So after I posted the alliterative A post, I recalled I could have added one more favorite example from literature (well, comics). I am referring to Captain Haddock’s (of Tintin fame) oft-repeated colorful phrase, “Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles.” I might still go and update that post in a bit, but it seemed a cool way to segue into B from A! But I am not talking about barnacles today. Instead I am talking about a poetry match of sorts called Bouts-Rimés.
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Bouts-Rimés: Best Be Ready For A Bout
When I first saw this, I thought of a match; from the literal meaning I knew of the English word bout. And while the word bouts in this has nothing to do with the one meaning fight or match, bouts-rimés itself is kind of a challenge; so the English meaning of bout fits as well (in one way!)
So What is Bouts-Rimés?
Google translate for bouts from French to English returns the word ‘tips’ while rimés (rimes) returns ‘rhymes.’
So bouts-rimés literally means rhymed-tips, or rather rhymed-ends; and from Ron Padgett’s The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms:
‘A bouts-rimés poem is created by one person’s making up a list of rhymed words and giving it to another person, who in turn writes the lines that end with those rhymes, in the same order in which they were given.’
This came about thanks to a obscure French poet named Dulot from the early 17th century. And what we know of Dulot is little – just the story of how he brought bouts-rimés into existence.
Bouts-Rimés: The Story and Continued History
According to the story, around the year 1648 Dulot complained that he had been robbed of three hundred sonnets. When those who heard expressed surprise that he had actually written so many, he clarified that they were “blank sonnets.” He explained that he had put down only the end rhymes (bouts-rimés) and nothing else.
This amused everyone enough that the idea soon caught on; and writing bouts-rimés became a fad. They continued to be composed throughout the 17th century, and a great part of the 18th century as well. And in the 19th century, none other than Alexander Dumas revived it – with a challenge! Dumas invited poets all over France to compose verse using preselected sets of rhymes. Dumas later published the results of this competition; one which attracted no less than 350 writers! (Check the infographic for a more detailed timeline)
And since then, this has been a fun writing exercise for many! So today, I bring that fun over to you..
It Is Your Turn For Fun With Bouts-Rimés
Since Dulot’s original stolen ‘blank rhymes’ were sonnets, that tradition of 14 rhymed lines (rhyme scheme differs based on the type of sonnet the poet chooses to write) continues. So now it is your turn to have fun with this.
- Come up with a set of 14 rhyming words; that is the “blank rhymes” or “end rhymes” to write bouts-rimés. Give it your own twist. Everyone can do this! So even if you are not a poet, you can come up with a list of 14 words for others to chew on!! The more weirder the list of words, the better! Put your list in the comments for all to read and try out. Rhyme scheme suggestions below
- Petrarchan sonnet (ABBA ABBA CDE CDE or ABBA ABBA CDC DCD)
- Shakespearean sonnet (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG)
- Spenserian sonnet (ABAB BCBC CDCD EE)
- Or give it your twist (AABB CCDD EEFF GG or ABCD ABCD ABCD EE or any other but ensure you have enough variety of rhyming pairs)
- Write your own bouts-rimés using any set of rhymed words. Suggestions include
- Lists others have commented here on this post
- End rhymes from a favorite sonnet of yours
- A couple of sets below
- June, stress, moon, obsess, snake, moot, cake, beaut, Garbo, play, hobo, day, rhinestone, cologne (from Columbia College’s journal – Court Green’s own call for bouts-rimés in 2006!)
- tanned, jump, fanned, lump; reading, lawn, misleading, yawn; yo-yo, death, no-no, breath; France and pants (from an example in Ron Padgett’s handbook)
- Additional tips: You could write a traditional sonnet with iambic pentameter or not! Give a fun twist by using enjambment(words across two lines) to fit in that rhyming word if you wish (like moon-light) or make it a part of a bigger word (like Monday) or use a homophone (maid, or even dismayed, for made).
An Example To Help You Along
Here is Christina Rossetti’s attempt to help you along (source: wikipedia)
Methinks the ills of life I fain would shun;
But then I must shun life, which is a blank.
Even in my childhood oft my spirit sank,
Thinking of all that had still to be done.
Among my many friends there is not one
Like her with whom I sat upon the bank
Willow-o’ershadowed, from whose lips I drank
A love more pure than streams that sing and run.
But many times that joy has cost a sigh;
And many times I in my heart have sought
For the old comfort and not found it yet.
Surely in that calm day when I shall die
The painful thought will be a blessed thought
And I shall sorrow that I must forget.
The Bouts-Rimés Timeline
References, h/t, Further Reading
An Extra Bit of ‘B’
Here is the one for the letter B. I got started on this just a couple of days ago and have read most of it already. While I don’t recall when I first read or heard spoken word poetry (it was most likely less than a decade or so), I fell in love with its power from the very first. I read The Poet X by Acevedo (a spoken word poet) and fell deeper; and more recently Gorman’s The Hill We Climb wowed everyone. And while I had not read or heard Jasmine Mans before, I am so very glad I have done so now.
Black Girl, Call Home
Title: Black Girl, Call Home
Author: Jasmine Mans
Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Berkley (March 9th 2021)
Source: Library Copy
Description: From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity. With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself—and us—home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America–and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.
Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.
As I mentioned earlier, I devoured this book. Well, not devoured as such, because there were many points where I had to stop as the impact of the words made me need to do so. But then I had to get back to it right again, to see how Mans choose to tug at my heartstrings next.
Yes, there are many tough subjects this book deals with; and Mans does not turn away from any of them. She discusses everything from racism and rape to eugenics and womanhood, from being a mother and a daughter, to music and queerness, and so much more. Which definitely makes this a tough read as well but one that is needed. And her words!!! I am not sure I can put into words how they made me feel. But I am going to try, just a little.
Like Acevedo’s The Poet X, Man’s Black Girl, Call Home slammed its way into my heart. As I turned the pages, I was torn between emotions; sweet and sad, hopeful and heartrending, rage and tenderness, and a whole gamut of them in fact. Her words are raw and powerful, beautiful and lyrical, and shift from one-liners to really short poems to longer ones with short paragraphs of prose in between. No matter the form they appear in, they are ones that need to be read; and each one will take you through a whirlpool of emotions.
While I don’t think I can really pick favorites, here is a part of one of the first that captured my heart.
On another note, that cover is also simply stunning, right?
Get It Here
- Ten Reasons to Love Verse Novels and Novels I Love
- The Poet X : Book Review : Poetry That Slams Its Way Into Your Heart
- Sunday Scribblings #57: Still Wowed By How Wonderful The Hill We Climb Is
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, as always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions, as well as recommendations. And of course, do include your suggestions for rhyme sets, and maybe even your compositions; for after all, this post is a call for submissions of a sort!
The AtoZ Challenges
You can find all my A2Z Challenge Posts here.