The Barefoot Muse

A Journal Of Formal & Metrical Verse

Issue #3, Summer 2006

About the artist, Erin McGee

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Dreaming in Iambic Pentameter

Anna Evans Home Page

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I would like to present The Barefoot Muse's nominations for the Best of the Net Anthology to be brought out by Sundress publications.

From the current issue:

From the Winter 2005 issue:

Good luck everyone! It would be gratifying to see some formal/metrical work in the anthology.


A stirring defense of rhyming and/or metrical poetry is mounted in the July/August Issue of Poets & Writers Magazine by Reagan Upshaw, an NYC poet and art dealer. In answer to the question of how we can lodge our poems in a reader's memory he replies "Poems with rhyme and meter have a better chance of survival."

Also today, I discovered a new online poetry journal dedicated to formal poetry by women. Visit Mezzo Cammin for some fine poems by contemporary formal greats Rhina P. Espaillat and Jennifer Reeser, as well as criticism centered on women who write formal verse.


Recently I have been coming across more and more instances of journal guidelines which state "No rhyming poetry" or "No end rhyme." At first I wasn't sure if I should be disturbed by this or not. After all, here at The Barefoot Muse we only publish formal and/or metrical poetry. Don't other journals therefore, have the right to exclude rhyme?

Then I decided there was a subtle difference. We are a niche journal: we INCLUDE work belonging to the positive space defined by the boundaries of our niche. That's okay, in the same way as it is okay for a journal to accept only science-fiction poems or haiku. The difference in the "No Rhyme" case is that this is typically a mainstream journal defining a negative space--not our entire niche but a significant portion of it--and EXCLUDING that.

The problem with EXCLUSION as opposed to INCLUSION, as I think any minority group will tell you, is one of implied hierarchy. I don't believe there is a hidden message on this site regarding free verse: it simply doesn't belong in this niche. Personally, I read, write and credit a great deal of free verse. However, the hidden message in the "No Rhyme" journals is that rhyming poems are "no-good" or "old-fashioned."

Clearly I don't agree with that message. Nor do the top echelon journals--Poetry, for example, quite regularly publishes poetry in traditional forms.

Therefore I am compiling a Give Rhyme a Break List of all journals who have such wording in their guidelines. Please email me every time you come across a new example of such a journal. Note: other niche journals which exclude rhyme automatically because of the nature of THEIR niche, e.g. concrete poetry journals, do not count. Similarly any journal that has "Free Verse" or "Verse Libre" in the title may be excused. The oft-seen phrase "No Hallmark verse" doesn't bother me either. (I quite regularly reject whole batches of Hallmark verse and good riddance.) What we're trying to do here is to get those journals that believe they can represent the breadth of excellence in poetry today without including any rhyme, to analyse their own thought processes and justify its exclusion. I would love to hear from the editors themselves. In many cases, I think they may just not be aware of the kind of lyrical brilliance we new formalists can produce!

Let's get the discussion going.

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