I was thinking about the power of restrictions and their ability to squeeze out creativity recently. There have been a couple of stories bobbing about in my head and I was having trouble getting them down, but I think that is because they both require some attention to narrative structure. I think I have found a way for one of them, perhaps both, but as the second one is my long-threatened novel, then it is unlikely that it will ever be published on this blog.

Quite a lot of short, sharp ideas have been bouncing around my head in the last couple of weeks, no doubt assisted by the creative challenge I have been doing, which involves having a look at or a listen to a different piece of creative work every day for 15 days and thinking about the response. So far, I have been delighted with my ignorance, in that I was not aware of many of the pieces and as inspiration, the pieces have certainly led me to some interesting places.

Even though I am not a poet, sometimes when I just want to get the essence of an idea down –  poets will turn in their graves at the thought of this – I jot it down in poetic form to try and just quickly capture the idea. Of course really, if I was more patient or talented, the poem would be perfect; the careful distillation of my rambling into writing’s purest form, but it isn’t so will have to put up with being my literary Post-it note for now.

One of the lines in my head, I thought sounded vaguely iambic in rhythm so I revisited the structure of the sonnet, largely to check on the rhyming schemes. The one I am most familiar with is the Shakespearean, but I also checked out Petrarchan and from there a discussion of poems that are classed as sonnets even though they do not adhere strictly to the form, such as Shelley’s Ozymandias.

I got to thinking about rhyme being not always just a method of stamping the final point home (like the last line of a limerick, which locks in an expectation of the punchline) but like a thread which weaves its way in and out of the verse. If I imagine the rhyme to be a bright piece of scarlet thread and design it to weave through the poem and pull the reader in and away – as much by absence of rhyme as by its presence, then what would that do? So I looked at designing a rhyming scheme first and then trying to create a piece afterwards.

The normal Shakespearean sonnet is as follows:


So what if I were to try and thread the rhyme, for example like this:


Let’s try with just quick rhyme:

I like peas
On my bread
Any day
Alive or dead
On my knees
In your way
On my head
On the floor
Come what may
I want more
Every time
Every door
They can please
With such ease.

I like this. I like the way that the floor springs up and hits you in the face, and this is without exactly trying to think about how the scarlet thread is working – because I have not got the words down yet, just knowing that it is.

I think I am going to have a go at designing some 14 line rhyme schemes and then working the words around that, because the last poem I wrote wanted to be slightly more off kilter than it was, but did not get there. I guess that will have to wait for the redraft. In the meantime I have a new idea to play with for the Post it note that is currently banging on the inside of my skull trying to get out.

So if you will excuse me, I have a needle to thread.


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