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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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Reduced to Rhyme: On Contemporary Doggerel

Reduced to Rhyme: On Contemporary Doggerel

(p.6) Reduced to Rhyme: On Contemporary Doggerel
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

David Caplan

University Press of Mississippi

Rhyme is more a contested than shared aspect of poetry, songs, or the occasional verse. It also figures prominently in advertisements, aphorisms, tabloid headlines, and virtually every form of popular music, from pop and country-and-western to punk and hip hop. Many literary critics mistake rhyming verse for all rhyme, regarding other kinds as eccentric amusements or, at best, preparation for poetry. The term “doggerel” was first applied to poetry in a loose or irregular and somewhat burlesque manner, but now is often used derogatorily to mean monotonous in rhythm and clumsy in rhyme. This chapter examines how doggerel, in the best sense of the term, functions as a major form in contemporary hip hop and a minor form in contemporary poetry. Specifically, it considers how rhyme allows hip hop artists to achieve daring effects.

Keywords:   poetry, songs, rhyme, hip hop, doggerel, rhythm, hip hop artists

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