Negative Basketball Poetry–Dactyl Practice

Basketball poet out running the court

Chasing the ball like a frustrated nun

Playing the game like a negative sport

Fighting position and capturing none.

The negative basketball poetry sort.


I have been out looking for poetry challenges to help me grow as a writer. One of the many things that I have been trying to improve in my poetry is the rhythm. Up until now, I have been allowing my poetic rhythm to find its own course. I pay some attention to how I am writing, and I read the lines aloud to make sure the rhythm flows. But mostly, I have just been allowing whatever ingrained sense of rhythm I happen to have do its work. But today, I was looking at the glossary of Poetic Terms on the Poetry Foundation website and read about the dactyl rhythmic structure.

A dactyl is a poetic rhythm that starts with an accented syllable and is followed by two unaccented syllables. The glossary gives the example of ‘basketball’ and ‘poetry’ as words that follow the accented-unaccented-unaccented dactyl pattern. I believe that ‘syllable’ also follows the same dactyl pattern, but don’t take my word of it because I am not particularly strong at recognizing accented verses unaccented syllables.

If you would like to learn more about dactyls or any other poetry terms, you can find Poetry Foundation’s Glossary of Poetic Terms here:


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