Chunk 3


Ryan’s fascination with the extravagant glory of rhyme is illustrated on the facing page in “Shark’s Teeth.” Notice how the rhymes are prominent to the ear, yet buried within the very short lines themselves; this is characteristic of her style: how Ryan gives herself wiggle room:
Shark’s Teeth
Everything contains some
silence. Noise gets
its zest from the
small shark’s-tooth-
shaped fragments
of rest angled
in it. An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark. Sometimes
a bit of a tail
or fin can still
be sensed in parks (6).

Consider the rhyme types in this poem—remembering that rhymes are based on identical vowel sounds between two words. Ryan packs the poem’s four sentences with in strict rhyme (gets-zest-rest, sharks-parks), assonance (bit-fin, reigned-dangerous), alliteration (some-silence, shark’s-shaped, in-it), consonance (shaped-rest, tail-still), and other sonic devices within a very small space. This sonic density within a very small space is typical of her work. yet she Ryan avoids the dreaded “sing-song” effect by not forcing the linebreaks to coincide with rhyming pairs. The poem is made up of four sentences. This is what workshop instructors call “hiding the scaffolding,” or masking the overtly formal aspects of craft within a conversational-sounding voice.


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