Ten Years Learning How To Be A Poet – Part Four: Does Poetry Need To Rhyme? Does Form and Rhyme Make A Poem A Poem?

Does poetry need to rhyme? I’ve touched on this topic before and received quite a bit of feedback from other poets on WordPress, more so than I would normally receive on these style of posts. It’s a conversation that sparks debate in poetry groups of Facebook as well. I notice it cropping up when poets are asked “what piece of feedback have you received and chosen to ignore.”

In secondary school, I started writing poetry and I shared one of my poems with a friend. Her response was limited to ‘it doesn’t rhyme’, and with that she declared it wasn’t really a poem. It was an experience that taught me how black and white opinions around art can be. Something is a poem, or it isn’t, and the criteria to make it so is very specific. In reality, poetry occupies a strange spectrum where the style on one end, is utterly removed from the style at the other. Everything in-between is still poetry.

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NaPoWriMo – Day Thirteen: The Weakness Links

When we wrought this ship from iron,

we made an anchor out of clay,

strung it with broken links like paperclips,

lowered it down below the ocean spray,

certain that it would snap,

would shatter, break, or fail,

that we would sink and slip away

before the anchor fell.

Instead it found a mooring,

held fast against the waves,

and we were forced to realise

this might not be a matter of days,

or months or even years,

this could string on for life

and this tether made of paperclips

might prove to be just right.


I’ve tried to play around with rhyme in this catch up poem for yesterday’s NaPoWriMo prompt so I’d love to hear your thoughts on how it’s worked. I don’t normally like trying to work rhyme into poems because it too often feels forced by the poets and the poem becomes about the rhyme scheme rather than the story. Therefore, honest, constructive criticism will be greatly valued.

Also, in case you missed it. The phrase I picked to go with NaPoWriMo’s challenge to turn a familiar phrase on its head was ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’.


My Poetry Book

I have settled on a title for my first collection of poetry! *cue fanfare*

Since this is my first attempt at writing a series of poems specifically to publish as a book and not as individual pieces on my blog, I decided that I should try and honour that significance in the title.

So; my first collection of poetry is going to be called ‘This Young Adult’.

I’m taking a few of the poems from my blog and redrafting them for the book, but there will be some new pieces in there as well. Some of the older poems such as Persephone are probably going to look like new poems by the time I’m done with them so I don’t suppose they will really count as the same poem in the end.

I’m planning on having ‘This Young Adult’ ready for purchase by the 1st of July. This may seem like a short time frame, but I’ve been working towards the collection for a while so I should be able to manage.

A lot of the poems will have close links to my own life. I’m planning on including ‘Sister Dearest’ and ‘One Of Those Old Men Who Fear No Man’ in the collection, as well as other poems which are heavily influenced by my family members or my life.

Anyway. For those of you who are interested here is a sneak peek at the sort of redrafts that are in store.


Old Version: 1st Stanza:

Before we met,
Warm summer days,
Were as eternal,
As the life,
Of a goddess,


New Version: 1st Stanza:

You were the warning whispers on mothers’ lips;

the tea and coffee news item

fresh into town.

Hell raiser, troublemaker,

top of Concerned Parent’s Agenda:

August 2013.

My mother referred to you as Winter.


Here come the footfalls of the ghosts who I used to know,

Their faded faces with dull eyes and ears, dimmed years ago.

Murmured whispers of stolen memories I hoped lost

Gripped tight by claws and cracked hardened flesh.


Do not demand I name the worn out spite

Where secrets once drifted devoid of tanned light!

Hold power or sway over kingdoms held great but pitiful small

And waiting for those bent kneed and haggard to fall.


Wrap rope around your own stretched necks!

For once walk shoulder tall within the men and maul,

Spare me the footfalls of abandoned cold ghosts

The fear of their tread has long since been dead.