I bought Stephen Fry's book The Ode Less Travelled yesterday, as it gives a thorough but approachable introduction to prosody ("the art of versification"). It contains technical descriptions and exercises to introduce the various elements of poetry: so far, I've been learning about metre, feet, iambs, iambic pentameter, enjambment and caesura. Some of this stuff I covered in my English A Level, but surprisingly little: I think it had gone out of fashion at the time I was studying English. Even in my English Literature degree, I didn't cover the technicalities in any great detail. It's certainly interesting, and I'm hoping it will help me make more informed analyses of other people's poetry, and make me appreciate the benefits of using traditional poetic forms and approaches.
So my creative output today was in response to the first exercise in the book: writing 20 lines or pairs of lines in iambic pentameter (ten syllable lines with a ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum rhythm, i.e. a stress on every even-numbered syllable). I managed 15, some of which match the requirements, but not all (I always found detection of stresses difficult). It's surprisingly hard to write like this, as it forces you to make certain choices about the first word on a line (it can't have a stressed first syllable). Here are my attempts:
A cough, a sneeze, before we wake for food.
The written word so rarely read this well.
I'm pretty sure the second line is wrong.
The broken record turns about itself.
My mother drinks a glass of bitter beer.
Before the dawn was brighter than we thought.
Perhaps gorillas wander to and fro.
We watch their shiny bottoms come and go.
The crazy cops are seeking someone bad.
A shot, a shout, a scattered crowd of folk
Derides the nonsense spouted by a priest.
The telly always offers us its crap.
Consider if you will the elephant.
More adverts disappear us as we stare.
Aghast, he saw his picture on the floor.
He fell upon them, crying out in fear.
A picture frame is seldom red, it seems.
They borrow chairs to fill the empty hall.