Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - A Rhyming Adventure

I've been reading The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry. I find it in turns both hilarious and instructive. It is also very well written. In the Foreword he writes:
I cannot teach you how to be a great poet or even a good one. Dammit, I can't teach myself that. But I can show you how to have fun with the modes and forms of poetry as they have developed over the years.
I find writing in rhyme particularly difficult and so have been working my way through the samples and exercises on rhyme. Here's the one I want to try this week.
Take your notebook and wander about the house and garden, if you have one. If you are not reading this at home, then wander around your office, hospital ward, factory floor or prison cell. If you are outside or on a train, plane or bus, in a café, brothel or hotel lobby you can still do this. Simply note down as many things as you can see, hear or smell. They need not be nouns, you can jot down processes, actions, deeds. So, if you are in a café, you might write down: smoking, steam, raincoat, lover's tiff, cappuccino machine, sipping, flapjacks, cinnamon, jazz music, spilt tea, and so on -- whatever strikes the eye, ear or nose. Write a list of at least twenty words. When you've done that, settle down and one more see how many rhymes you can come up with for each word. You may find that this simple exercise gets your poetic saliva glands so juiced up that the temptation to turn words into poetry becomes irresistible. Yield to it. A random, accidental and arbitrary consonance of word sounds can bring inspiration where no amount of pacing, pencil chewing and looking out of the window can help.
So there's your challenge for the work. Come up with a series of rhyming words inspired by your surroundings and turn them into a poem. Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. I tried this and got nothing. Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes. . .


  2. Haven't been by in a while, but I thought I'd leave a piece of unusual rhymes: Mallow

  3. ANother book to buy. I look forward to your Monday posts even if I don't always get to trying the ideas out

  4. I loved mallow and it showed me what could be done. Thanks:


    “If the sky falls we shall catch larks”

    There is a stone on my mantle,
    Just the one, carved with a phrase
    That stops the heart. I am alone,
    My birder husband gone these three years,
    Under a large stone in a garden of stones.
    So the sky has fallen, I am undone,
    No one to point out the larks.
    But when I look at the bones
    Of his face in photos, remember the tone of his voice,
    honed to a whisper in his last days,
    I am thrown into the maelstrom
    Of wind, earth, sky, the unknown,
    And there are larks, larks singing to the throne of God.

    © 2009 Jane Yolen

  5. Jane -It makes my heart ache to hear those lines, "the tone of his voice / honed to a whisper in his last days."

    I'm going to add my mallow to the bouquet, but this was a hard Poetry Stretch for me - not sure why. Hope the formatting holds.

    What Day Does

    Quiet in the house, not a sound.
    It’s all moonglow, though mallow whispers from a pitcher
    near the sink.
    Then Day comes. She turns Night around –
    the flowers shout, and the stunned house, which her
    chirrups fill, begins to spin – Day makes the tea tins
    tremble, she makes the thin-bowled silver spoons clink
    on the counter, she makes the cups shake and the dog blink
    and the cockatoo whistle in her cage. In fact, Day wins
    the day and keeps on winning all day long until once more
    Moon knocks like a neighbor at the kitchen door.

  6. Well, that 4th line should drop down from where the 3rd line ends. But basically, the formatting held.

  7. "Day wins
    the day and keeps on winning all day long until once more
    Moon knocks like a neighbor at the kitchen door."

    Positively Shakespearean, my dear.

  8. Shew! Holey Moley that's smokin' poetry from Julie.