as if the ear is learning to feel

Curtis Fox: Do you find it easier to memorize poems [written] in metre and rhyme?

Dan Beachy-Quick: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I think that it’s memorizing poems in metre and rhyme that has, in certain kinds of ways, guided me towards experiments in metre and rhyme and more traditional form.

Fox: Really? Explain that. How does that work?

Beachy-Quick: Well, I think when you go through the work of memorizing a poem, the metre of it or the rhyme of it or the formal pattern that it’s in ceases to just be a kind of technology of the poem, and you begin to see the real necessity that might be underlying the choice of writing in the sonnet, or the genuine power of what it is to write a poem that takes as a genuine concern the need to find a perfect rhyme, or a slant rhyme. And because those things, too, metre and rhyme, are so absolutely bodily in part of their meaning. One feels a rhythm; rhyme is as much felt as it is heard. It’s almost as if the ear is learning to feel when it hears a great rhyme. Also, I think in a way, memorizing such poems helps one learn to read and take seriously very traditional values in a poem that in a post-modernist framework might be easily dismissed.

- Dan Beachy-Quick, in interview with Curtis Fox for the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast. You can listen to the whole thing here.

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