Bob McKenty wrote recently,
“My first encounter with ‘tailgaters’ was Richard Armour's Punctured Poems: Famous First and Infamous Second Lines, although he gave no name to the genre. It's available, used, through amazon.com. Bill (William Rossa) Cole did a book of them and called them, I believe incorrectly, ‘bouts rimes’ (BOO REE-may, French for ‘rhymed endings). He gave me a xeroxed copy, which I have misplaced. Tailgaters are the best cure for writer's block and excellent, I would think, for teaching rhyme. Here's one of mine for the collection: Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may, ‘Citizen Kane’ is on today.”
McKenty is spot on. I agree that "Tailgaters are the best cure for writer's block and excellent, I would think, for teaching rhyme." I am currently curing my own writer's block by posting six tailgaters by a particular poet almost every day on this blog. I did manage to get a definition of the form into the fourth edition of The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, which will be out next month, December 2011, from UPNE. Shakespeare's lines lend themselves particularly well to tailgating, I find. The first several of those that I wrote will appear soon in Joseph S. Salemi's periodical, Trinacria.
The daily half-dozen tailgaters I am posting I call "Gnomes." Rhina Espaillat asked what is the difference between a "gnome" and a "tailgater." I replied that the latter is a verse form and the former is simply an aphorism the definition of which, in my The Book of Literary Terms (UPNE also) reads, "The gnome is an apothegm or truism, sometimes in rhyming form." "Bouts-Rimes” is defined in The Book of Forms as “a French versewriting game played by various hands who write verses utilizing specific rhyme-words in a given form, usually that of the sonnet. For a similar form, see the renga chain." It is NOT the same as the "tailgater."
Six Shakespearean Gnomes
This was the noblest Roman of them all:
He had a stony heart and a lot of Gaul!
As flies to wanton boys are we to gods —
There are no gods? Then we are fortune’s toys.
After life’s fitful fever one sleeps well
Unless, of course, there’s such a place as Hell.
But this denoted a foregone conclusion:
Fall into a cellar hole…floorgone contusion!
When beggars die there are no comets seen,
Just meteorites, satellites and stuff in between.
The Big Bang
Nothing can come of nothing