Poetry and pictures

Joy Moore  
I discuss techniques of poetry by asking the question: WHY DOES THIS WORK AND HOW CAN IT HELP YOU.

This month I discuss Metrical Variation by means of the book

By Karen Jameson
Art by Wednesday Kirwan

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Neigh-a-bye lullaby /-/

Slowly swaying rock – a – bye /-/-/-/

Nuzzle nose, breathing deep /-/ /-/

Plodding, nodding off to sleep /-/-/-/

Moo-a-bye lullaby /-/

Droop eyelids flutter – sigh //-/-/

Setting in, hoof to chin /-/ /-/

Milky dreams come floating in /-/-/-/

What is the purpose for metrical variation?


It gives us a surprise with unexpected turns of phrase.

Helps avoid a sing-song cadence.

Emphasizes phrases or a refrain.

  • Did you notice the metrical variation by means of the spondee?
  •  Did you notice each line is truncated?
  •  Did you notice the change of metrical feet for certain stanzas?
  • Did you notice the metonymy? The substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant? For example: Neigh-a-bye lullaby and Moo-a-bye lullaby?


Is this not a fun filled read-a-loud?



Yeah, I agree that is fun to read aloud.

I think that’s tricky about poetry (and probably why they don’t like it being submitted for critiques) is because the better it is…the less trouble I tend to have understanding why. When it’s done most right, it feels magical…as in, any scientific procedure that is understood poorly enough is thought of as magic, and that gives it more of a special sort of feel. I think comedy might work similar in some ways…although it is easier to figure out what I like about comedy.

Apr-14 2022


I study poetry on my own in my free time. I am of the side that to authors must learn the basics of poetry before they begin writing stories.

Modern Chinese fiction still use a lot of beautiful phrases and poetics. The sentences are alive with interesting rhythms too. Their meanings remain profound, and literary devices are used in great quantities even in animation and film.

The same sense of poetry in writing and animation is also present in Japanese modern fiction.

However, the pursuit of minimalism of English language has led to trends which I deem harmful. Many genre fiction writers forgo these techniques, rendering their prose a little dry at times. Subtlety has disappeared in most western fiction as I skim the pages, and even the simplest thought processes must be written in paragraphs that pontificate.

Simple language doesn’t need to be dry. Because poets know how to use even the simplest, most basic words to spin something mundane into something magical. This is what is missing, honestly, in the narrative styles that are popular among genre fiction writers.

I recommend studying haiku and Tang dynasty poetry.

Apr-14 2022


Agreed. I wrote poetry for years (still do!) before trying story writing. Mostly rhyming verse, but I do a lot of haiku as well. In a way, I see this like a musician learning their scales before they learn to play songs.

Apr-14 2022


What poetry has taught me was how to squeeze a ton of meaning into the simplest depiction. This also led to me forgoing overstatements in writing. My narrative voice feels a little softer and less forced after that.

Apr-14 2022


Yes, I found that haiku particularly shows how to evoke an image or thought with simplicity. Like a little dab of watercolor.
You mention above that you note trends of minimalism being harmful. This is true, when it leaves prose feeling empty and dry, like bones without flesh. But the minimalistic writing of those who have some skill in poetry can be quite striking.

Apr-14 2022


Definitely. Isn’t that what haiku is all about? The reason why I mention haiku and Tang dynasty poetry is that their structure forces writers to be super concise in writing and conveying meanings. Overwriting doesn’t go well with these writing styles.

What poetry has also taught me is the importance of word choice and how the smallest change can affect the tone and subtle meanings in the writing. Trying my hand on writing poetry also let me learn to interpret sentences both on the surface level, and their subtexts.

Apr-14 2022


My #1 favorite haiku of all time:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they
Don’t make sense


Apr-15 2022


Lol :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

Apr-15 2022


I love the vigorous sound of spondee. Its beat reminds me of childhood. Even childhood is a spondee word :smile:

May-07 2022
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