Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thought for the New Year

An ex-actress friend, newly into writing, complained to me yesterday: “it just is not in vogue to have poems that have a regular metre or rhyme.”

I think she’s right - it is a vogue. Depends where you read, I suppose; magazines will sometimes publish the most godawful crap if it more or less scans and happens to have rhymes. It also has to have a commonplace, even saccharine message. (I have submitted poetry that rhymed, scanned, and had a sharp message and had it rejected with a preprinted slip saying that it needed to rhyme, scan and have a message. Duh? But that’s another story and probably The People’s Friend would reject that too.)

“Serious” poetry appears to have lost the skill of writing meaningful, rhymed, metrical work. I don’t include rap because it only (sort-of) works if it has a synthetic beat behind it, and like most doggerel it dies horribly if asked to stand alone. Somewhere along the line, “meaningful” has branched off into free verse, leaving rhyme and metre in the children's section. And that's a shame. It's like creating jewellery, but restricting your materials to chromium and rhinestones. Why not accept all the tools that language has to offer?

3 comments:

Brian said...

Blimey-- and I just posted a piece on PW that does not rhyme, is not metrical . I did try it out by reading it , badly , onto a tape.

Been a bad experience in the writing .

Brian

Mary Witzl said...

I just had occasion to look at John Keats' 'The Eve of St Agnes' which has a word count greater than a lot of short stories I've seen recently -- it has to be at least 3,000 words -- and rhymes, scans AND has a message. You have to wonder just what has happened to poetry nowadays!

All I can say is this, Sue: if the People's Friend rejected your poetry, it's their loss and they ought to be blushing for the shame of it. And I am thrilled to be a fellow PF rejectee, though I suspect that when they rejected YOU they were truly having an off day.

Mary Witzl said...

Oh -- and Happy New Year, and I have NOT forgotten your bottle of wine!