There was a wealth of information packed into this weeks reading assignments from Mooring Against the Tide, chapters 4 and 5. I really did enjoy learning about diction, tone, alliteration and assonance. I’m sure I knew about these writing elements back in the day, but high school English for me was in 1979. Chapter 4, Sound and the Poem refers to both alliteration and assonance as being the poetic elements that arise from the use of consonants and vowels. They don’t discourage us from using either of these elements in our writing and we learn how to find these elements in other poems as well. I want to make mention that included in the lectures in week 12 the first item on the list of rules for writing humour is “1. Avoid alliteration. Always.” I am very curious as to why this is when it’s such a common writing element.
Another element of sound that I revisited from my school days was onomatopoeia. This is when a word imitates a sound. I had forgotten about this word and it’s definition. How often do you use the word onomatopoeia in everyday language? An English teacher I know, used to sing this little number, “Onomatopoeia, gee it’s good to see ya!” It’s such a fun word and a simple way of introducing sound into your writing.
Alberto Rios contribution of Degas In Vegas: Some Thoughts on Sound in Poetry was very helpful for me. “Sonic intensity refers to a condition in a poem in which the sound is everything. Sonic distance, on the other hand, occurs when sound is simply one more part of whatever makes the poem successful.” I now understand the definitions, but I am not sure I will ever consciously using these elements in my own writing.
Rios also covers an abundance of material about rhyme and rhyming patterns. Who doesn’t love rhyme? I agree with Rios, when he states that rhyme can be effective, but it has to have a valuable place in the poem. He discusses rhyme and the way it uses recognizable sounds to make it easier for us to engage in a poem and then apply it to memory. I feel excited about incorporating internal rhyme into my writing, as it’s something I would have never considered before. If I have done it, it was unaware that I was doing something that contributed to sound and enhanced the poem.
There were many poems assigned this week from The Best Canadian Poetry and I decided to use Moorings recommendations to enhance the sonic intensity and my experience by reading the poems aloud. It was an interesting exercise. I was trying so hard to pronounce words like “Eurydice” and “keloid” and to make the poem sound rhythmic in my own voice that I often lost track of the imagery and meaning at times. Learning to read aloud is another art form and I admire people that can do it well.I did keep up the challenge and after several attempts, I found some favorite lines and stanzas that I felt rolled off my tongue and were yet were still visually stimulating for me.
There were a lot of examples of internal rhyme in these pages and I started to feel excited when I spotted them. Such as this stanza from The Scarborough Bluffs. “I leave the zoo with the moon on the park,/The wolves asleep, the lions going down/(even the sun leaves Scarborough before it’s dark).”And, what is not to love about Hamlet? It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. “Hamlet in Heorot/goldfish on hooks/Hamlet in whoredens, /hookers with books.” This one was fun to read aloud because of the end rhyming pattern.
I found, What was that poem? to be a very touching piece of writing, but I didn’t find obvious examples of sound in this piece. I really liked Background Noise as well. The best example in this poem of internal rhyme are in these lines, “any hobbies that require scissors, shears, knitting needles, cheers, chopping blocks, drums, or power saws. It’s not enough.” I realize that the poems I enjoy the most contain some element of internal rhyme or assonance.
My head was spinning after I had read all the materials for this blog and when I was finished ,these words just came screeching out . As cliché as they are, I had a chuckle over them and even though I can hear Zoe groaning I wanted to share them!
My Ode to Poetry
I love you
I love you not.