April is poetry month. Song writers are poets. Most poets use repetition. Repetition is an important tool for poets, song writers, and speech writers.

Why? Speakers, songwriters, and poets use repetition to give their writing rhythm, emphasis, and unity. Could rhyming be defined as the repetition or echoing of like sounds? I maintain that sound is what poetry and lyrics are all about, but there cannot be so much rhyming that a poem gets a singsong quality. Poems must appeal to or jar our sense of sound.

Leonard Cohen, poet and lyricist, was most famous as the creator of “Hallelujah.” Saturday Night Live opened its first post-Trump election show with Kate McKinnon singing “Hallelujah.” According to one Newsweek article I read, there have been sixty renditions of the song, including the soundtrack for the movie Shrek. One of the primary techniques Cohen used in this song was repetition of the title. Repetition works when done well.

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used eight units of parallelism and repetition. I believe these units of parallelism and repetition help make the speech memorable.

Go back and look at and listen to some of your favorite songs and poems. Can you locate units of repetition? Did you find repetition of a word, phrase, or sentence?How do they give the song or poem a sense of rhythm, emphasis, and unity?

Repetition is important in many aspects of our lives. Can you find repetition in a favorite quilt? Is there a yearly repetition of the seasons? 

If you’re like me getting bored with the repetition of your days in quarantine, think about how repetitions in your daily life ground you and give you a sense of self. What repeated action do you cling to on a daily basis? My coffee keeps me going. Write a poem based on the repetition of your days practicing social distancing.