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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Freeverse Poetry

   
Author Topic: Freeverse Poetry
Raymond Arnold
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I've found myself writing what turns out to be a lengthy free-verse poem. (I started the piece without knowing what form it'd take)

A thousand words in, the thing feels bloated. Each section is decent but I think I need to cull it down. And it occurs to me that this may be a good time to... actually study freeverse poetry in some official capacity.

Poked around online but haven't found either good examples of the sort of poem I'm trying to write, nor writing advice specific enough to help. Does anyone have particular good examples of either to recommend?

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TomDavidson
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There are no good examples of long free verse.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
(Should have been) Originally posted by TomDavidson:
There are no good examples of free verse.

Fixed that for you.

(Sorry Raymond, But if it's any consolation, I'm sure it's got a lot of merit and could be made into good prose.)

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Raymond Arnold
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Lol. That bodes poorly.

I began without being sure how long it'd be, or whether I wanted it to be a story, song or poem. Ended up gravitating towards poetry, if for no other reason than making easier to switch to either of the other two.

I know there HAVE been freeverse poems I thought were genuinely good. My current leaning is to break up the obnoxious length with pictures and have it be something akin to Shell Silverstine / Doctor Seuss. Albeit less funny.

It may end up falling into the category of 'bad idea but hopefully good learning experience'

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The Rabbit
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Ignore Tom and Dan and read Walt Whitman's "Leave's of Grass".
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Raymond Arnold
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Thanks.
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TomDavidson
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In all seriousness, the Beats -- especially Gary Snyder and Ginsberg -- are worth a look, too.
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The Rabbit
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I really like Billy Collins freeverse as well.
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Brettly10
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Poets.org actually has some good information on free verse poetry, RA. And, it's pretty easy to search for a starting place.
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Raymond Arnold
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Thanks, all.
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deerpark27
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There are reams of excellent long free verse poetry.

It's hard to know what to recommend since I don't know what you're trying to accomplish. Reading through any of the poems referenced is a long work in itself.

Others have mentioned Whitman and the Beats, to that list you could add Ezra Pound's "Cantos", W.C. Williams' "Paterson", and C. Olson's "Maximus Poems" (although each is using idiosyncratic organizing principles that may be even more constraining than end rhyme or dactylic hexameter!) and, depending on your school of thought concerning the 'free' aspect of free verse, much of T.S. Eliot's long poetry (e.g. "Four Quartets").

I think that one of the best modern works of poetry is David Jones' "In Parenthesis". This is a "free verse" treatment of his experience of WW1.

James Merrill wrote a multivolume work called (I think) "The Changing Light at Sandover" which is playful (it concerns his purportedly actual use of a Ouija board to conjure a series of famous poet-spirits to his country house in Connecticut).

The Canadian author Michael Ondaanjte (sp?), before he became a famous novelist, wrote two wonderful long poems called "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" followed by "Coming Through Slaughter". They are like pseudo-autobiographies of Billy the Kid and the jazz musician Buddy Bolden. They also involve the use of photographs and other multimedia supports...

If you are "gravitating" and you do mention "Dr. Zeuss" (who, as I'm sure you know, is often highly structured), you might consider the practicalities of developing your own nonce stanza form. This might help organize the material (both for yourself and your reader)-- while allowing some of the centripetal energy (dissipative?) we associate with the freedoms of free verse to remain.

There are a number of examples of this latter sort of compromise (if it even is one): John Berryman comes to mind (the "Dream Songs" sequence).

I just thought of Zukovsky's "A" too. It even has a musical score for four voices making up an entire book of the the sequence.

One of the ironies is that there's nothing 'free' about "free verse". Something needs to organize the work and you've got to figure it out.

Otherwise,
all you get is stupid
lines that turn
for no reason, typically followed by a few longish lines suggestive of nothing,
a longish line that tries and tries to echo your witlessness

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Raymond Arnold
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(Deerpark, please take it as the highest of compliments that I am amused by you showing in the poetry thread with extremely clear and well thought out instructions on how to do poetry. Thanks!)

I started just by writing stuff down in a semi-prosaic fashion, to get the ideas out. Then I started reworking it to apply some kind of structure. Several sections are currently similar to the "poem" at the end of your post, and need to be reworked. It's gradually acquiring some kind of structure but I'm not sure what I'm going for. (Some sections of it have fairly traditional structures, but the whole thing didn't lend itself to one consistent structure)

After the whole piece has gotten at least to a second pass (i.e. I've at least *tried* to give it structure, as opposed to the original "get it all out there" technique), I'll post it here and hopefully you'll have some more specific advice.

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Dan_Frank
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Woah, I think this is the first time I've ever seen Deerpark write a regular post! [Eek!]
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advice for robots
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2nd time, in my recollection.
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