Revising Poetry-a Demonstration Part Six: Redrafting for rhythm and rhyme

Looking over my favorite lines from my two upside-down poems in the last post, I started noticing some interesting, slightly altered repetition. But before we jump into the next round of drafts which will get us looking at rhythm and rhyme, I want to share something fun I found.

Poemage

Poemage is a visual close-reading tool developed at the University of Utah for exploring the interaction of sonic patterns in poetry. I downloaded the free beta version, saved my poem draft as a .txt file and put it in the program’s poems file. Here is the Poemage analysis of my draft as it is now.

Having only begun to play with this tool, I can see how it will be useful during redrafting. Here’s the analysis of the vowel slant rhymes in my poem.

I started looking at the purple “EY” words and enjoy how they sound together:

embrace decay,
vacated frame remains,
erasable spaces may flavor irritation.

That’s a poem right there. Let’s look at light green “EH”:

stepping where
refreshment telescopes
impression
let dress arrest empty heads
tent indelible contentment

Not as easily a poem, but I can imagine those words in some interesting rhymes.

Force into form

At the end of demonstration four I talked about the four forms I chose for this demonstration: Trolaan, Synchronicity, Ottava Rima, and Nove Otto. I like using RhymeZone to explore my rhyming options. Let’s get started.

Trolaan This form is made of four quatrains (stanza of four lines) with an abab rhyme scheme. There is also a rule about the first letter of each line of each stanza. I’m going to play with the slant rhymes I identified above instead of exact rhymes for this one.

Body Wriggles an Empty Head

An impression arrests
all fruit flies in frame
after dizzying dress
a spiral of space

No contentment embraces
nor kitchen sinks emptied
nourish erasable remains or
navigate pinky-toe stepping

Obscured by crackling and smoke
over the permeating decay
onward desire in motion
opening curious spaces vacated

Beneath the tent of solitude
body wriggles an empty head
bone bending, not breaking, ensued
both imagination and flavor fed

Synchronicity This form has eight three line stanzas with the syllable count 8/8/2. It is written in first person and has a “twist” in the last two stanzas.

Flavorless Glue and Lost Scissors

cracked, speckled, broken window pane
a sudden impression alerts
arrests

kitchen sinks full of ideas
frozen in mid-irritation
stillness

like tinnitus introducing
dizzying, swirling vertigo
I fall

my view telescopes to his sweat
on her body behind the bale
the source

flavorless glue and lost scissors
leave me hungry, full of desire
stagnant

juggled stomach stones clack and click
what marks will topple to my tongue?
undone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~

clean of any sticky coating
the bridge burner can’t turn around
no choice

under the tent of solitude
refreshment wriggles in the dark
tunnels

Ottava Rima This form has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is written in 8 line octives. Each line has 10 or 11 syllables and follows the rhyme scheme abababcc

Before stuck by pins

An impression arrests the fruit flies in
kitchen sinks full of imagination
frozen in mid-irritation we spin
insatiable hunger sketches impressions
of furious flight before stuck by pins
curious spaces for contemplation
what indelible marks will come tumbling
to the tongue when the stomach is rumbling?

Contentment empties the glue of flavor
and steals the lost scissors of sharp-edged blades
leaping from dizzy existence, I waver
with nothing I’ve left, clean of sticky trades
refreshment wriggles under the tent savored
where scraping, not smoothing, may nourish new shades
having abandoned the house to fruit flies
in dark fresh-earth tunnels I find thought alive

Nove Otto This form also has both rhyme and syllable rules. It is a nine line poem. Each line has 8 syllables. The rhyme scheme is aacbbcddc

It all happened so fast

cracked, speckled, broken window pane
fruit flies frozen over the drain
what marks will topple to my tongue
who knows what hateful things I’ll say
now seeing through our loves decay
the vertigo of years undone
obscured by fire’s crackle and smoke
his touch erased by rains first soak
to dreams of solitude I run

Revise for Meter

I found more great resources and tools that led me to some more redrafting ideas. First, there are two free poetry MOOC Packs from The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program: How Writers Write Poetry and How Writers Write Poetry II. In Class 5 of How Writers Write Poetry, poets Richard Kenney and Bill Trowbridge present Meter, Prosody, and Scansion in fun and interesting ways. I like how Mr. Trowbridge demonstrates how different types of feet are used to emphasize an image, a metaphor and/or an emotion.

Here’s a chart of the different poetic feet

Poetic Meter (from Wikipedia)

This led me to another redrafting idea. In the book The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry (Yes, the British comedian), Stephen really breaks down poetic meter with tons of examples, starting with the iamb, of course. I took up his challenge to write lines of iambic pentameter and gave a redraft of my poem in iambic pentameter a try. Here’s what I came up with.

She dreams a tent of solitude tonight
a thought arrests the flies in dirty sinks
I let my arms and dress fly overhead
my pinky toe the point to hold the ground
my view becomes his hands behind the bale
a source of wafting filth, our love’s decay

content I stale, my life has lost all taste
he steals my time, my art has gone to waste
desire’s the buzz and itch to make me move
a rumble sounds, my constant hunger stays
the tongue now free, what hateful words to say
the bridges burn, can’t choose to turn around

Scandroid

Then I found something very fun. Charles Hartman at Connecticut College created a program called Scandroid. I downloaded the free program and typed my attempt at iambic pentameter above into it. Here are the results:

The Scandroid results of my attempt at iambic pentameter
My first Scandroid analysis 5-15-2021

How fun is that!!

Next Steps

This post alone opens a world of never-ending re-drafting possibilities. I can see that part of the revision plan during the review will include picking and choosing which redrafting techniques might work best for a certain poem. However, for this exploration of my process, I can see the effect of every step. The next, and final, step I’ll take in the redrafting phase of this poem’s revision is to emulate poems and poets, but I’ll save that for the next post.

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