Naturally, harmonious surroundings within a poem, brought through whatever mechanism employed, bring peace and contentment to the reader. When your poem denies the reader, it creates a powerful moment of doubt that can cause tension, capture inner turmoil, or bring levity to a poem.

Dissonance is a deliberate attempt to create awkwardness to disturb the reader. Dissonance will disrupt positive and harmonious flow through a poem, achieved through disruption in the harmonic sounds or rhythm of a verse. The word dissonance comes from the Latin word, dissonantem, which means ‘differ in sound’.

Dissonance relies on the organization of sound rather than on the unpleasantness of individual words. It can go beyond unharmonious sound where the poem’s attitude, theme, or imagery also becomes discordant. It is like cacophony and is the opposite of euphony.

Three ways to cause Dissonance:

  1. Layout of Sounds
    • Disrupt the natural and harmonious flow by using clashing vowels in your lines.
  2. Irregular Rhythm
    • Disrupt the flow of your verse by changing up the rhyme scheme.
  3. Use Harsh Sounding Words
    • Incorporate unusual or harsh sounding words

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