It all started when Angie Karcher invited me to the RhyPiBo 2015 awards in New York City last December. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend, but just getting the invitation had me speaking in rhyme for days.
I’ve only written two rhyming picture books and some might not qualify them as true rhyme. Roar of a Snore is an accumulative rhyming book; the letters Prancing Dancing Lily writes home from her travels around the world are also in rhyme. I’ve never really been a poet or a rhymer, though. Prancing Dancing Lily nearly drove me batty. Roar of a Snore almost sent me off the cliff. What was I thinking? Looking back I realize that I started writing in rhyme after the most difficult health challenge of my life. I needed to laugh. Writing in rhyme made me laugh. And reading and writing rhyme makes kids laugh too. That’s why we writers continue to struggle with it.
1) What are your top suggestions for those who wish to master rhyme?
Read the Masters: clearly Lewis Carroll's Alice poems. But modern masters, like J. Patrick Lewis, Shel Silverstein, Doug Florian, Alice Shertle, Maryann Hoberman, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, David Harrison. Then set yourself a goal of writing a rhymed poem a day for a month, even six months. Read and practice.
2) What are your favorite websites for learning the skill of poetry writing?
I am huge fan of David Harrison's blog and Miss Rumphius Effect and read them every day.
3) How do you feel about inexact rhyme? (resist/missed) Some editors refuse it, but I see lots of books where it seems to work.
Baby steps. Don't start with those. Make yourself a master of the rhymed poem. (Not just ditties, but sophisticated rhyme schemes, too.) Be prepared to fail and rewrite and rewrite again. Before you do inexact rhymes, master true rhymes. Not resist/missed, but resist/enlist or missed/kissed. Not slant rhymes like find/rescind. And for goodness sakes, don't do occasional rhymes and jerked lines with the excuse that Seuss did it all the time. Dr. Seuss was sui generis and a genius. He was one of a kind. You are one of your own kind.
Jane’s advice will definitely keep us on the road to rhyming. You might want to join her “Jane Yolen Poem A Day” email, to keep poetry and rhyme in your day. http://eepurl.com/bs28ab Jane has not missed sharing a daily poem for three years straight! Talk about inspiring!
Below are Jane’s notes and requests if you join the group. I have and it's been a pleasure.
“These are mostly adult poems, so don’t automatically let kids see them. And they are early drafts.
Please don't share the poems or post them without asking permission. And always include the © notice when you do. Since I try to get many of the poems published in magazines or journals or in anthologies or collections, I need to protect my copyright.
All I ask in return is that you promise at month’s end --in exchange for the poems--that you will either buy one of my books (for yourself, a child, a friend, your local library) or borrow one from the library. Or possibly buy one for the library one month, borrow it the next. Double dip!
And do tell me what book you have gotten. If you joined past the month's halfway point, you get that first month free of this promise.
I always love to hear reactions, annotations, mention of typos, etc.”
If you want more inspiration, check out the top rhyming picture books that RhyPiBoMo selected for 2015. My granddaughter’s personal favorite is Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry, a fresh take on friendship...yep, between a stick and a stone.
Remember that children’s poetry and rhyme is not only about fun, though that’s a big part of it. It can also tackle information, serious subjects, and bring insights. I’d end here with a rhyme, but I think I’ll go practice Jane’s advice first.
But if the rhyming gods grab you, comments are welcome in prose or poetry.
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