"Writing in Rhyme" by Becky Who is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week

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This week's Poem of the Week is by Becky Who, who was thrilled to be chosen. "This really means a lot to me, and thank you for a great web site, it has really changed things for me".  The pleasure is ours Becky!  Congratulations on being selected, thank you for sharing your poetry with us and for taking the time to answer our winners' questions:

What got you into writing poetry?

It was quite by chance. A colleague of mine had the ingenious idea of putting a slam poetry project into our English programme, which was very successful with the students. For a laugh I wrote a slam poem for our student poetry event, and I've never stopped since.

How long have you been writing? 

Since an early age I've been filling note-books with ideas that I had to get out before they drove me crazy. However, I've only been seriously pouring myself into poetry since the slam epiphany about two years ago. Discovering Write Out Loud this summer has encouraged me to experiment with other forms of poetry than slam.

Do you go to any open-mic nights?

YES – for me this is an essential part of the poetry experience. I get my kicks performing on stage, and I also love hearing different poets share their work. I rarely miss the monthly open-mic nights at La Bobine in Grenoble, where they are very tolerant of me both slamming in English and massacring French. I long to try to perform in England though – I'm hoping to find some poetry nights I can try out when I'm visiting.

What's your favourite poet/poem?

I'm discovering new poets, and styles of poetry, all the time. For the moment I'd have to say performance poets such as Harry Baker and Sarah Kay. Harry Baker's "Real Men" has me moved to tears every time I show it to a class.

You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?

I'd be completely torn between a hifi with a music streaming service, and an e-book reader with unlimited wifi. Could I have a laptop or tablet with all of those things please?

 

No problem with a hifi or a laptop on your island, Becky, not too sure what kind of signal you might get for the wifi though...

Here is Becky's winning poem for us all to enjoy:

 

Writing in Rhyme by Becky Who

 

I can’t help writing in rhyme. I do it all the time.

Rhymes sneak into my texts unbidden

Or if they’re not there, or are too well hidden

Their absence clangs like a bell

And I feel compelled to find them somewhere… bear, care, dare, hair, tear… repair, despair…

It’s not fair...

I rhyme almost against my will, I’d so like to possess more literary skill

To master assonance, or align alliteration

To write words that sing for themselves in impassioned poetic creations

That paint pictures for the ears and leave imprints like kisses on the soul.

 

Has English Language so defined my brain

I think in rhymes and words that sound the same?

As if Shakespeare’s ghost so haunts our linguistic pysche

We cannot escape de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dee ?

Remember the rhyming books of childhood

A mouse took a stroll in the deep, dark wood.

Crafted tales to help children grow

Oh help ! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo !

We use rhymes to teach sounds and literacy, phonetics and the ABC

We try to teach kids right from wrong using rhythm, rhyme and song

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

Rhyme’s a nice device to show the ear and mind the way

But can verse be something more than sonic, phonic verbal play?

Somehow it doesn’t pass for literature of high class

And when the going gets tough and we face adult stuff

We’re supposed to put the rhymes aside.

 

Well, I tried. I really did.

When I had the need to write a poem about my mother’s death

I set out to avoid rhyming. I didn’t succeed.

Is it wrong to rhyme about death?

Does it trivialize so much pain to reduce it to a verbal game, like childhood nursery rhymes?

Well, kids deal with tough stuff too, sometimes.

My son had lost two grandparents by the time he was four.

He still asks “where’s Papi? Why don’t we see Nanny any more?”

He was in the house with me when my mother died.

I was giving him his breakfast when I should have been at her side.

Of course he wanted to know where she’d gone, and what was going on

I was advised not to euphemize,

Don’t say "she’s flown into the sky, she’s gone away"

As that leaves him to believe that she could come back some day.

And if that’s the worst he ever lives, he’ll be a lucky boy indeed:

If I were able to pray, I know that every day

I’d thank any relevant deity that we don’t live in a war zone

Where sending children across the sea

Is a safer option than staying at home.

 

And you know, lots of rhymes are written about war.

I studied the poets of the Great War in school English class

The power of their words had me weeping over my homework task

Alan Seeger had a Rendezvous with Death, and he wasn’t afraid

Neither to die, nor to let it rhyme with “breath”.

Wilfred Owen, in his "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?

He wrote to show the truth of the horrors faced by fighting men

Battling misplaced patriotism armed only with his pen.  

So death is part of life and as such should get the rhyming treatment.

Don’t stress about pentameters and such poetic feet

Just go with the flow and write what you know and tell us about what you feel

Who cares one jot if it rhymes or not – as long as we’re keeping it real.

 

You can also check out Becky's own performance of this poem here on YouTube

◄ Poetry & The Great War, a Series: 1

Contentment, Creativity and Cracks ►

Comments

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mike booth

Sat 29th Sep 2018 11:15

https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=71530
Loved your poem... I wrote this a while ago about rhyme and poetry... AnIffy poem! M x

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Becky Who

Sat 29th Sep 2018 06:08

Thank you again for all your lovely comments, it really means a lot to me! As I say in my poem, I seem unable to stop rhyming, even about serious subjects. (Although if that was really the case this comment should also be in rhyme!)

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Fri 28th Sep 2018 16:53

Well done.

I found an old 'paper' last week, stuck between the pages of a poetry book, and I LAUGHED. It was five columns of rhyming words, no order, just sound. And I remembered, years ago, I had some fun tossing 'rhyme' words together and then trying to 'make' something intelligible. I do recall that I had a great time, challenging myself, to no end whatsoever. Just fun.

Michael Holding

Thu 27th Sep 2018 16:59

Just looked at youtube. Beautifully recited Becky.

Mike

Michael Holding

Thu 27th Sep 2018 16:44

Great to hear rhyme defended!
John Betjeman got a lot of stick for rhyming.
Below are the 2nd and last verses of his 'Tregardock' (on a Cornish cliff top)

Only the shore and cliffs are clear
Gigantic slithering shelves of slate
In waiting awfulness appear
Like journalism full of hate
---
And I on my volcano edge
Exposed to ridicule and hate
Still do not dare to leap the ledge
And smash to pieces on the slate.

This is no trivial matter.

Tregardock is one of several of his poems I've set to music in the folk tradition.

Keep rhyming where appropriate.
Best wishes, Mike Holding



Michael Holding

Thu 27th Sep 2018 16:27

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Janey Colbourne

Wed 26th Sep 2018 14:47

Beautifully done. I think you’ve managed to take us through every emotion. And you’re right, there’s nothing wrong with using rhyme to express anything. (I find myself using internal rhymes a lot.) If that’s your style, go with it. You’re in good company. Plenty of awesome poets do. You’ve done a great job of using it meaningfully.

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Don Matthews

Wed 26th Sep 2018 01:03

It took me a while to get to the bottom but was well worth the effort. You little rhymer you 😎

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 25th Sep 2018 17:50

A cogent and creative stance about the irresistible lure of
rhyme and its poetical bedfellow, rhythm. The undeniable
fact is that the most memorable poetry is written in this
style and the best remembered poets in the English language knew it. But as with melody in music, there has
been a jarring move away from the invaluable ability to
create works that earn and are rewarded by affection and recollection in equal measure.


<Deleted User> (19836)

Tue 25th Sep 2018 16:01

Wow Becky! A really impressive piece. Well thought out with great rhythm and rhyme! I enjoyed it.

Congratulations!!!😊💐

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john short

Mon 24th Sep 2018 23:07

Hi Becky, this works great as a performance poem and you give it a nice flowing delivery that makes it come alive. It always amazes me how some people can remember all the words of a poem without looking. Nice one.

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John Marks

Mon 24th Sep 2018 21:38

Hello Becky and congratulations!!

I loved this phrase in particular: "I was advised not to euphemize", I, at first, misread it as "euthanize"! There's a whole school of Psychology built upon the interpretation of malapropisms and slips of the tongue! I, like you, too, splatter rhyme all over my work and cling-clang along to iambic pentameter. Anyroadup, very well done Becky.

John

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Becky Who

Mon 24th Sep 2018 20:48

Thanks for all the kind comments guys! I really appreciate it!

Bxx

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Martin Elder

Mon 24th Sep 2018 16:26

Frankly I thought that it was only a question of time before you were awarded POTW, and a well deserved one with this piece.

Many congratulations Becky

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Taylor Crowshaw

Mon 24th Sep 2018 14:53

Well deserved poem of the week Becky.. Fab-u-lous...💕

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Brian Maryon

Mon 24th Sep 2018 13:47

Congratulations Becks and so pleased to see one of the rhymers getting recognised.

Big Sal

Mon 24th Sep 2018 13:46

Well worth the effort to put it into rhyme now wasn't it?

I think most who don't like rhyming poetry are simply jealous that they cannot put two words together.

Great job Becky. Already read this, but I read it again for good measure. 👍

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