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“new to you” poetry gong, day 2

October 14, 2010

Traveling back in the poet laureate time machine (inspired by an anthology I mention here), the poet I am reading now is Kay Ryan (having just finished the selections for W.S. Merwin). I am participating in the “new to you” poetry gong (a poem-a-day for seven days inspired by someone “new to you”) at Big Tent Poetry. Today is Day 2.

I hope no one shoots me for saying this: very few of Kay Ryan’s poems really resonate with me, very few pack the gut-punch I look for in a poem. But — but! — her repetition of sounds in small spaces is brilliant. I am not a big fan of blatant rhyme (and certainly not end rhyme), but I love how much of Kay Ryan’s rhyming is folded in and folded in and folded in, layered and layered and layered. There is much to learn!

Take her poem “Turtle.” It is 15 lines. There are approximately 110 words. In that small space, I find the following rhymes (and I am terrible at picking out the more subtle ones so I may have missed some): four-oared, afford, toward; graceless, places; ditch, which, dish; lottery, pottery, levity; wings, things, something, dragging, everything, serving, imagining, packing, rowing; chances, grasses; track, pack; patience, chastened; eats, defeats; convert, skirts, serve; luck, stuck; turtle, mobile, axle, ill, shell, practical, edible, level, optimal.

We also hear the “L” sound like this: luck-level, lottery, load, levity, truly. And there’s a repeating “V” sound, too: everything, convert, serving, lives, level, levity. And there’s a repeating “O” sound: rowing, almost, slope, load. And, and, and … !

All in 110 words. Give or take. Wow. Wow. Wow.

In addition, there is much to be learned from her about an approach to poetry. She simply delights in it. The play of it. I can see how she and others can live without the gut punch when they have this other stuff.

I don’t stand a chance of being able to honor her use of rhyme and repeating sounds so adeptly, and it is doubtful that I will reform from “gut-punch” to “delight” maybe ever. (Ignore the weak moments of sweetness from Thursday and Friday.) But here’s what I attempted that is inspired by Kay Ryan’s playfulness and sounding-ness (and I also tried to make it narrow on the page like she does).

POEM REMOVED FOR EDITING.

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P.S. This was really hard. I’ll never get it to sound “natural,” but I am pleased I managed some rhyme without going all Dr. Seuss. That’s usually what happens to me.

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5 Comments
  1. October 14, 2010 6:20 pm

    i forgot to include a link to the other day 2 poetry gong-ers. oops! here it is:

    http://bigtentpoetry.org/2010/10/poetry-gong-new-to-you-day-2/

  2. Irene permalink
    October 14, 2010 8:34 pm

    You’ve managed to say something fresh. Again!

  3. October 15, 2010 6:02 am

    Carolee, I think you succeeded in doing what you intended to with this poem. It may not be your usual style, but you managed to sound playful and make the words sound fun and delightful, as well as show us how to look at a pug in a different light! I love the last few lines, comparing a pug to being a proper lady.

  4. October 15, 2010 8:09 am

    Yes, this works and I would hope it may bring you a little closer to rhyme of a kind. For me, rhyme is where poetry comes from!

  5. October 15, 2010 1:16 pm

    I agree with you entirely about the moon/June type of rhyme – but you have managed much better than that, with lots of assonance and consonance, without ever losing sight of the main message of the poem. I like it very much.

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