I’ll be honest with you: I like rhyme. It’s fun, challenging, and can make
a poem easier to remember. After all, some very famous and beloved
poems have been written in rhyme—think “Annabel Lee” and “Stopping
by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” That being said, it can be a tough sell
to get rhyming poems published in today’s market.
Why? Some consider rhyme to be too cutesy or even trite; some dismiss
it as “greeting card verse.” Now, I like greeting cards, and many of them
have lovely messages, rhyming or not. But I know what the critics mean.
It’s easy for rhyme to seem contrived. The poem’s meter, or rhythm,
may be off. Words might seem to have been chosen simply because
they rhyme, not because they best express the poem’s meaning.
Even more important, in my opinion, the writer may have used rhyme
not because of intentional choice, but out of habit, almost a built-in
assumption that rhyme is the “default” mode for poetry.
Rhyme is many things: it can be pleasing music, a dance, a structure—
and it is a tool. If used, rhyme should serve the poem. Other way around,
the poem seems to struggle against a “we’ll make it fit” approach.
Poetic language is what makes a poem. Let’s put work into improving
our poetic skills, like imagery, immediacy, getting to the heart of the
matter. These are what will strengthen and enhance our writing, whether
we choose to rhyme or not.
These tips may be geared more toward poets, but we also welcome submissions
from writers of nonfiction and from artists, including photographers.