Perhaps the internet has murdered parlour games. Hell, why play Charades these days when it’s so much simpler, and less risky, to google cats sitting on automatic vacuum-cleaners or goats that sound like Taylor Swift? But call me old-fashioned, I still like the finer distractions in life. And I’m calling on you, poets, to preserve and promote the most esoteric ways of wasting time ever invented.
If anyone can do it, it’s you.
Bouts Rimes were invented in post-Revolution, pre-Internet France, after a minor poet (everyone’s favourite kind) named Dulot (of whom, Wikipedia states ‘little else is remembered’) who was robbed of his manuscripts by a thief with a very poor business plan. At a party some days later, Dulot told his friends that he’d lost over 200 sonnets that he’d completed in the last week. ‘Two hundred sonnets in one week?’ said friends asked. ‘C’est impossible, n’est ce pas?’ Not at all, according to our man Dulot. He’d written only the end-rhymes, the ‘bout rimes’, and was planning to fill in the rest later.
Thus did Dulot’s poet-friends invent the parlour game Bouts Rimes, each stringing together seven pairs of rhyming end-words, then passing them to another poet, who was then charged with filling in the rest of the sonnet. And apparently such things could go viral quickly even then – the craze spreading through France faster than the smell of an extremely ripe blue cheese.
But that’s enough history.
Poets, what I’m asking you to do is simple. Over the next months, Seizure will be providing you with complete sets of end-rhymes, provided by various poets, editors, ratbags and our otherwise friends. It’s up to you to do the rest. Stun us with your sonnets. Fill those blanks with something beautiful, or magical, or madcap; put meat on the poem-bones we provide.
The first set of rhymes come to us from Miro Sandev, from his poem ‘Flirting with the Elderly’:
toward the mean we’re often asked to tend
by parish priests, philosophers, the old
who squarely hold our gaze and still pretend
desire, and its embers, has not grown cold
clinging to the middle as to railings
one-time libertines now forced ascetics -
there’s no geriatrics for these ailing,
terse hedonists, only antiseptic
behind the dour admonition lies
a longing to long, to feel as unclean
as the creatures who lived under those skies
when no one had ever heard of the mean
dismiss their lectures! flirt with them instead
let them glimpse the dirt again on death’s bed
In case you need it spelt out, your rhymes are:
tend/pretend; old/cold; railings/ailings; ascetic/antiseptic; lies/skies; unclean/mean; instead/bed
Should you need assistance, Wikipedia can also provide you with some rough guidelines on structuring your sonnet.
Go forth and poemify, mes amis.
First round submissions close 1st June 2014. All submissions must go through Submittable.