Px3: Poetry’s hard, y’all…

It’s been over a week since my last post, in part because I have been wrestling with an unruly piece that isn’t just a poem but also a song lyric. Yeah, the not-at-all lyric writer is composing a song. I suppose it makes sense, given my musical propensities, to begin understanding the poetics through music. I didn’t expect to have a new melody demanding words, or a demand for this new melody.

This post may be a bit disappointing today, because I can’t share the lyrics yet. First, they are not ready by any stretch. Second, they are being written for a particular purpose which can’t be revealed until it’s all ready to go (with final lyrics and lead sheets and translations and everything else involved).  But I still felt like I needed to keep as close to my commitment to you as possible… and while I didn’t bring anything finished to show and tell, I can show you some of the work:

Here’s what I can share:  the piece has a different meter in the chorus and the verses, but because it’s set to music the meter can’t wander off lonely as a cloud. And because it’s meant to be sung by a group of people, it needs to have some external (end of the line) rhyme scheme. And… because each line is fairly short ( in the chorus, in the verses), economy of language is important. So is, as I am realizing, syllabic emphasis. “Respond” sings differently than “answer” (re-SPOND v. ANS-wer) and “dignity” takes up a lot more space than “free”… but shouldn’t be replaced by “liberty”…. and “worthy” has the wrong emphasis…. and then I wonder if this whole lyric is nothing but trite platitudes and meaningless drivel.

Now I am fully aware that the actual professional songwriter I’m working with isn’t going to let this out if it’s not good, so I may be entertaining a little self-deprecating hyperbole. But my fears are leading me to work diligently to create a lyric that inspires and expresses that which needs expressing.

In a strict meter. With a demand for strong rhyme. And expansive, inclusive language.

I’m feeling like I’m in the middle of a ‘woyaya’ moment with this – I will get there, heaven knows HOW I will get there, but I know I will. But the truth is….

Poetry’s hard, y’all.


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