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This elephant does not fully understand slant rhyme.

Hey poets! Manicddaily, a/k/a Karin Gustafson, here in my first “Meet the Bar” challenge asking you to take a new slant on your writing.

Slant rhyme! I always think of it as rhyme that doesn’t quite.

Slant rhyme is imperfect rhyme, half-rhyme, rhyme that don’t fully stuff the cat in the hat, but let the cat’s head or tail or even whole mid-section lounge about the brim.


This cat does not at all understand slant rhyme.

Slant rhymes are words like “slant” and “bent”. “Just” and “jest.” “Love” and “move.”  “Cat” and “hot” (as in tin roof.)

Slant rhymes (to my way of thinking) are very effective in serious poetry as they allow for some of the music of a rhyme without its silliness.

Wait! Straight rhyming is great–but it can sometimes descend into a hurdy-gurdy sing-song. This is fun and may even be bitingly effective, but it can undermine the tone of a poem, and, because of a relative shortage of straight rhymes, overdependence on straight rhymes can lead to cliche. (Moon, June, spoon, tune.)

At the same time, a serious poem with no rhyme can sometimes edge into the prosaic.

Slant rhyme is used quite commonly today in rap poetry–where poets feel bound to rhyme but also want to reach for unusual combinations. One of the greatest more traditional poets using slant rhyme was Emily Dickinson. (She was quite criticized for it in her time; people thought she just couldn’t come up with regular rhymes.)

I heard a Fly buzz

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886 20140522-070121.jpg

Storm, room, firm, room, be, fly.

So, Poets, your task today (if you choose to accept it) is to incorporate slant rhyme in your poem, i.e. get bent!

A couple of further points–please (i) feel free to mix slant rhymes and straight rhymes as Dickinson does; (ii) do not feel obligated to end your lines on your slant rhymes (although this is pretty cool and if you want to make a poem of slant couplets or quartets you should feel absolutely free to do so.)

Also–please try not to manipulate word order to end a line with your rhymes–slant or straight:  “Up the mountain I climbed to see, whether follow she would me.” This type of manipulation really isn’t necessary here (or ever, I would argue!) but especially not with slant rhymes because there are so many more word choices. (But, go ahead, do it if you want!)

Finally, slant your way over to your other poets to check out their posts. See you on the diagonal!

What to do if you are new here:

• Write a poem using some kind of slant rhyme and post your poem to your blog.

• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below.

• Check up on other poets.  Read and comment on other people’s work.

• Share, if you like, via your favorite social media platforms.

• Above all- have fun!

(Last caveat–all text and drawings here are original to me, and under copyright. If you like elephants though, check out my little children’s counting book 1 MISSISSIPPI. I’ve also published a humorous teen novel NOSE DIVE, and poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE. And I hope hope hope to have a serious novel out soon, called NICE.)