Santa Monica, California, USA
Hi -- If you begin with the notion that poetry is meant to be read out loud "rhythm" in poetry is similar to, but not directly correlative to "rhythm" in music.
There is no single poetic "rhythm." Shakespeare's sonnets are highly rythmical and use an iambic pentameter line -- the beat. Marianne Moore creates "rhythm" which accentuates rhyme in varying line lengths. Whitman and Ginsberg create a highly structured "rhythm" without specific regard to formal rythmic schemes or rhyme. Vachel Lindsay, Swinburne, and Poe take the correlation of rhythm to music perhaps too far.
I encourage you to find your own rhythm, or poetic "voice" within a formal or less formal structure, it's all one can do, anyway. Put you poetry to your own sniff test. Read it out loud. If it flows, as a ballad or a jazz riff, you're on track. If it doesn't SOUND RIGHT, fix it until it does.
A sense of rythm can be cultivated. You can train your ear by dipping into the canon of English/American poetry. Read out loud and LISTEN -- this is not about fully understand or critiquing a poem, it is about listening for the inherent rythm.
And don't get caught up in the trap of formality, unless sonnets, sestina's, or vilanelles really are your thing.
[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (06-10-2007 12:19 AM).]