Weâ€™ve been talking a lot about the Sound of Language.Â Weâ€™ve looked at onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition.Â Weâ€™ve discovered there are many ways to rhyme words besides exact rhymes at the ends of lines.
Whatâ€™s the point?Â Are we just fiddling with linguistic Tinker Toys to amuse ourselves?Â (Not that thereâ€™s anything wrong with that.)
If you consider yourself a poet, if you feel compelled to write something called a poem, perhaps itâ€™s because you have something to say that cannot be described in prose.Â Something that can only be understood and experienced on a subconscious level, or on a feeling level, or on a metaphorical level.Â Something magical.
We have seen that modern poetry accomplishes this sort of oblique communication through the use of images, symbols, metaphors, appeals to our five senses, appeals to our shared cultural experience, and unexpected connections.Â But our poetry will not be as good or as effective as it could be until the sound of the language
- is consistent throughout the piece
- is consonant with and reinforces the meaning of the piece, and
- is as much a pleasure to listen to and read out loud as it is to read on paper.
Poetry:Â Go back to the June 17 column.Â Read it.Â Read the article by Edward Hirsch cited there.Â Read the example poems.
Option A: Write a short poem (not too short) on a pleasant or pastoral (nature) or hopeful theme.Â Using the devices discussed in this and the June 17 column, as well as simply the sounds of the words, polish your poem until the sound of the poem supports and reinforces its meaning and sense of wholeness.
Now write another poem about an unpleasant, ominous, or violent theme.Â Make the language of the poem reflect the violence and unpleasantness of the meaning.
Option B: Alternatively, analyze one of the poems cited in the June 17 column or another of your choosing in which the sound of the language makes an evident contribution to the sense of the poem.Â (If you choose Roethkeâ€™s â€œWords For The Windâ€, you might want to limit yourself to the first section.)Â Look for the devices we talked about, but donâ€™t stop there.Â Tell us how the sound of the poem helps convey its meaning.
Prose:Â See and respond to the June 24 Column.
- PutÂ SunWE in the title and tags.
- Indicate in some way which devices/techniques/figures I should be paying attention to.
- Deadlines are open.Â This prompt does not turn into a pumpkin a week from today.Â If your piece isnâ€™t done by next Sunday, get it in when you can.Â This is supposed to be fun.
- I will comment on every submission and include a link to it in the next column.
- If you would like a little more academic critique--but still very friendly and positive--include the word "rigorous" in your post (e.g. "rigorous critique wanted").
Here are responses to previous prompts.Â Let me know if I missed yours.Â I hope you can take a few minutes and read some of the other submissions.
The Sound of Language
Anonymous Narrator, Single Character POV
Â© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Â Please share this on Gather.com, and elsewhere on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy. Â Doug's latest book is The Depressed Guy's Book of Wisdom from Chipmunka Publishing.
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