The Poetry Worm
It's six weeks since I performed my poetry at Abergavenny Writing Festival. On a recent episode of the ITV quiz show, The Chase, there was a question about what the computer acronym WORM stands for. As a former IT infatuation junkie I knew the answer instantly; the chaser also got the correct answer but took a while to verbalise it. The acronym expands to Write once, Read many.
I wish my brain was a WORM. I wish that I could just flip a switch — press play, if you will — and deliver my poems verbatim, no matter how long ago the data had been written to the storage device. I wish the act of writing a poem instantly planted it into my memory circuits where its fruit was always ripe and ready to be plucked.
I've been invited to read my poetry to the Friendship Club that meets at the Methodist church in Abergavenny next week. I'm not the first person to read poetry to the Friendship Club. Apparently on previous poetry renditions the audience have been puzzled about the lack of rhyme in modern poetry. I have, therefore, agreed to do a short talk as a prequel to my poetry, explaining why modern poetry doesn't need to rhyme in the style of an eighteenth or nineteenth century poet, and how modern poets use rhyme in different ways.
I started out writing poetry by rhyming quite heavily at the ends of lines; I guess it was the poetry I'd learned in high school that I was using as my inspiration.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.
(stanza 3 from Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
The first draft of Tennyson's poem was written in 1854. 164 years later is it any wonder that the way we write poetry has changed? Tennyson himself felt his style was changing and worried that Charge of the Light Brigade was not the sort of poem a Poet Laureate shuld write (he was anointed Poet Laureate in 1850, after the death of William Wordsworth).
Children Should be Seen but not Heard
Being heard is sometimes a matter of judging the acoustics ... a large hall can take a lot of lung power to fill if there is no microphone (and if there is a mic than it helps to have experience of setting up and reading with a microphone). Some venues have significant amounts of background noise from other activities going on and over which you have no control. My reading on Thursday is in the church hall and I remember, from a talk about blindness and talking technology I gave there in Spring 2017, that it is nice and quiet. However they do like the use of a lapel microphone so that anybody using the hearing aid loop can pick the sound up too. In my tech talk I demonstrated my tablet computer using the screen reading software but didn't use it too much so using a microphone specifically on the speakers was not necessary. Because I'll have my work cut out memorising my own poetry, I wouldn't want to try to memorise examples of rhyming poetry as well. so I'll use the screen reader to perform the rhyming examples and, to do that, I'm going to need to do a test on Tuesday to figure out how to move the mic from my lapel and position it by a speaker ... I often think writing a poem is the easy part! ;)
#Rhyming #Memorisation #Performance #Microphones #ScreenReaders
‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ still works magnificently for most listeners — the rhetoric of it, and the situation, combine perfectly. It can bring me to tears yet, and I’ve known it most of my life. ‘The Charge of the Heavy Brigade’ is quite another matter (https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/charge-heavy-brigade-extract) and little wonder that most people don’t know it exists. But as for metre and end rhyme, they are as alive as they ever were. Just one of the vast array of choices open to poets. Everything that has ever been done in verse form remains an option, and rhyme is one of many aids to memory, as well as a fabulous clincher when it comes to impact. That’s why advertisers use it yet… and even politicians, on occasion. I love it.
I love rhyme too! I did not know The Heavy Brigade poem so thanks for sharing that info 🙂 … You are correct, my poems that rhyme are generally the longest I’ve been able to memorise and are my favourites 🙂 xx