I was reading some new writing the other day, and I came across a poem by a former member of a writing group I knew many years ago. It was original, edgy, taut; it made me think; it made me feel the emotions the writer wanted me to feel. And the half-rhymes and internal rhymes were subtle and clever. I liked it very much.
I remember when this person joined the group she said she could only write rhyming poetry. It had all the Hallmarks of forced end-rhymes; the distorted sentence construction to make the final word rhyme, the sometimes inappropriate choice of words obviously chosen just the make the rhyme. Try as she might, she kept falling into the pattern: a b a b. I blame it on the schools, because in nearly all the primary schools I visit, I find evidence that that is the way poetry writing is taught: it must rhyme. It doesn’t have to be that way. One way I try to get round it is to introduce haiku and tanka, and to tell the children that these forms don’t rhyme. Another way is to tell them that the most important thing is to get their thoughts down on paper first, and leave editing for polish to later, including putting in rhymes if they want to. I really don’t have anything against rhyming poetry, but I don’t like automatic rhyming. I love subtle rhyming, but I don’t like mangled syntax.