel to these written forms of canonization are inclusion in conferences and workshops, positions on the faculty of universities and textbook selection committees, and inclusion on textbook and anthology creation committees. Here we can directly influence both writers and readers in a much more direct way. Canonization is a far-away goal, to be sure, but any steps we can take – from writing reviews to teaching others to getting on textbook committees will be invaluable.
This will all be a lot of work, I know. But if you're dissatisfied with the empty poems you see touted as fresh and new – if you want to work to make poetry relevant to the two hundred million Americans who read, email me and let's get started discussing how to do what needs to be done.
Monday, March 10, 2008
English prosody, the study of the rhythms of language, is based on the patterns of stress found in everyday speech. In the English language, all syllables are either stressed or unstressed. English metric poetry is built upon varying the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Recognizing the patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in English is quite simple.
In English, the stress of the syllable is generally based on two things: either its importance in the etymology of the word or its placement around stronger syllables. The former applies to most nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. The latter applies to single-syllable pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions and linking verbs. With few exceptions, articles are never stressed.
For nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, the basic rules are:
1: Single-syllable nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are always stressed:
NOW the MAN had RAN in his BLUE PANTS
2: Bi-syllabic non-compound nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are almost always stressed at the root, that is, prefixes and suffixes are not stressed:
UNDer the PURPle CLOVer the SHOPer SHUDdered
The few exceptions to this have to do more with accepted pronunciation than with actual logic. "REboot," for instance, ought to be pronounced only "reBOOT." In usage, however, it is pronounced both ways.
Note: bi-syllabic prepositions also follow this pattern:
UNder, OVer, beSIDE, etc.
3: Multi-syllabic nouns, action verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are again almost always stressed at the root. Prefixes and suffixes or their constituent parts, however, may be stressed if there is an unstressed syllable between them, the stressed root, and the next stressed syllable:
imPORTant MESSengers POINTed OUT to comMANder RICHardson
the IMperCEPTiBILiTY of HIS aBYSmal THEOry
As you can see, large multi-syllabic words ("imperceptibility") often break down into exactly iambic patterns.
For single-syllable pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and linking verbs, the rules are not as cut and dry. Once grasped, however, they are easily applied:
1: Single-syllable pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and linking verbs are never stressed if they appear next to a single-syllable noun, action verb, adjective, or adverb:
NOW is the WINter OF our DISconTENT
JOE is KING in this TOWN
2: Single-syllable pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and linking verbs are never stressed if they appear next to a stressed part of a multi-syllabic noun, action verb, adjective, or adverb:
the gaRAGE had FALLen in HURricane WINDS
3: Single-syllable pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and linking verbs are always stressed if there is an unstressed syllable between them and the next stressed syllable:
if HE had RIDden IN the paRADE, he WOULD have DIED.
4: As they are infrequently in between two unstressed syllables, articles are never stressed. Even if they do fall between unstressed syllables (as in the example below), the effect is more of creating a pyrrhic foot than an actual stress:
BOTH FALL ROUGHly INto an iAMbic PATtern
Once the patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables are understood, groups of stressed and unstressed syllables can be gathered into metric feet. The three most important metric feet in English are the iamb, the trochee, and the anapest.
The iamb is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one:
the KING x /
The trochee is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one:
FASTer / x
An anapest is two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one:
in the EAST x x /
Other important feet are the dactyl, the amphibrach, the pyrrhic foot, the spondee, and the ionic. There are dozens more feet, but the eight mentioned make up nearly all of English prosody.
The dactyl is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones:
(ironically enough) ANapest / x x
The amphibrach is a stressed syllable surrounded by two unstressed ones:
aPARTment x / x
The pyrrhic foot is two unstressed syllables (and is generally rare except in ionic feet):
of the x x
The spondee is two stressed syllables (most compound words are spondees):
BASEBALL / /
The ionic foot is a pyrrhic foot followed by a spondee:
for the BASEBALL x x / /
In regular metrical poetry, a line is counted by the type and number of metrical feet. Lines are iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic, amphibrachic, spondaic, or ionic. It is essentially impossible for a line to be pyrrhic, and it is rare to see wholly spondaic or ionic poems. The numbers used for counting feet are mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, hexa-, hepta-, and octo-. Generally lines of poetry are no more than eight feet. In practice they are usually three to six feet. In any case, the prefix is followed by the word meter, hence monometer, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter, heptameter, and octameter. To properly name a metrical line, first take the type of dominant meter and then follow it with the number of feet per line:
To determine the number of feet and the dominant meter for a poem, scan the poem's lines using the above rules. Count the number of feet and the type. If a type is used consistently in more than half of the feet per line, it is the dominant type for that line. If a poem is built of lines that are consistently in a metrical pattern, it is said to be metric. If a metric poem is built of lines that are consistently in the same metrical pattern, it is said to be regular.
The iambic foot is by far the most important in English prosody. Written English and spoken English both fall roughly into an iambic pattern. That is, when the patterns of written or spoken English are mapped, or scanned, the resulting map is iambic in nature.
WRITten ENGlish and SPOKen ENGlish BOTH FALL ROUGHly INto an iAMbic PATtern. that IS when the PATterns of WRITten or SPOKen ENGlish are MAPPED, or SCANNED, the reSULTing MAP is iAMbic in NATure.
Scanned, this would appear:
/ x / x x / x / x / / / x / x x x / x / x x / x x / x x / x x / x / x x / x / x x / x / x x / x x / x
It is acknowledged that the rhythms here are arguably more anapestic than iambic. It is undeniable, however, that even in prose the rhythms are solidly up and down beats, stressed syllables followed by unstressed ones, and amazingly regular.
Armed with this knowledge, English poets since the time of Chaucer have employed iambic rhythms in their poetry. Even the Modernists, who strove to "break the pentameter," continued to use the rhythms of natural English speech in their poetry. It is important, then, to understand the general iambic line and its possible variations:
1: English iambic lines are generally trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, or hexameter.
2: Variations within lines are important to keep the rhythm of the poem from becoming unbearably predictable. Variations serve the same purpose in poetry as fills or riffs do in music.
3: The more feet per line, the more variations are acceptable.
4: There are two types of variation: substituting feet and adding or subtracting syllables at the beginning or end of the line.
5: The most common form of substitution is called a trochaic reversal. It consists of replacing an iamb with a trochee at the beginning of a line or after a full stop, or caesura:
STAYing at JOE'S was FUN / x x / x / the BIRD is DEAD. WHY did you MURder IT? x / x / / x x / x /
6: An anapest can always be substituted for an iamb. This is generally not done more than twice in one line:
can JOEseph reCYCle TRASH toDAY? x / x x / x / x /
7: A pyrrhic foot or a spondee can always take the place of an iamb. Also, an ionic foot (a pyrrhic foot followed by a spondee) can always take the place of two iambs:
they BOTH FALL INto an iAMbic LINE x / / / x / x x x / x /
the CAR it was RIGHT HERE x / x x / /
8: A line can be made acephalic by omitting the first unstressed syllable:
JOE you CAN'T be SLEEPing NOW / x / x / x /
9: A line can be made hypercatalectic by adding an extra (or two) unstressed syllable at the end: it's NOT the TIME for ACTion x / x / x / x
Using these rules, it is possible to scan any line of English poetry. Prosody is not important to enjoying a poem. Prosody is important, however, to appreciating the craft and techniques applied in creating poetry. An understanding of prosody creates better poets and more sympathetic readers. Sadly, an understanding of prosody in the general populace has been made impossible by over-complication and ignorance. As a result, many readers feel unable to appreciate or understand poetry and many poets are unable to understand the rhythms underlying their work. It is hoped that this primer will make an often overly complicated subject clear.