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9&60 Ways - Free Verse ("tennis without a net")

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Old 03-01-2009, 06:44 AM
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Default 9&60 Ways - Free Verse ("tennis without a net")


We have looked at several different forms already, so let's take a little break! This time, let's look at free verse. Free verse is difficult to define. It follows no specific meter or rhyme, but it must have some poetic elements in order to be more than prose with line breaks. One important element is cadence, which is when natural patterns recur. Free verse often repeats words, sentence patterns, and images.

Walt Whitman is famous for his free verse. Here's a sample from "In Midnight Sleep" (1900):

In midnight sleep, of many a face of anguish,
Of the look at first of the mortally wounded-- of that indescribable look;
Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide,
I dream, I dream, I dream.

See how he lets meter happen incidentally? Line 3 has some anapests (soft soft LOUD), but just as we fall into the pattern, he breaks it and switches to iambic. He uses repetition of phrases--"of [NOUN PHRASE]", and "I dream"--to good effect.

Allen Ginsberg's "CIA Dope Calypso" (1972) shows repetition of rhythmic patterns and specific words. Read it aloud to feel the way the words fall:

In nineteen hundred forty-nine
China was won by Mao Tse-tung
Chiang Kai Shek's army ran away
They were waiting there in Thailand yesterday
----
Supported by the CIA
Pushing junk down Thailand way

So go forth, and write something poetic and free from meter! Questions and comments about this topic go in this thread. Your work can be posted as a separate thread with "Free Verse" in the title.

----
The quote "tennis without a net" is from Robert Frost, who wasn't a big fan of free verse.

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Old 03-01-2009, 07:00 AM
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Walt Whitman is the man. I subscribe to the Walt Whitman Quaterly and I can pretty much channel Walt Whitman-like free verse upon command.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:23 AM
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Care to share?

It took me a little time to get used to Whitman. At first I wished he would be more precise--he was always saying things like "the mountains, oh the mountains of Virginia", and I wanted to know what made the mountains so special. But by then he was already on to "the rivers". Over time, I've come to take his poetry as a whole, not line by line. He's very good a building things up to a crescendo, though no individual images stand out. When I'm done, I'm left with an indeterminate feeling more than anything specific. It's an interesting style of poetry.
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:48 AM
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Hello!
well as it was said that no lesson gets expire so one can post anytime ... does it mean we need to post our stuff in this (or relative lesson thread) or create a new thread for that with a prefix mentioning what it is?
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:31 PM
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A new thread with the prefix should do fine.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by HoiLei View Post
A new thread with the prefix should do fine.
ok thankss ..... : )
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:49 PM
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A lot of people don't seem appreciate the difficulties of writing an aesthetically pleasing poem without meter, and the experiments into free verse tend to be just what you said they shouldn't be, that is, "prose with line breaks." That might be why Frost didn't like it. It's so incredibly easy to do, but so hard to do right.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:35 PM
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I would say we've moved on to "tennis without the ball, either".

Poetry as Air Tennis
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