Some years ago, I was invited to write a poem to celebrate the success of a Los Altos Library fund drive. I recited the resulting verse at a party held at the completion of the campaign. Later, one of the members of the solicitation committee described me as a “rhymester.”
I made the mistake of looking up the word: “a maker of trivial or inferior rhyme.” Really? The CEO of what was then perhaps the largest company in Silicon Valley approached me at the party and said, “You can quit your day job!” (Unforgettable words, in the circumstance.)
Another word we poets find wince-inducing is “doggerel.” This is said to mean “rhyme that is rude, crude, poor.” I avoid the word at all costs, calling my own modest efforts “light verse.”
More discouraging to me than the use of unfortunate adjectives to describe my work is the realization, after the fact, that I could have found a better line, a more telling word or phrase. This must happen to the grandmasters of poetry all the time. I do hope.
Some well-regarded contemporary poets – Ogden Nash and Charles Osgood – are indeed considered rhymesters who write doggerel. I suppose there’s solace in knowing that. Still …
‘A Way with Words?’
While rhymesters have a way with words
Some do say their words are lacking.
I’ve always done the best I could
Yet admit to some backtracking.
When I compose a line anew
It may often come out better.
Alas, my Muse can be too late –
I’ve already mailed the letter.