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Passions in Poetry

Free Grinch

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Grinch
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since 12-31-2005
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Whoville


0 posted 03-27-2009 03:44 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Ok first I should point out that Jen told me to post this in the Alley so any complaints then send them her way. If it should be somwhere else feel free to move it.

In a thread in the Workshop I was explaining that I was thinking of giving free verse a whirl as Iíve always avoided it due to my fear that the lack of structure, a scaffold if you will, left me the feeling that I had nothing to build on. I was asking for some pointers.

So:

A -  How do you write good free verse
B -   Can somebody teach me.
D -   Jen told me to post this here so remember to send her the complaints
C -  this should have gone before D please mentally rearrange.

moonbeam
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1 posted 03-27-2009 04:09 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

lol Grinch, it strikes me from that post that you already have all the qualifications necessary to write good FV: confusion and insecurity

Back later maybe with something halfway serious.

By which time Bob might have got here and save me from making an idiot of myself.

Dark Star
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Lost in your eyes


2 posted 03-27-2009 11:27 PM       View Profile for Dark Star   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dark Star

Good for you to write a free verse, but it doesn't lack structure, it has any poetic rule there is! ~ Give it a try!

serenity blaze
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3 posted 03-27-2009 11:34 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Even his questions
confuse me and confound
with memories of
"next moment please"
a finger's edge on a bookshelf
sniffing down the alphabet
in dewey's decimals
I count
begging for a slice o' pi
angled on the keep as I
finger up the tomes.


Juju
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since 12-29-2003
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In your dreams


4 posted 03-27-2009 11:34 PM       View Profile for Juju   Email Juju   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Juju's Home Page   View IP for Juju

I free verse all of the time.  The difference is in free verse you use structure to bring your message across.  Every structure and metaphor has meaning which enhances the poem.  these structures and metaphors are original and are to appear as if they aren't even there and almost easy.  

So basically anything goes as long as it ties in with the message and does not follow previous poetry structures.

I like it alot.  Lots of freedom. (; Don't make fun of us  to much though.



-Juju

-"So you found a girl
Who thinks really deep thoughts
What's so amazing about really deep thoughts " Silent all these Years, Tori Amos

[This message has been edited by Juju (03-28-2009 02:15 AM).]

Bob K
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5 posted 03-28-2009 04:20 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Grinch,

          A good place to start with this question may seem a bit silly or obvious to you, but as often as I've asked it or been asked it, I've always found it useful:

     Which modern free verse poets do you read?  

     And then, of course, which ones do you enjoy the most?  

     That is, I have trouble understanding why anybody would want to try free verse unless he or she found something interesting in it that spoke to them in a way that seemed unique and powerful.  By following up on that piece of interest is one way for trying to write free verse, or at least beginning to do so.

     One of the best descriptions about how to write free verse, or any poetry at all, for that matter, though metrics isn't really discussed is a longish poem by the late Kenneth Koch called "The Art of Poetry."  It's about fifteen pages long, and it's one of those things that I wished would just keep going on.  I don't know how familiar you are with Poetry Magazine out of Chicago, but the fact that they devoted if I remember correctly 18 pages to printing it would, if you knew the magazine, say something to you.  English taste in poetry is often somewhat different than American, but there seems a somewhat mutual liking for Linda Gregg and Galway Kinnell.  Plath and Hughs are both lovely.  A good look, though, at Ambit and Poetry Review will give a good selection of free verse folks on both sides, if you aren't familiar otherwise.

     If you have a greater familiarity than the minimal level I'm thinking about, then why not say who you like and what it is about them that you find most enjoyable.

     Simply giving somebody a blanket set of rules isn't as helpful usually as trying to approach things from where they have a bit of an interest in the first place.  A little reading ought to go along with the first writing, though, so you have some sense of what the things are that people are doing with their work.

     Just a few ideas, anyway, off the top of my head.

Bob Kaven
serenity blaze
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6 posted 03-28-2009 04:24 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Don't listen to him.

serenity blaze
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7 posted 03-28-2009 04:26 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I apologize, Bob.

k'really.



I am seriously sorry.

?
Grinch
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Whoville


8 posted 03-28-2009 09:07 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Sorry guys Iím still lost.

Juju,

You mention structure but to me structure is a consistent frame from which everything else hangs, I can understand the repetitive scaffold that meter gives to a formal poem. I can see structure in the way that rhyme schemes act to stitch a poem together but free verse doesnít seem to have the hooks I need to hang my words on.

Bob,

quote:
Simply giving somebody a blanket set of rules isn't as helpful usually as trying to approach things from where they have a bit of an interest in the first place.


Iíve a fair bit of interest in poetry, which hopefully will stand me in good stead and I believe Iím a quick learner, if I read a sonnet and the structure is explained I can generally knock out a fair facsimile of the sonnet form. With free verse though I tend to flounder, thereís little structure that I can see beyond a general recognition that what Iím reading is poetry. I can read Heaney until the cows come home but I canít write Heaney, I canít see how heís built it, thereís nothing  beyond the recognition that I like it and itís good.


Karen,

Show off!

Do you fancy giving me a few lessons?

Anyone?

What I want to do is start with a blank piece of paper and end up with a half presentable free verse poem, so where do I start?

Balladeer
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9 posted 03-28-2009 09:16 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I'm with you, grinch. This was a poem I wrote some time ago displaying my inability to understand or write good free verse...
.
.
He placed the page in front of me.
'Read it" he said.
The sentences were in the form
of geometrical shapes.
I read up one side of the square
across the top, down the other side
across the bottom
up the triangle
down the triangle
around the circle
trying to piece the words together.
The sentences curled up the spirals
disappearing at the turns
to reappear with words missing.

I lifted the page. The words
slid down the paper to land in a heap
at the bottom.
I held the page out
giving it the forty-niner shake
trying to get the words back in place
no gold.

'Never mind', he said.
'You just don't get it."

I looked again.
The words had become worms
leaving slimy tracks
as they made their way
over the blank white surface

and I knew he was right.
Midnitesun
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Gaia


10 posted 03-28-2009 09:18 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

My writings are mostly free verse, since I have difficulty adhering to highly structured formats. But I do enjoy writing occasional Tankas, Haikus and similar 'short' styles.
My style is generally 'spontaneous combustion writing'....sometimes with editing, sometimes just thoughts dripped onto a page without stops or regrets.
Maybe it's really just a laziness issue on my part? LOL.
chopsticks
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since 10-02-2007
Posts 870
The US,


11 posted 03-28-2009 09:19 AM       View Profile for chopsticks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for chopsticks

I think Mark Spitz could have been just about as good of a centerfielder for the New York  Yankees as he was a swimmer.

Bob K said it in his reply ~INTEREST~ I will add INCLINATION.

I think Balladeer , who writes great rhyme, could write great free verse if he was so inclined.

ď A - How do you write good free verse Ē ( Have the interest and practice, practice, practice )

ďB - Can somebody teach me.Ē ( Yes, probably Moonbeam )

Btw Balladeer, I thought ~ Read It ~ was OK.


moonbeam
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12 posted 03-28-2009 09:28 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Sorry Grinch, been a bit occupied today, and haven't got time to address it as I'd like to. But, I actually agree completely with Bob (again).  It's quite easy to teach someone from a set of plans how to build the structure of a beautiful Georgian mansion (ordered, precise and regular structure and fenestration), the difficulty is in the flair that's needed to finish and furnish it well.

A contemporary building is another matter, there's no pattern, no fixed formula for window dimensions; you listen to the land and the surroundings, think about scale and colour, shape and size.  Perhaps above all you are influenced, you can't help it.  That's why what Bob says is vital.  And you of all people should know about influence.  Some of your best work after all is patterned by the footsteps of the great Welshman.  Why don't you go out and find the equivalent of Him in FV.

Having said all that, I've sent you a couple of  links giving some pointers about what some people think FV is all about.

Later.

M

You are very sweet Chops but I have enough problems trying to write it myself
chopsticks
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13 posted 03-28-2009 09:42 AM       View Profile for chopsticks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for chopsticks

ďYou are very sweet Chops but I have enough problems trying to write it myself ď

Didnít say you would, I just said you probably could.

The difference between lighting and lighting bug.

What in the hell am I doing here in the alley

serenity blaze
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14 posted 03-28-2009 09:53 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Just talk to the page, lovie.

Really.

That's all y'gotta do.

(I think I burnt my tongue whilst I was slurping soup.)

Here.

touch it.

It might be dead.

(see? It's that easy and Mike hates it.)

*laughing*
moonbeam
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15 posted 03-28-2009 09:58 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Chops, because this thread is in the Alley?   And I am here, lol.

But I didn't mean I wouldn't, what I meant was I probably couldn't.  Like Karen intimates, I'm not sure that it's something that can be "taught".
Balladeer
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16 posted 03-28-2009 10:16 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I would never hate your tongue, Serenity!!!
chopsticks
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17 posted 03-28-2009 10:31 AM       View Profile for chopsticks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for chopsticks

  ď I'm not sure that it's something that can be "taught ".

Taught yes, perfected no.

Everything I know I learned from someone else , so if I write bad poetry, blame Balladeer.

I have never had an original thought ( Well not one I can talk about ), so as I accept this award, I would like to thank all my teachers.

Beamer, Iím glad to be here, I could be down South picking cotton .

Sorry Balladeer, but this is really not off subject.


moonbeam
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18 posted 03-28-2009 10:54 AM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Yes I see what you mean Chops.  I think self-taught comes into it here though - influence, imitation (which is how we all learn), much more so than the row of pupils all sitting down in front of Mr Balladeer in his schoolmaster's uniform. Too sexy
chopsticks
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19 posted 03-28-2009 11:06 AM       View Profile for chopsticks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for chopsticks

ď I think self-taught comes into it here though ď

Moonbeam, I could not agree with you anymore than that.

Like the man talking to Mark Twain said, ď Iím a self made man, thank God.Ē

Balladeer
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20 posted 03-28-2009 04:40 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Well, I certainly believe in natural ability. Thing is, though, there are millions of people with natural ability at something but, without work, it all goes to waste. There is nothing more common than wasted natural ability. Having ability is God-given, or just the way the brain is wired at birth. Perfecting it, or making something of it, however, takes work. There are also people with no natural ability at something and yet excel in it by pure hard work. It all depends on how bad you want something...

no more wisecracks about my teaching attire....knickers still have a certain flair, imo!
Bob K
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21 posted 03-28-2009 06:06 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     This is, for course, one of the problems with teaching free verse.  You make a serious suggestion, like folks saying who they're reading or making suggestions who to read from each other, and you get ignored right off the bat?  

     Right from the beginning free verse is a struggle against our own sense of grandiosity.  That whatever I do is the best, and that nobody is doing anything else.

     But other people are writing some wonderful free verse.  
Why not simply assume that you're wonderful too, and go out and look at some of the wonderful stuff that other people are writing, and try to understand some of the conversation that's going on in the free verse world today and what the various poems are contributing to that conversation.  Can anybody find the poem by Edward Field about the Seal Ooky?  It's pre '72.

     Has anybody seen the Poem by Jon Anderson called "The Secret of Poetry?"  Pretty wild but short piece of poetry there.  Huan Yi was mentioning Mark Strand; has anybody seen the Mark Strand anthology of Modern American Poetry, or there's and Anthology by Jack Meyers and some-body else of new poets of the 90's.  A lot of good poems in both anthologies.

     But the question is, who makes you see fireworks?

     And Mike, that poem of yours is still a good free verse poem, and you ought to send it out someplace.

Best, Bob K.  
Grinch
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22 posted 03-28-2009 07:43 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
You make a serious suggestion, like folks saying who they're reading or making suggestions who to read from each other, and you get ignored right off the bat?


Iím not quite sure where that one came from Bob.

I mentioned Iím reading Heaney, that I had a general and eclectic interest in most types and forms of poetry and believe it or not I actually researched all the names you supplied. I canít help myself I see a new poetís name and have to go see. In fact the other night I did the same when I read Huanís thread regarding Mark Stroud, I read a potted biography online and several of his poems -  one, Courtship I think it was called, I found to be very good, some of the others seemed a little pedestrian. Probably just not my taste.

Just to complete the picture Iíve come across Koch before and Plath and Hughes are standard reading material for anyone interested in poetry so IĎve read, and own copies, of most of their poems. Linda Gregg was new to me - she had a feel of Auden (stop all the clocks) and Dylan Thomas in one of the poems I read, canít think of the name of it off the top of my head. I liked that one.

I could list the poets Iíve read but as Iíve pointed out it hasnít really helped, I can copy them, change the metaphors and subjects but it still seems that Iím not creating anything other than a facsimile. Taking Moons analogy I need someone to explain the method of construction so I can go out and build something of my own.

Surely someone has some pointers

(Btw bob that poem of Linda Greggís was The Resurrection, Iíd saved a copy to compare it with Auden and Thomas to work out what sparked my feeling of familiarity.)

.
Bob K
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23 posted 03-28-2009 08:40 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Grinch,

           Sorry Grinch if I came across as testy.

            Here's what I suggest as a way of getting started, then.  Go find some some exercises by Jim Simmerman.  He has one  that suggests 20 short poetry projects.  If you can find his directly, that would be best.  

     What he's done is to go through a lot of poems and taken out specific manoevers that he's enjoyed.  If you have a look at his list, there's really no reason why you can't put your own list together as well.  I'd suggest you start with his, because he's got more experience than you do with this sort of stuff, and the moves that he's chosen are very concrete and quite particular.  Run through the exercises without trying to necessarily make the twenty projects ( one or two lines each is all that you need) connect.  When you've got them done, look them over and look for the connections that are there between them, even though you haven't attempted top put them there.  They're connected because you wrote them and because they're your themes.  Now put them together making sure that you allow a little bit of a space for both you and the reader to have a bit of a jump between one and the next into a working poem.

     When you write the lines, read them aloud and use your breath to measure out the length of each line.  Start out with one breath equals one line.  Later on you may want to experiment with other measures, but this is a good one to start with.

     Simmerman makes a point of saying that you should use each of the senses in your lines as a way of describing or talking about something.  It's a good idea even in metrical verse.  Imagery is not only visual, and everybody is not primarily a visual person.  Make sure you get in as many verbs with concrete references to the senses as you can.

     This way, you can pay attention to the form of what your writing in the same way that you can pay attention to the form of a sonnet, but the form you choose is more open and variable.  Free verse doesn't mean formless verse.

    Anyway, you wanted something more specific.  I'm skipping ahead a bit for you.  What are some of the things that Heaney (not really free verse now, is he?) or the other guys do that you admire?  I'd been hoping to have you build up a list of your own stuff from scratch rather than offering you Simmerman's excellent list.  Your own list would be more empowering, since you'd get more of a sense of where lists and choices like this come from, and how they're rooted in your reading and in the poetic conversation.  Maybe after you've seen Simmerman's list, you could add a few of your own faves from your own reading.  I like starting out, for example, with syllabics and then revising away from them at times.  Dick Hugo liked to try to rhyme within perhaps five or six syllables of a word.  If you look at Keats, you can see that he spent a lot of time playing with vowels to keep things moving and to keep his associations primed, though of course, he wasn't free verse.  Denis Johnson once tossed in a fairly modern invocation to the Gods in an everyday free verse poem.  I don't believe it's been published, but the line was ó "Dear Boss of The Angels, Dear Mr. President..."  I don't know if you like that one or not, but I'm still envious after almost 40 years.  Still tickled as well, tickled as the first time I heard it.

     I don't know if this is at all useful for you, or for anybody else, but I'm hoping it might offer something of use.  I'd love to see what you or anybody else comes up with, by the way.

All my best, Bob Kaven
Grinch
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Whoville


24 posted 03-28-2009 08:49 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

http://mypage.siu.edu/puglove/twenty.htm

Thanks Bob will do

.
 
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