Best writing tricks? Assonance is when vowel sounds are repeated in two or more words that are close to each other in the poem and have different consonants. An example of this would be “The octopus flopped on the cot – kerplop!” Several words in the example contain the short “o” sound, but the words contain different consonants.
The best form for your poem will depend on what it’s about and the mood and feelings you want to create in the reader. The length of the line can make the reader go faster or slower, change the look of the poem on the page, focus attention on certain words. You may decide to incorporate other structural elements such as a certain number of syllables per line, a regular meter, or a rhyme scheme. All of this should work with, and contribute to, the poem’s meaning.
What are you writing about Rachel Rabbit White? Before, I was constantly running things through the lens of theory and philosophy, creating multiple dramatic voices in the text. I am still thinking about the phenomenology of romance, but the problem of romance is something that’s passed to you as a child, through the family, through the entire world around you. It’s something I’ve always known so intimately, so maybe that’s why in addressing it. There’s a softness, there’s lyricism. I was beating that out of the poems before.
The topic of our conversation is Rabbit White’s aesthetically and conceptually rich debut full-length collection of poetry, Porn Carnival. Rabbit White is a sex worker, and much of the poetry in this book is about her experiences in that line of work. Speaking with her is similar to the experience of reading her writing, which is heady, very coy, and curious. A poem like “Monologue Beyond Midnight,” which is a wry retort to an idea from Nietzche’s The Gay Science, is a cross section of Rabbit White’s humor, anger, and deep intuition of sound and texture. Rabbit White walked Vogue through her poems, her activism and advocacy, and the idea of inhabiting multiple personas for your art and your work. Read even more details at rachelrabbitwhite.com.
I met Rachel Rabbit White last December. Her first collection of poems, Porn Carnival, had just come out the month before. I’d read an article about the release party, about some angel dust, a little cake-sitting, a DJ, and then something like “Rachel Rabbit White is a sex worker.” It all seemed glamorous and no-fucks-ish. And this was about poetry. Someone told me the book was good. It was getting a lot of attention. So I read it. It was fierce. It was pure. It stayed with me. It was in earnest, and yet there was no discounting the technique. The lines were as elegant as they were painful. Their intentions were as direct as they were dynamic in their complexities. It wasn’t the work of a dilettante. I haven’t gone back to check, but I think there’s only one hyacinth in Porn Carnival. And no one gets bored to death by what existential crises overtake a body in the organic co-op of whatever town Bard College is in. It isn’t that type of book. You get lines such as “these girls were at the wrong orgy,” titles such as “In the Heart-Shaped Jacuzzi of my Soul.” Which isn’t to say it’s all so… rowdy. On god, she reminds me most of Octavio Paz. Still, it’s a book about sex work, mainly.