In the liner notes to Biograph, the 1985 box set looking back on Bob Dylan‘s extensive career, Dylan shares his reasoning behind deciding, before his career took off, to play folk music. To him, folk music had more power than any other genre of music he’d experienced:
“The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.”
Bob Dylan’s music stands out not because of his technical skills as a musician, but because of his ability to combine poetry with music. Take the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” for example. Lyrically, it’s a masterful survey of the world he lived in, with references to the drugs, politics, and social unrest that characterized the 1960s. The fast-paced, driving rhythm of the song expresses the tumultuous nature of the times and gives the words further emphasis. The fusion of the lyrics and the frantic rhythm of the song together make a very compelling poetic statement.
For this week’s poetry prompt, channel your inner folk singer by focusing on rhythm as a vehicle for poetic expression.
Pick a strong emotion or feeling you’ve experienced and find a rhythm that matches it. It could be anywhere from fast and frantic to slow, stately, and reserved. With this rhythm cycling through your mind, begin to add words to it. Don’t worry about being too coherent at first. Focus on your conception of the emotion and the things you associate with it, and build from there.