The secret life of Mr Iambic Pentameter – for idiots like me!


There are lots of tried and tested youtube links on iambics at the end, for anyone who does not want to plough through two whole pages of the life and times of me and Mr I!

But at least I have discovered where Mr I has been hiding!  Despite publishing my own poetry book, having had poems in obscure anthologies whizzing around the universe and in Writers News, it still doesn’t seem fair that some clever clogs have known about Mr Iambic’s whereabouts for years.

“Life isn’t fair,” I can remember my dear old mother saying, “so just get on with it!”

Admittedly poetry was part of my BA with the OU but in the days but then many people like me had no access to recorders! I had to wake up at some ungodly hour like 3 o’clock in the morning to listen to the relevant programmes. At the time I had young children and a job,  so fell back to sleep most of the time, thus missing the chance to get acquainted with Mr I or to become ‘enlightened’ into the bargain!

Since living in Brighton I’ve attended poetry courses, read  ‘How to books’, gone to lots of readings and now realise most poets have had a meaningful relationships with  Mr I and were keeping him to themselves!

At Arvon courses they tend to assume one knows about Mr I and all his  ‘feet’,  ‘falls’  and dum di dums or was it da de da’s.  Luckily on the second course the lovely poet Ian Duhig explained it all in detail and told us to go away and endeavour to catch the blighter!

I managed to find him in the kitchen and trap him under a giant  saucepan for a bit and came back to the group to discover all my iambics were perfect. But I still couldn’t catch his beat at home or on a regular basis!

Last year I thought I would plough through Stephen Fry’s book ‘The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within’.  I love this guy and his approach is user friendly, but despite staring at Mr I. for several days, (he can be vain and likes the extra attention) and trying the writing exercises, the cadences only registered for about five minutes and later I was never sure I was on the right lines as it were…

Admittedly language and indeed languages have always been a sensitive issue. I was born with a cleft palate and had speech and breathing problems for many years. Pronunciation of some words can catch me out even today.

It was while studying Neuro Linguistics a few years ago,  that I discovered we all have preferred ways of learning and that I am predominantly a visual/kinesthetic learner (the latter is where learning takes place by the student actually carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or by reading about it) so what I needed was a teacher who could trap Mr I permanently and hand him to me on a plate!

So I’ve found the best of Mr I for  visual/kinesthetics. I am going to listen, learn, repeat his  dum de dums or was it da de das until they really sink in.

After all not only did Shakespeare use them of course, but modern day rappers and performance poets use them all time. As a poet I need to move on.

So thank you lovely people on youtube who are prepared to give of their time and expertise for nothing.  


Loved this one very down to earth refers to Shakespeare as well as football, bringing it all to life, very good


Good, dead noisy, but a bouncy attempt to teach iambic pentametre


Never got into this tapping thing at school…but this is one is pretty awesome. You would

certainly get it if you listened over and over again…de da de da etc.

Teaches partly through physically feeling the patterns.


This one is really a simplified way of understanding Shakespeare for year nine, but if you can be patient with the first bit, iambic is clearly outlined.

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