Tag Archives: rhyming

My review of Poem Reader, an Alexa skill

This review is of Poem Reader, an Alexa skill which can be accessed using the Amazon Echo.

Amazon’s website describes Poem Reader as:
“Poem Reader is a random collection of poems for the whole family. Enable the skill to ask for today’s poem or the daily rhyme. Alexa will say the poem, not sing it. This skill is meant to help teach you the words to some popular poems and rhymes.”

Having used Poem Reader, it is, in my view more of a vehicle for having nursery rhymes recited than a means of accessing poetry more generally. Each time I asked Poem Reader for a poem and/or rhyme, it produced a rhyme more suited to young children than the family as a whole.

Amongst the rhymes voiced by Alexa was Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Little miss Muffet and Goosey Goosey Gander.

This skill does, perhaps possess the potential to amuse young children and those with an interest in nursery rhymes. However, from my use of Poem Reader, I believe that the description is somewhat misleading in that it implies a broad selection of rhymes/poems, when what is in fact included is largely (perhaps exclusively) a collection of nursery rhymes.

For anyone interested in checking out Poem Reader, it can be found here, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poem-Reader-Poems-for-Everyone/dp/B01LFXD2LY/.

Disdain for Rhyme

A couple of days ago, I was sitting at my desk trying to compose a poem in rhyme. My rhyming muse had deserted me, consequently I experimented with free verse. My muse still refused to play so, in frustration I turned off my computer and went to bed.

My inability to compose in either rhyme or free verse may have stemmed, in part at least from my need for sleep. However, come the morning my rhyming muse perched upon my shoulder and I was able to pen a rhyming poem with which I was happy.

As those of you who read my poetry on a regular basis will know, my preference is for rhyme. This is both because I find rhyme intrinsically beautiful, and due to rhyme coming naturally to me whilst, generally speaking, free verse does not. There is much great poetry written in free verse, its simply that, on the whole I prefer reading and writing rhyming poetry.

My muse refusing to play reminded me of the following response I received from a reviewer when I contacted them asking whether they would be interested in reviewing one of my books:

“I took a quick look at your site and at the reviews your book has on Goodreads. You’ve got a talent for rhyming. Unfortunately, I prefer to read free verse
and if I were you review your collection, my disdain for constant rhyming would bias my review”.

I was grateful for the response (as not all reviewers do respond to requests for reviews). In addition, I appreciated the honesty of the reply. We all have our preferences, mine is for rhyming poetry, whilst the reviewer’s is for free verse. As to whether my poems utilise constant rhyming, as the poet, I am probably not the best person to answer that question. However what I will say is this, I believe that whilst the best rhyming poetry is intrinsically beautiful, there is no point in marring a good composition by forcing a rhyme where no rhyme should properly be. It is not wise to force a size 10 foot into a size 9 shoe. One can do so however the foot risks being mangled as does the poem. Sometimes its right that parts of a poem rhyme whilst other sections do not. I am by no means a purist in such matters.

I have heard the view expressed that rhyming is somehow lazy as its easier to compose in rhyme than it is to use free or blank verse. I beg to differ. Whilst the best free verse poetry is a pleasure to read, the worst reads like prose of the most prosaic kind. Whilst there is, undoubtedly bad rhyming poetry, the subtlety of good rhyming poems is a real pleasure to peruse. The use of unusual (but highly effective) rhyming is a real skill which takes time to develop (and is only developed by some). As for the “disdain” for “constant rhyming”, whilst I can understand why this can become tedious, surely it depends on how the constant rhyming is done? “The cat ate my hat. I chased him with a bat, crying this was my hat!”, can quickly lead to tedium on the part of the reader, but much rhyming poetry is not like that!

In conclusion, I understand the views of those who dislike rhyming poetry, however I do not share them. Both rhyme and other forms of poetry possess their merits but I, personally prefer rhyme for the reasons set out above.

As always I would be interested in the views of you my readers.

Kevin

I Prefer Sitting In An Old, Comfortable Armchair

I prefer
Sitting in an old, comfortable armchair,
Reading traditional rhyme
As my clock’s regular chime
Speaks of a more ordered time,
To the idea that we must
Forever thrust
Towards some utopian goal
Where my soul
Is nothing when
Compared to the common good
Of collective men.
I would
Rather sit in my armchair
Or, out of my window stare
not at some abstract “common good”
But at a fine old tree
That will outlast me
Unless some vandal destroy that tree
In the name of a better society,
That will never be.