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beats vs syllables...

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els

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How many beats would you give the word "wild" in poetry?  I'm hoping two, which is the way we pronounce it around here - wi-ld.  I've heard some southern and western folk pronounce it on one beat.
Or am I just too worried about this?  I've got it as 2 beats, and it sounds great, not forced at all.
#1 - September 29, 2003, 11:41 AM

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This is one of those "tough" words, els, that can be pronounced two ways, depending on the reader.  It's best to avoid using those in poems where the reader has a choice.  Sometimes, you can "force" the reader to read them the way you want them to, but not often.  I had several of these in my Tattered Sails book, and either took them out and replaced them with other words, or "fixed" them so the reader had to read them in a way that made the beat always come out right in the story.

Example:

I had a verse that went like this:

Sacks of clothing,
Tools, stacked.
Livestock, baggage,
Loaded, packed.

Tools could be read as one or two syllables.  If you read it the way I did, to - ols, then it was fine.  But if you read tools as a one syllable word, then the entire line was thrown off.  After agonizing over it for some time, I came up with this solution, which somehow "forces" the reader to read it as one syllable word, so now with the extra word in front of it, it works.

Sacks of clothing,
Work tools, stacked.
Livestock, baggage,
Loaded, packed.

In another verse in the same book, I had the same problem with this verse and the word "sails."

Battened hatches,
Barrels rolled.
Tattered sails,
Leaky hold.

In this case, I made the decision to NOT change the phrase/word, because the line, "tattered sails, " was the title of the book and I wanted it left in the text of the book.  Apparently, it didn't hurt the book any, as this was my book that Child Magazine named one of the Best Books of the Year in 2001 when it was released.

You can't be sure the readers will always read it "your way," so it's a hard decision to make.  You might want to ask several people who aren't familiar with your story and aren't particularly good at reading poetry to read it aloud to you and see if they stumble/pronounce it in a way that causes rhythm flow problems.  If any of them do, then you know it's something you should probably change.
#2 - September 29, 2003, 11:56 AM
Verla Kay

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els

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Thanks Verla!
This is going to be a toughie.   :writing:  
#3 - September 29, 2003, 12:45 PM

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