Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

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David Campbell
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Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by David Campbell » Sat May 07, 2016 11:51 am

The above question is undoubtedly being asked by some, so here are a couple of answers to think about.

Firstly, we tend to be ‘lazy’ with traditional poetry in that we devalue words by opting for second-best. For example, we will use a word because the stresses fit the metre or because it rhymes, not because it’s the best word available. Or we will add a word to a line simply because it makes the metre work. We compromise, allowing the metre and rhyme to dictate the effectiveness of what we’re writing. We all do it. Often. Check any prize-winning poem on the poetry page and you’ll find examples.

With free verse, however, we can choose the most appropriate word or phrase available and then decide how we want to lay it out on the page to best effect. (Heather refers to the enjoyment she finds in seeking out the best words, which is part of the “magic” that Sue describes.) If we’re using the ‘distilled’ approach to free verse (cutting back to the minimum), as is mainly happening here, then the focus is very much on making the most of the fewer words being used. This really concentrates the mind in terms of creating images and representing emotions, and forces us to think about each and every word and its placement. It’s hard, but it’s a valuable exercise because what we learn can inform and improve what we do in traditional verse.

Secondly, free verse encourages us to think outside the box, as Wendy has done with her ingenious ‘poem-within-a-poem’, and as Heather has done so well in structuring her poem about the way a piece of writing is born. That’s not to say that the same sort of thing couldn’t be done in traditional verse, but free verse is more likely to encourage experimentation. And, as I’ve said before in other threads, some of the free verse layout techniques could be carried over to traditional verse (even though they might cause apoplexy in some quarters). The use of spaces, for example. Or not necessarily breaking lines at the rhyme (as in Iceberg Rose, which I posted as homework back in January). There’s no reason why the physical layout of a poem on the page couldn’t be used as a technique in rhyming verse. As things stand, rhyming verse is often (but not always!) better suited to performance than free verse because the metre and rhyme make it easier to listen to and easier to understand. But on the page rhyming verse can be pretty boring, which is one reason it’s sometimes dismissed as doggerel. (After you’ve read 100 traditional poems as part of the judging process, all of them marching down the page in standard fashion, many of them four lines to a stanza and 14 syllables to a line, you hardly know what you’re reading!) With free verse, you’re constantly surprised. (Or baffled or annoyed, so I guess it’s a question of whether that’s worse than being bored.)

Others may disagree, but I’d argue that having a go at (and reading) some free verse sends you back to traditional verse with fresh eyes and a better understanding of how words can be put together to create an effect. Which opens up the challenge of writing better bush poetry.

Cheers
David

Heather

Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Heather » Sat May 07, 2016 12:21 pm

All true David. I can't count the number of times i have been writing and poem and had a really really good line and then couldn't find a rhyme to go with it. Rather than find a second class word, i have had to ditch the line altogether and substitue with another line and rhyme which is really annoying. I get very attached to some lines! I have seen poems that have won prizes and the rhymes have been forced and it makes me cringe.

I think there is a tendenancy to think it is easy to write free range poetry and that you can use any old word - but that doesn't work, you still have to think very carefully about the words and layout. I think it's scarier than trying to write rhyming poetry because you don't have strict guidelines. I wrote a poem a few months ago called This Chapter, and after trying the same rhyming pattern as Kelly's Corner, realised it was too hard - i was compromising because of rhymes. In the end i had only one rhyme every 3rd line and i think i could have missed the rhymes altogether and they wouldn't have been missed. I think that might be the next challenge. Homework time.

In the end it's all about a love of words and a challenge.

Heather :)

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Sat May 07, 2016 12:22 pm

Well said David and valid and if writing free verse a poet could actually use the words orange and purple at the end of a sentence? If they wanted to :roll:
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
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I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Neville Briggs » Sat May 07, 2016 1:49 pm

Well said David.

But does the alternative to the standard "bush ballad" have to be free verse.

I wonder sometimes why the bush poetry writers don't try their hand more often at things like, sonnets, rhyming sestinas, villanelles or pantoums etc. None of these things need be "free verse " but they do make opportunities to get the old brain box working on the best words in the best order, and these can easily relate to bush or folk themes if that's what we want.

Maureen !! why would anyone want to use the words orange or purple at the end of a sentence in a poem. :lol:
Neville
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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by mummsie » Sat May 07, 2016 3:22 pm

Well said David.
I think we all have the problem of not letting go of lines or verses Heather. I know I do. Often when I replace a line/word with another, I find myself trying to fit it in somehow.

Sue
the door is always open, the kettles always on, my shoulders here to cry on, i'll not judge who's right or wrong.

Heather

Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Heather » Sat May 07, 2016 3:54 pm

You save those lines and use them another day in another poem Sue. :) That's why Kelly's Corner started - i wanted to add a coaching bit to The Lion's View - but it took over and began a life of it's own!

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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Terry » Sat May 07, 2016 5:24 pm

Yes well said David,
But you make the point that traditional poetry can be boring, which is true. But some of what passes for free verse,
can not only be boring, but also incomprehensible - either that or I'm reading all the wrong books.

Someone (a very good poet) told me recently, that if you write 100 poems and are very good at it - 5 may turn out really quite good.
and I reckon that's about right. A lot maybe Ok but not really great. Even the great writers of the past had lot's of duds as well, so us lesser mortals needn't feel too bad about our humble efforts.

Terry

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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Sat May 07, 2016 7:44 pm

I've no idea Neville but you could use them if writing in rhyme because nothing did - so just perhaps a poet might want to lash out and include them...

RAINBOW WINGS ... Maureen Clifford © The ScribblyBark Poet

His breast feathers were bright orange
bleeding into a throat of brilliant blue
shadowed with purple
and he watched with intelligent red eyes
as others performed aerial gymnastics overhead ....
then unimpressed by their low level passes
and kaleidoscopic display
he daintly lowered his head
to the crimson blossom
with its dew drops of nectar,
and a questing red beak
supped.
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


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Neville Briggs
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Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Neville Briggs » Sat May 07, 2016 8:54 pm

:lol: I was only being silly, Maureen.

You seem to have got it in. :)
Neville
I think therefore I am

Heather

Re: Why bother with free verse on a bush poetry site?

Post by Heather » Sat May 07, 2016 9:11 pm

You should know better Neville! :lol:

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