Thank you for your interest in my work and you do not need to be ‘sorry’ about asking questions.
Those questions that you ask about method, setting etc, are all questions, alongside many others, I have asked myself over the years, and are indeed questions I keep coming back to.
In 2020 I published a book of ‘Rhymes on Rhymes’ (202 pages) in which I tried to address some of the many questions surrounding this activity of writing rhyme. However, I will try to answer the specific questions you have posed in the order that they come in and the first one might be more comprehensively explained by reproducing a few verses from a ‘spoof’ PhD thesis ‘A Thesis on Constructive Conversations Inversed’ (2012) (368 pages).
The process or method would depend upon the type of rhyme: many of my rhymes have been a simple ‘translation’ of other people’s stories of irresolvable or difficult problems in their lives. Hence, the ‘method’ starts with empathetic listening:
Most of my work has now been done.
And outlined in this book for fun.
But now I think it’s overdue.
To put my mind to something new.
Perhaps I should explain myself.
And why this book’s now on the shelf.
In part a spoof on Ph D’s.
This thesis wasn’t meant to please.
Partly it was meant to show.
That there’s a different way to go.
There’s good research that can be done.
By practically anyone.
You do not need a PhD.
For working scientifically.
For a scientific system.
You need insight and some wisdom.
Then if you are systematic.
Research can be automatic.
Avoiding that toxaemia.
That comes from academia.
If you look close I think you’ll find.
That they have their own axe to grind.
And they will do their very best.
To reject all they don’t test.
It’s all about control and power.
And the ways that they devour.
Every single good idea.
That may happen to come near.
All ideas they want to own.
So they can put them out on loan.
It’s like they have an ideas bank.
That they want us all to thank.
If you’ve an idea to invest.
Beware of their self- interest.
B. Withers 2012 5
Those who know me might have guessed.
The hypothesis I wished to test.
Is simple in its basic form.
But does not fit to any norm.
I had this simple supposition.
Which soon became a proposition.
That conversations made with me.
Could be transcribed to poetry.
The conversations came from those.
Which I had written down in prose.
I made sure they were all booked.
So they would not be overlooked.
So in effect these books combine.
To complete this work of mine.
The prose are used as reference.
The rhymes are done in deference.
Whilst it’s idiosyncratic.
It’s also very systematic.
The method used also confirms.
It’s done in scientific terms.
But like all science there’s an art.
In searching whilst you take apart.
Listening to your communicant.
And finding what’s significant.
As these verses each were done.
They were fed-back one by one.
So people giving information.
Had the chance for confirmation.
This was all methodical.
Repeatable and logical.
And I was very deeply moved.
As my hypothesis was proved.
B. Withers 2012 6
In this thesis you will see.
The basis for this poetry.
But if you want a closer look.
The data’s in another book.
All of the verses written hear.
Were done in just one single year.
But I would like for you to know.
The work behind them wasn’t so.
Once and sometimes twice a week.
I’d listen to the people speak.
And it’s taken many years.
To document these people’s fears.
It started with a simple notion.
They had problems with emotion.
So I had to find a way.
To let these people have their say.
All the listening that was done.
Could not be done by anyone.
A method was devised by me.
Resulting from my PhD.
This took a subject of their choice.
And gave to it a different voice.
Basically it was about.
Educing their emotions out.
It drew out each emotional gem.
And showed its relevance to them.
Thus coming from emotional mire.
Conversational rapid fire.
Each and every thought they had.
Showed their lives were bad and sad.
Their thoughts were written down by me.
And published for eternity.
And now I thought I’d spend some time.
Translating all those thoughts to rhyme.
B. Withers 2012 7
The data for this PhD
And therefore for my poetry.
Collected over many years.
Documented thoughts and fears.
In the method that I did.
I used a form of Kelly’s Grid.
Where every listed element.
Was absolutely relevant.
All the elements were questions.
Constructs came from their suggestions.
They did not have to search to find.
Constructs simply sprang to mind.
Subjects for each conversation.
Often born from sheer frustration.
And so the constructs freely flow.
Telling us just what they know.
Though this method was terrific.
It was also scientific.
Repeatability was clear.
So number-crunchers need not fear.
Contributions were undeterred.
Because I hardly said a word.
Standard questions did the trick
To help their answers come real quick.
Because their answers were instinctive.
They were also quite distinctive.
It’s then that I could document.
All their grief and malcontent.
These responses formed the data.
That I found was useful later.
When at last I found the time.
To sit down here and make it rhyme.
B. Withers 2012 8
CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS (CC)
‘Constructive Conversations’ that’s ‘CC’.
Was developed for a PhD.
To mark this time in history.
It finished in 1993.
CCs simply provide a way.
For folks to talk and have their say.
CCs educe, so people may. (educe = to draw-out)
Conduct the flow in their own way.
When your whole life is in a mess.
So many things can cause distress.
When life’s events have been unkind.
Negative thoughts will fill your mind.
When mind is blinded by commotion.
The dominant force is pure emotion.
If you cannot control that force.
It can knock you way off course.
CCs can calm chaotic din.
And help to reign emotions in.
An emotional pedagogic.
Translates emotion into logic.
Impulsive thoughts which spring to mind.
Can be caught and realigned.
Placing emotions in logic’s form.
Is not unlike the old brainstorm.
CC’s questions are subtly framed.
So as it flows emotions’ tamed.
And as CCs come near the end.
That’s when we start to comprehend.
CC’s explore emotional ground.
Where answers of our own are found.
Gradually we overcome.
Then we know what must be done.
B. Withers 2012 9
‘Constructive conversations’ say.
So much more than others say.
A special method to converse.
That I will now portray in verse.
‘Constructive’ means it builds upon.
Foundations that are sound and strong.
Asking questions to produce.
Conversations of some use.
Comprehensive and extensive.
They’re emotionally intensive.
With an underlying notion.
To tame your sore and raw emotion.
When pressure makes you want to burst.
Emotions can be at their worst.
It’s then constructive talking can.
Help you think and help you plan.
All those things that make you frown.
And everything that drags you down.
All those things that bother you.
Can be resolved by talking through.
I don’t mean just with idle chat.
You won’t get far with talk like that.
To deal with things effectively.
You need to talk ‘constructively’.
Educe everything that’s negative.
Then counter with the positive.
Surprises have a job to hide.
When you examine every side.
Ask each question one by one.
Use your own answers as they come.
Let your imagination flow.
Then watch your conversation grow.
Write one thought down and then the next.
I find it helps to keep the text.
As I refer to what I’ve said.
More thoughts will spring into my head.
‘Constructive’ conversing clarifies.
All my questions and replies.
And as my conversations end.
Clarity begins my friend.
B. Withers 2011 10
Defining a specific setting is a bit more complex than might first appear. Firstly, (for me) one of the hardest parts of the process is finding the concepts to work on, so these are things that can come from anywhere, at anytime and in many forms.
Once a concept is in my head, it needs working on immediately, while the mental energy, enthusiasm and motivation is high. This may mean jotting down the rhymes (on my phone) wherever I am and whatever I may have otherwise been doing. I can then copy them onto the computer later.
Sometimes I sit at the computer and ‘create’ concepts on a theme ( like ‘bullying ‘or ‘kindness’ ) which gives me a focus, a reference point and an aim for a collection of rhymes culminating eventually in a book.
As mentioned above, rhymes are often written in a variety of different places and settings, all with different background noises.
Music is a background noise, which may or may not be ‘distracting’.
Mostly, I would prefer either silence or the sounds of nature, such as birds singing or rain hitting the windows. However, I find that there is no such thing as complete silence for, as soon as surrounding sound is no longer present, I begin to hear my own body making noises ( breathing, heartbeat, bones creaking etc.) I am never sure which I prefer , but I simply try not to let any of the extraneous sounds interfere with the process of thinking or writing.
And, finally, I will choose just one more rhyme (from a whole load in ‘Rhymes on Rhymes’), which tries to encapsulate why I write in this way .
Sorry if all this rhyming is too much, but it is hard to reduce the thousands of concepts, written over many years, into a single summary. Hence, I hope you enjoy the few that I am sharing here.
MY POETRY 4. (CALM)
For those of you without a clue
about ‘CALM’, and what they do.
I will explain as best I can
whilst I remain nonpartisan.
‘CALM’ is a simple acronym
so similar to my poems
in its basic sentiment
that I agree with what is meant.
Campaign Against Living Miserably
for me, becomes ostensibly
the same as what I try to do
from a poet’s point of view.
Within the principles of ‘CALM’
my writing rhyme will do no harm,
for what it does is highlight those
who are the cause of other’s woes.
I cannot see a reason why,
that as a poet I can’t try
to make things better through my rhyme
and heal the wounds made over time.
I cannot for the life of me
see people living miserably
and not attempt to help them out
by finding out what it’s about.
Counselling is well and good,
but I feel every person should
contribute in the ways that they
communicate and have their say.
So, as a poet, I will write
my rhyming verse to put things right,
or at least try to document
some of their angst and discontent.
B. Withers 2020