Lessons in writing better poetry                                                                                                   

In the coming weeks an outline will grown here that provides you with a structure and tips how to write better poetry. Your teachers will be Tom Hood and Berton Braley!


After 40 years of experience writing about 10,000 poems, Braley had some serious advice on using rhyme and rhythm to create good verse.


Rule 1= Rhyme must rhyme PERFECTLY

A rhyme is only a rhyme if it rhymes absolutely. No near-rhymes, no approximate rhymes, no allowable rhymes are acceptable. They are not rhyme. Just like A = A, not A=A- or A+.

Rule 2= Rhyme with single syllabled words is right if the VOWEL-SOUND is the SAME but the FIRST CONSONANT is DIFFERENT.

So 'dew'  and 'due' do not rhyme, but 'new' and 'you' do rhyme. The first example shows two words that are identical, while the second one shows two different words. That means that rhyming words and/or syllables should be different, not identical.

Rule 3= Rhyme with multi-syllabled words is right if the rhyme is ON THE SAME ACCENTED SYLLABLE.

So 'were'  does not rhyme with 'blur', but river' rhymes with ' sliver'. The first example shows one word with the accent on the penultimate (before last) syllable and another on the last syllable, while the second example is showing both accents on the penultimate syllable.

Rule 4= Rhyme is for listening and pronouncing sounds, not for reading words.

So what visually looks like it rhymes, is not necessarily real good rhyme when one listens to it. Words like 'far' and 'war' look like they rhyme but they really sound only slightly similar, not the same. More dissimilar are the look-alikes 'through' and 'tough', which sound totally different.


----- soon to be released =====

© 2000-2006, Berton Braley Cyber Museum.
All rights reserved.
Contact Webmaster Peter Leeflang