do you have time to chat about rime?

a few posts ago, i mentioned villa’s method
of “reversed consonance”
as well as a few books i could think of that experimented
with rime. in the comment

Michael Magee

listed a few others:

K. Silem Mohammad, “A Thousand Devils”
Carl Martin, “Go Your Stations Girl” and “Genii Over Salzburg”
Ted Pearson
C. Bernstein (in his parodic mode)

Magee also co-wrote an essay with K. Mohammed called “Formalista!: Beats, Rhymes and the Avant-Garde” in 2001 (which might be published in the next issue of Combo magazine — so keep your ear out for that!)



i think an anthology of experimental rhyme would be cool. does one exist?


FINALLY, Robert Duncan has a series of poems called “the structure of rime” … i never quite understood what he was talking about when he used the word “rime” – the poems don’t rhyme, so what structure is he talking about? what is “rime”? ANY INSIGHT WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED …

please take a moment
to comment!


19 thoughts on “

  1. has anyone guessed the current blog title? typically i’m without even the slightest inkling of a clue, but i bought lyn hejinian’s “writing is an aid to memory” because of the lovely cover art (though, unfortunately, like her other work i was not swept away).

  2. Speaking of poets who rhyme, I think we should not overlook the seemingly youth-oriented poetry of Shel Silverstein. I wonder how many children have discovered poetry through him? I know that when I was eight or nine I decided to read other poetry because I liked “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, not just for the fantastical elements, but for the honesty with which life can be approached if you throw out the rules of what makes a poem ‘good’ or ‘challenging’ or ‘adult’. Like Lemony Snicket’s books, Silverstein’s may be aimed at children, but may be enjoyed by everyone because they are not innately juvenile and don’t talk down to kids.

    Just my $0.02

  3. Suffice it to say that the usage “rime” is archaic. I feel many uses of “rhyme” are written for the sake of rhyming.

    In other words too many people feel that poetry to be poetry must “rime” or “rhyme”… I find that to be utterly untenable. Rhyme for rhymes’ sake is the same for plays or movies when writers use sex for sex’s sake or violence for violence’s sake or the musical interlude to cover for them having nothing to write or to fill time so the movie runs a certain length. Useless. They employ these “things”, not to further the plot or the through-line, but to titillate to a low denominator or sell a product, and in doing so they sacrifice the truth or the creative process, and that, in my opinion (and in David Mamet’s opinion and a slew of writers opinions) is one of the worst things a writer can do.

    I find it rather amusing when I find a “poetry” site that has a contest on the page and they offer a rhyming dictionary if you enter a poem. A rhyming dictionary? Whatever happened to the process of writing poetry or writing in general? My poetry does not always, perhaps rarely, meet the “standards” set forth for “poetry”, but I do not struggle with rhyme and its obvious pitfalls. I write. I let my thoughts and hands (my muse, if you will) free and she never stops me and says, “I can’t find a word to rhyme with freedom or deviant or ______(fill in the blank).” She doesn’t stop at all. She moves past the desire to rhyme or sound “pretty” or “quaint” or “rimey”… I see many “poets” attempting to use rhyme as if it is a certain or sure way to create a poem. As a result I find their meaning or intent to be lost from the get go.

    If the creation of poetry is reliant upon the use of “rhyme” I for one will hang up my open and quill and go fly a kite. At least the kite’s path is predicated by the changing winds.

  4. With that said…I will add that “rhyme” is a good thing when used in context. When implemented in children’s poetry or even in a good number of “adult” poems. I can turn a rhyme or two and find joy in the process of doing so. I suppose, for me, it depends upon the subject matter. The rhyme is a beautiful form and I hope my previous comment was not construed as a slam upon the form of rhyming. my concern is that it is one that should be obvious when written. If a poem rhymes let the words pour forth and titillate the senses. Let rhyme carry the dance and the song to a level of beauty that may not have been reached otherwise. Just don’t give me “rhyming dictionary” to replace my fun or my freedom of thought or thinking, if you will.


  5. This sounds awkward- “At least the kite’s path is predicated by the changing winds.”

    How about- “At least the kite’s paths are let loose and thus prey to the varying wind.” ???

  6. Ok, to answer your question Craig, I can’t think of any poets that I’ve read recently, or since before I sprouted body hair, that would be considered Rimers or Rhymers. I do remember instances of reading poems that rhyme, maybe not with a strict pattern or meter, such as Marianne Moore, she isn’t above rhyming, but her Latinate is always fascinating and challenging. Bishop was the same way…

    I remember some early Duncan McNaughton poems that used rhyme for the sake of comedy, I think I might’ve read one of them to you from his collection “Shit on my Shoe”.

    Robin Blazer submitted a poem to 14hills which was thick with slant rhyme and the poetic “O” which normally I detest and will shit on the shoe of whoever uses it any manner other than to poke fun at it, but as was the case with an old master, he did it for the sake of humor and to undermine the O. Hm, does that mean he wanted the “O” to be an “Eh?” I mean he’s a canuck now.

    As for me… I think rhyme can be fun, as a matter of fact I find myself consciously having to avoid rhyme as I tend toward sing-songy like verse at times. I’m in no way the avatar of formal rhyme and meter, quite the contrary, I believe in a consciouss subversion of both. However, it always should be measured on a case by case basis. So as long as we all agree that human beings are pattern matching creatures, I will say this, I do see a greater deal of sentimental fluff and solipsistic trash using rhyme as a means of legitimating its poetic nature. This I think should be eradicated from the face of writing.

    This is also cultural. When my parents were growing up if a poem lacked both rhyme and meter, in Russian poetics, then it wasn’t really called poetry. Their word for free verse was “white poetry”, but it was frowned upon and not taught in schools. A poet such as Genady Aygi was so far ahead of most of his contemporaries that he had more in common with French writers 20 years later than any living Russian writer at the time of the Pasternak scandal.

    Right so Poetryman, have a bone to pick, what is violence for violence’s sake? Isn’t this a kind of not so well thought out statement? Both Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs get panned for being hyper violent, and openned up that door to hyper violent films that all tried to copy the character and spirit of “meaningful” violence, but sure, parents probably shouldn’t be showing their 9 year olds a scene of Uma Thurman snorting Harroien and or a hill billy rapist being killed by a samurai sword. Still what do you mean by violence for the sake? Are we talking about Jerry Bruckheimer here? What about John Woo films? Very violent, but sylish and slick with their contemporary settings that seem to evoke a Sergio Leone western texture to the constant wind sweep with everyone’s long jacket. Or how about sex? Does that mean Bernardo Bertolucci’s ever wonderful disrobing of beautiful women, and the occasional Marlon Brandow two fingered surprise and stick of margine, does that fall into the same boat? There’s a great deal of subjectivity with violence and sex in film. I suppose it really depends on where one lands in terms of his or her moral proclivity.


  7. You should have a look at the “Structure of Rime: Five Songs” included in New Directions’ reprint of Ground Work. There is a intro commentary about the SOR being basically an exploration of the SONG of lines. Also see Silliman’s section in Under Albany where Duncan disagrees with someone’s assertion that Zukofsky had a scientific method to his writing of “A” by saying that Zuk was all about “SONG!”


  8. rime makes me think of coleridge. rime of the ancient mariner.

    i’m all about keeping the song in the poem. but i’m a reimer, so maybe it’s overdetermined.


  9. What?
    The only bone to pick with the violence for the sake of violence and sex for the sake of sex is when it is out of context so much so that it throws you out of the movie’s intent or through line or plot. Not when it is done with the style you speak of. Sure, there are those movies, I hesitate to call them films unless warranted, that throw in the gratuitous violence and sex and it isn’t needed at all. It has nothing, at least to me, to do with moral proclivity. It has to do with the movie and its intent. If, for instance, Gaspar Noe had not made the film “I Stand Alone” with the violence and sex and eroticism and language it begged for he’d not be one of the greats, in my opinion.

    There are many examples of movies that completely went south because of a directors inability to follow his vision through and instead chose to toss in gratuitous sex scenes and violence that were simply out of place. I am not talking about the greats and am most certainly not speaking of Woo or Tarantino or any genre (Kill Bill) that beg and call for such scenes, of course not. Those movies are meant to be carried by violence and sex and language befitting the genre and if the director is worth spit he will seamlessly weave it so as not to cause you to nod off.

    It is paramount in the theatre to remain focused on the through line. If not you will lose your audience in no time. The same goes for movies… If something brings you out of the scene other than your need for a refill or a bathroom break or loud mouth patron then the director has not done his or her job. If, for instance, Tarantino in Pulp Fiction had added a scene of raw sex and had not really developed it into the plot or through line then it would have stuck out like bull in a china shop. If the movie or the plot or the character or through line do not call for a thing, then that thing if utilized in the movie will take you out of the “imaginary world” you’ve sunk into.

    If movies use violence as filler or sex then you will know it for it will be out of the ordinary, like a moose driving a car past your house. :>)

  10. hi katy! you get the point!!! have you read hejinian’s My Life…it wows…

    iseult, my students seem to love snicket! and i think for the reasons you’ve outlined. thanks for commenting…

    poetryman, thanks for commenting also … i def. agree with you that rhyme could have many pitfalls, and does often ‘get in the way’ of whatever is the main drive (or perceived) as the main drive of any given piece of work. i’m not interested in rhyming for rhyme’s sake, but in experimenting with rhyme and seeing if other poets are experimenting with rhyme (not just rhyming in any traditional sense).

    there seems to be a lot of potential in experimental rhyme — both sonic and semantic (as in rhyming words could also establish a semantic horizon that contributes to the overall semantic landscape of the poem)…have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater (i’m not sure if that’s the right expression;)

    mephis, the point about ‘white poetry’ is interesting…(i love aygi’s work) … i will have to check out mcNaughton and Blazer…two poets i’ve never read … interesting also to describe rhyme as a ‘legitimizing device’ — that def. seems true for the uninitiated (losers)

    as far as the bone you pick, would def. agree that the ‘______ for _______’s sake’ rhetoric is difficult since it is subjectively bound… altho i don’t know shit about music so i’ll stay away this one.

    francois, thanks for the notes. i def. want to get the new duncan (keep meaning to). i read about the duncan fiasco re: Z … and in some ways, they were both right – Z. is all about SONG … but not song in a Duncanian sense, but SONG as in Music and the science of music (its objectivity).

    jenn, ah coleridge. didnt think about that one. THANKS!

  11. mephis, meant to say i dont know shit about movies (tho i dont know anything about music either)

  12. hi c.s. i have read my life. actually, it was the first of her work i read (the book not the blog version) and although i thoroughly appreciated the concept (poem per year of life, and the distinctions between tone and vernacular throughout) i was rather disappointed. purchasing writing as an aid to memory was my attempt at enjoying some of lyn’s work… we’re just not on the same wave length. and it’s strange (read as ‘frustrating’), because i’m typically a sucker for the experiment-orientated female poet–bernadette mayer is my poetry mother.
    i think, now, the only way i could possibly enjoy any of lyn’s work is if i heard/saw her read.

    and rhyming… the beloved leonard cohen rhymes, though arguably a song writer, i consider him a poet (my first exposure was not his music, but his words on a page). his newest collection (the book of longing) has a few delightful rhyming poems.
    personally, i find rhyming stifling when writing as well as when reading—rhyming tends to, for me, enhance the rhythm of the poem to the point where it’s almost forced upon me. i tend to enjoy a poem where the rhythm acts more as an undercurrent, or like a violent undertow that sweeps you away before you even realize you’re 2 miles from shore.

  13. Hi
    I’m Ozy
    I’m a rhymoholic
    That was the first step.
    In the past I would have been one to be counted amongst the ranks of those who needed rhythm and rhyme to see poetry. That was how I expressed myself. Most “modern” (for lack of better terminology) poetry I read was in my opinion just not poetry. Many a laureate to me seemed to just be going on in non sequiturs or just ultimately boring, mundane soliloquies. The writing itself seemed to have no art to it. Don’t get me wrong, I have read much tripe with rhyme also. It, at least, seemed to put forth an effort to be something other than ramblings.
    I have since changed my ways. I actually have Katy and the other original members of the Wet to thank, at least partially. They offered me writing that was lyrical and artistic without rhyme. They, along with several other poets I found on the web, really opened my eyes to free form. Well, and the fact that Marcus McCann over at the Onion Union gave me a nice kick in the pants. Criticism is a difficult thing but he does in well. So, for a long time I got away from rhyme, cold turkey. I have since, occasionally, returned to the form but only when I feel it is fitting. I find it good for humor and horror.
    Ultimately though, as with all poetry (or any art), it is subjective, held within the eye of the reader.

  14. Here is an example from my own poetry that utilizes “rhyme” in a very subtle form….

    To those still striding and those sunk low…
    We have watched the fourth wall and the fifth column
    Give death rise,
    Seen the world, with no sign to kill, swallow the meek
    and the child!
    The wall is being erected that will keep us from the other,
    our living.
    We’ve been standing witnesses to the bloody dark wounds
    festering incision,
    A creeping vine choking heavily the very fabric of dream,
    our silky dignity,
    Fires and floods and famine and the god-headed cathedral
    in false indemnity,
    Horrible wars fomenting lies, death, sickness, and limbless
    pale torturing…


    This is my preferred method of “rhyming” if and when I do. I didn’t search for these words suing a “rhyming dictionary” :>), they merely tumbled forth…the way I like it…


  15. hi katy, i like your idea about rhyme being an undercurrent or violent undertow … yeah hejinian is def. a taste (as is much poetry i suppose) … i’ve never heard her read, but i think she is reading sometime in berkeley soon! i will check out cohen, sounds interesting. p.s. i heart bernadette mayer.

    ozyman, it has six weeks since your last confession, but glad to hear from you! and def. agree that it is in the eye of the reader.

    poetryman, i dig the poem! a convincing undercurrent, as katy phrased.

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