Ask the Editor...

Is there still a place today for poetic rhyme?

Q.  It seems that rhyming poetry seldom exists anymore.  I love to rhyme but am often “teased” for it (good-naturedly of course!).  Is there still a place today for poetic rhyme?   Marian, Grand Canyon, AZ

A.  Honestly, today it really is a matter of personal preference.  At the turn of our century free verse poetry still prevailed as the preeminent poetic style.  That, however, has not derailed traditionalists from staying on track with rhyme and meter.  Many poets today enjoy the freedom of writing in free verse style because it allows them to focus more on theme and expression through a more artistic method—and rhyme can still be used!  Robert Frost, however, once said, “I would as soon play tennis without a net as write free verse.”  You should continue with whichever style you feel a calling to, but don’t sever yourself completely from newer conventions.  You might find satisfaction in how different styles can serve different purposes!

Q.  My youngest granddaughter (seven years old) shares my love for poetry.  We read and write poems together often.  Are there any books of children’s poetry out there that you can recommend?  Allen, Erie PA

A.  Believe it or not, many of your classic poets have also written poems for children.  William Blake, Lewis Carol, Robert Louis Stevenson, and T. S. Eliot are just a few who have written delightful poems for young hearts, and of course, the young at heart.  The poetry of Shel Silverstein is also a terrific way to introduce poetry to a young, budding artist.  His children’s collections are some of the most well-known in the world, perfectly appropriate and effective in teaching a younger audience the fundamentals of verse.

Q.  What qualities does a prize-winning poem have?   Grace,  Ottawa, KS

A.  Simply and concisely put, a quality poem worthy of a prize will contain at least a couple basic elements of poetry that are used exceptionally well.  Imagery, figures of speech, effective line breaks, strong rhythm, natural-flowing rhymes, and language that is vivid and descriptive are the most important elements in defining a well-written poem.  Of course, depending on the type of poem, it will not have to display all of these, but should have at least one or two as major strengths.