just listening to the book show on RN – on the poetics of hiphop.

i love it when the academics catch on. ‘wait up, you guys! i’m coming too, i just have to get my pencil case!’

what do people think of the rhyming=populist theory?

Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills was Overland fiction editor between 2012 and 2018. Her latest novel, The Airways, is out through Picador.

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  1. I am still trying to figure out what is wrong with populism? To me it is just the opposite of elitism. People like rhyme. (P.S. Sometimes academics catch on but they never catch up.)

  2. i gave hip hop to white boys when nobody was looking / they found it locked in the basement when they gentrified brooklyn…right or wrong, i think hip-hop is where it belongs.
    -saul williams

  3. Nicholson Baker’s excellent book The Anthologist has some really good passages on rhyme. One of his arguments is that rhyme is not some affectation, nor simply a mnemonic tool, but is central to how we learn to talk, since speech depends on differences and similarities in tongue shapes. Hence a rhyme pulls you back to the beginning of speech.
    Whether that’s true or not, I dunno. But it’s kinda nice.

  4. There are theories of brain wave patterns and heartbeats too, Jeff. But i wonder how much of it is cultural. The idea of a primal speech worries me for some reason. Illusions of universality perhaps.

    Then again ‘Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.’ – Ezra Pound.

    And then hiphop came along to drag poetry back onto the dance floor.

  5. It’s a wonder Pound didn’t give up on Imagism and Cantos to become a ballerina. I mean, I happen to agree with him, but was like a used car salesman for new poetry. If he were around when Sugarhill Gang did Rapper’s Delight he’d probably have and embraced end-rhyming and metronomic rhythm and then started a record label.

    Primal speech/speaking in tongues worries me, too, but I don’t see how it relates to rhyme being intrinsic to language?

  6. I’ve always been interested in the connection of poetry with music, primarily through song (reflects my tertiary musical education). I believe Pound was too – he had a strong musical education, and lamented that he had no voice for singing. His musical achievements were various, including republications/transcriptions of troubadour music, and operas!

    Interestingly, these have all been largely forgotten.

  7. Poetry bands are springing up all ove Australia:

    Sean M Whelan and the Interim Lovers
    Graham Nunn & Sheish Money
    Maxine Clarke and the People Tree…Sean is on tonight at Wordplay if you wanna look in…oh, and did I mention my next gig…?

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