by Dr M C Gupta
Details about the POETRY IN RHYME AND RHYTHM CONTEST
|DETAILED BACKGROUND OF MY POETRY CONTEST
A. AIM --
The objective of this item is to provide detailed background information about the "POETRY IN RHYME - RHYTHM CONTEST-winner" and to explain how this contest differs from other contests. Wherever the word he appears, it is supposed to include she also, if the context so allows.
The contest is aimed at providing a forum for posting poems that reflect excellence in poetry written in proper English following the rules of rhyme and rhythm. It is expected that these poems would provide reading pleasure as well as inspiration for appreciating and writing high quality poetry. Proper English in this context means English written without slang and within the standard norms of grammar and spelling etc. There is nothing proper or improper about language as voluntarily shared by a society as per its needs and culture. However, English now has the contours of an international language. There is wide variations in English forms in, say, England, America, Australia and India. The aim in this context is that poems entered here may be understood by anybody in the world having a reasonable command of standard, basic English. Since language, including pronunciation varies from place to place and since it is a contest, there may be situations when one may have to take a definitive stand out of two acceptable alternatives. In such situations, the Random House dictionary, which is an American dictionary, suitable for writing.com, which is a list based in USA, will be treated as the reference.
B. DISTINGUISHING FEATURES--
In view of the above aim, this contest has the following unique provisions not found in most other contests:
1. Besides your own poems, you may post poems written by others, whether they are writing.com authors or not, including the well-known masters of English poetry. This provision has been included in view of the fact that there may be many persons who cannot write an excellent poem but can spot one. It will be the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that he has the writer’s permission to nominate his or her entry for the contest and it will be assumed that he has it. In my judgment, I may award the prize to a new poet over a famous one. Old is not always gold.
2. You may post poems that have won prizes, awards or awardicons earlier. This provision has been included in view of the fact that a poem that has won an award earlier is likely to be an excellent poem and there is no reason why excellence should be rewarded only once, not a second time.
3. You may post poems that have also been submitted for other contests. This provision has been included in view of the fact that there is no reason why the display of excellence of a poem should be permitted at only one forum, denying it the opportunity of being displayed at other forums.
4. You may post a poem that has been already posted in this contest earlier, and, even awarded a prize, provided it fits in with the requirements of the prompt given. This provision has been included in view of the fact that a poem may be compatible with more than one prompts.
5. You may post an altered version of a previously written poem.
6. Revision of the poem is allowed, including revision based upon comments by the contest organiser. This provision has been included in view of the fact that every modification made by an author to his or her previously written item is likely to have a higher degree of excellence. However, such revision would be considered for judgment only if the author notifies the judge that the item has been revised and requests him to re-review the same.
7. You may post up to 3 poems. This provision has been included in view of the fact that sometimes there may be more than one poem that may appear to the author to be excellent and it may be difficult to decide which one is more so.
8. It is a requirement of the contest that the rhyme and syllabic scheme should be mentioned while submitting the poem. All poems with this information will be sent a proper review. Poem without such information will still be read and considered for the contest, but they may be merely rated, not sent a review.
In return for your contributing a high quality poem, I will try to fulfill the aim of ensuring: uniqueness of prompts; objective and transparent judging; a serious review / rating for each entry; timely and efficient contest management; and, high quantum of prize money.
1. This contest was initially named as Monthly Traditional Poetry Contest. But, later, literature review suggested there was no clear and objective definition of traditional poetry. Hence, the change in name.
2. Rhyme is well understood. It needs no elaboration.
3. Rhythm is an essential characteristic of poetry, but the concept needs to be dwelt upon . For information on “What is rhythm?”, see http://www.poetrymagic.co.uk/advanced/rhythm.html.
The following brief commentary on rhythmic and free verse is a simplified version taken from the above link.
“Metre is a systematic regularity in rhythm. In western literature there are two great metrical systems — the quantitative (introduced by the Greeks) and the accentual (which appears in Latin of the third century AD).
The quantitative system is based upon counting of syllables.
The accentual system is based upon counting of stresses.
Accentual verse has fixed counts of stress but variable syllables. Syllabic verse has fixed counts of syllables regardless of stresses. Accentual-syllabic is conventional meter with both stress and syllables fixed. Free verse has no restrictions on either.
Accentual verse is found in popular verse, ballads, nursery rhymes, songs and doggerel. Syllabic verse, as exemplified by the French form Alexandrine is not strictly metrical, and twentieth century attempts to write a pure syllabic verse in English have not caught on. Accentual-syllabic was developed by Chaucer from Italian models, and became the staple for English poetry from Elizabethan times till comparatively recently. Free verse originated in France around the middle of the nineteenth century, was championed (briefly) by the founders of Modernism, and has ramified into various forms, some of them indistinguishable from prose”.
4. The Importance of Meter-- There is an inseparable relation between music and poetry. The major poetical characteristic that lends musical quality to poetry is rhythm. Rhythm and meter are closely related. The dictionary definition of meter is: rhythm as given by division into parts of equal time. The word meter comes from the word metronome, which is a device to measure beats within a definite time frame. It is used to set the tempo for a piece of music. Classic poetry, like any musical creation, has both rhythm and meter. The job of both music and poetry is to bring some sort of emotion to the reader or listener; to touch their hearts with the words the poet has written. We have all listened to a song and suddenly realized we are crying. Such power over our emotions, which is the hallmark of good poetry, is enhanced if the poetry has rhythm.
5. Based upon the above, the name was later changed to POETRY IN RHYME AND RHYTHM CONTEST. In view of the above background, one might be tempted to ask why not call it as a “Poetry in rhyme and meter contest”. I would say that I prefer the present name because rhythm and meter are not synonymous. I would say that the terms meter, rhythm and flow, though essentially talking about the same thing, are progressively expansive. While meter is concerned in a very major way with the syllabic scheme, rhythm and flow take care of pronunciation, recitation ease / naturalness, smooth transition from line to line, stanza to stanza, not only in words but also in thoughts, feelings and emotions.
A poet is often caught in a dilemma. Should he give free rein to his creativity and write verse freely without bothering about structural format? Or, should he insist on structural rules even though they come in the way of creativity? In this context, poetic freedom and structure may be viewed as two opposing forces. Poetic structure or form tends to promote rhythm but limit creativity. Poetic freedom tends to promote creativity and dilute rhythm. Both have to be optimally balanced to result in a poem displaying both rhythm and creativity. While it is true that poetic rules come in the way of creativity and free expression, I believe that this is often used as a lame excuse by those who want a short cut and wish to become a poet without the effort needed to master the rules. I believe that before a writer starts writing in free verse, he should try to master the art of metered poetry. I believe this will make him a more versatile writer of poetry. This contest is aimed at encouraging writers to write formal, structured poetry in rhyme, rhythm and meter.
E. RULES / GUIDELINES: The rules / guidelines, other than those already mentioned above, are listed below:
1. Prize will not be withheld on the grounds that the number of entries is not enough. That means, the prize can be given even for a single entry, provided the poem is worthy of the prize.
2. Proper or complete rhyme will be deemed as superior to incomplete rhyme. [TIP--Rhyming dictionaries are available as an aid. An example is http://www.rhymer.com/]
Example of complete rhyme:
Jack fell down,
Broke his crown.
Examples of incomplete rhyme:
Jack fell down,
Broke his crowns.
Jack fell down,
Broke his pawn.
Jack fell down,
Lost his count.
Jack fell down
In the last round.
3. The poem should have rhythm. Rhythm is difficult to define. Practical suggestions to ensure rhythm are as follows:
a. Break the poem into recognizable stanzas
b. Keep a definite syllabic pattern. Some common syllable schemes used by me are: 7-7-7-7; 8-8-8-8; 7-6-7-6; and 8-6-8-6. [The numbers refer to the number of syllables in each line of the commonly used 4-line stanza. For example, 8-6-8-6 would mean 8 syllables in lines 1 and 3 of the stanza; 6 syllables in lines 2 and 4 of the stanza]. All dictionaries indicate the number of syllables in a word. You may choose any syllable pattern of your choice, but it must be maintained throughout the poem.
c. Minimize awkward line breaks, with part of a sentence carried to the next line in an unnatural manner.
d. Don’t be shy of punctuation
e. Read the poem aloud. This will indicate any jarring in pronunciation, which totally spoils the rhythm and flow. Reading aloud a bit fast helps all the more in this. Reading aloud is important because the number of syllables alone does not ensure rhythm. Proper order is also necessary.
The following illustrates it:
Make sure rhythm is not faulty,
Syllable count is must.
Rhyming is severe headache,
Just meter can be used.
Always ensure the rhythm by
Counting all syllables.
Rhyming may be difficult,
Only meter may do.
[From "HOW TO WRITE AN ACROSTIC-acrostic,edpick" ]
Please note that each of the above two stanzas has a 7-6-7-6 format [seven syllables in first and third lines and 6 syllables in second and fourth lines]. However, only the second has rhythm.
f. It would be beneficial to read "SCANSION--the basics" and "WRITING POETRY--Basic guidelines"
4. Posting—The title of the entry should be the title of the poem, followed by a hyphen and the words ‘my entry’.
5. Linking—Entries should be submitted in the form of a link. For independent items, it should be a bitem link. For individual entries in book or journal items, it should be an entry link. The method of posting a link is given below:
For posting as bitem link, type out the parentheses and fill up them with bitem:xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the item ID no.
For posting as entry link, type out the parentheses and fill up them with entry:xxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the entry ID no.
Those unable to use a link due to any reason, including the reason that the poem does not exist on writing.com, may post directly in the forum.
6. Faulty grammar and spelling and typos will not be ignored.
7. The contest is open from the first of the month till the last day of the month.
8. PRIZE—The monthly prize will be 10,000 GP. It may be awarded to a single author or may be divided amongst two or more. Additional prizes may also be awarded. The anniversary round will be a ghazal round carrying 20,000 GP prize.
M C Gupta
20 June 2007