Monday, September 27, 2010

Snips of Jellyfish

I was planning to blog about Kay Ryan -- one of the three or four living poets whose work I actually care about -- but Paris Review just interviewed her so I can put this off for a while:


How did you come up with what you’ve called recombinant rhyme?
When I started writing nobody rhymed—it was in utter disrepute. Yet rhyme was a siren to me. I had this condition of things rhyming in my mind without my permission. Still I couldn’t take end-rhyme seriously, which meant I had to find other ways—I stashed my rhymes at the wrong ends of lines and in the middles—the front of one word would rhyme with the back of another one, or one word might be identical to three words. In “Turtle,” for instance, I rhyme “afford” with “a four-oared,” referring to a four-oared helmet: “Who would be a turtle who could help it? / A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet, / she can ill afford the chances she must take / in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.” The rhymes are just jumping all around in there, holding everything together. 
What’s recombinant rhyme? It’s like how they add a snip of the jellyfish’s glow-in-the-dark gene to bunnies and make them glow green; by snipping up pieces of sound and redistributing them throughout a poem I found I could get the poem to go a little bit luminescent.


Andrew B. said...

Who are the other poets?

Zed said...

Geoffrey Hill, Paul Muldoon, and people I know personally (not a terribly large set).