05 April 2015

An Open Letter to the Poet on Rhyme

An Open Letter to the Poet on Rhyme
Dear Poet,

I recently read work from a poet who opined the merit and beauty of poems that rhyme. A poem should be read, he insisted with vigor, for the message it shares not the form it delivers. He cited the writings of classics like Poe. And mostly I'd say I agree ... Although ... The form is a function of what we express, and ultimately rhyme may come down to: finesse.

To suggest that the rhyme of a verse is second to the message suggests that, before he's begun, the poet gave little or no thought to function: how style, structure, and rhyme may lend class to construction. Surprise is as telling as knowing what's next ... and in most cases I've found surprise is what's best. It's true that a natural rhyme with, say, "down" is a word such as "brown," "clown," "frown," "crown" or "downtown." But perhaps knowing you've found a straight rhyme will mean less to the reader who longs for something less direct.

To define the merit of your verse by its rhyme suggests nothing else matters, and that it is fine to sacrifice beauty for rhyme--this is foolish; and I would argue it is equally mulish to say "Poems that rhyme have no place in the world" as to say "Rhyme for rhyme's sake is best" ... It's absurd!

I won't go on much longer; I think my point's made. But I hope you've been mindful to what I have said. I don't judge poems for rhyming or their lack thereof ... I judge poems for whether they have done enough to transport me, to move me, to make my mind wobble. To sway me, to slay me, to shock me and boggle. A poem may rhyme or a poem may not. What matters to me is the way I am caught up in what you have said and how you have said it. So slant, straight, or don't: just be mindful, sir. Get it?

Anyway, I suppose that's all I am trying to share. A big thank you for reading.

Sincerely yours,


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