Free Verse Rhythms: Special Issue of Style (February 1, 2014)

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Roi Tartakovsky
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“Free Verse Rhythms” Collection in Style

For a forthcoming issue, Style is seeking essays on “Free Verse Rhythms.” While so much of the poetry of the past (and current) century has done away with meter, the same cannot be said about rhythm. The difficulty and perplexity of discussing the vague term rhythm is evident already in Harvey Gross’s statement that “[t]he notation of scansion defines with comfortable accuracy metrical structure; the rhythms of even the simplest poem are too complex to be ever completely analyzed.” When meter is recognizable in the line, its pervasiveness is such that rhythm is often understood first and foremost in relation to it, as in Philip Hobsbaum’s prevalent metaphor: “Metre is a blueprint; rhythm is the inhabited building.” Yet when we turn to the myriad of poems that do not exhibit a discernible meter, or even the “ghost of meter,” how can we talk meaningfully of rhythm? Among other prosodists, Richard Cureton’s Rhythmic Phrasing in English Verse has made headway in this question, in his insistence on the multidimensional nature of rhythm and the development of critical concepts to discuss the rhythmic dynamic on levels much higher than the organization of syllables.

In this issue we seek to further expand our rhythmic vocabulary, and are interested in essays that address the poetics of free verse, both classical and contemporary, with an eye towards the intricacies of their formal features. We are looking both to consider test cases of individual poets’ employment of rhythm, as well as general tools that advance our understanding of what rhythm is through its theorization and exemplification in free(r) verse poetries. Likewise of interest are essays that discuss, in part or in full, innovations in the pedagogy of rhythm. Among other areas that could be addressed are: metrical innovations within free verse, rhythms on levels higher or lower than the syllable, visual rhythms, musical aspects of free verse, the rhythm of poetic staples as metaphor, enjambment and rhyme, analysis of intonation and close listening to recordings, and cultural aspects of rhythm.

Please send essays of 5,000-7,000 words to the guest editor Roi Tartakovsky, at Please send e-correspondence concerning questions or statements of possible interest soon after you read this CFP. However, the final deadline for all submissions is February 1, 2014.

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