When it comes to Free Verse, it’s a lot easier to say what it isn’t than what it is. First and foremost, it is not a poetic form, as by definition it is not governed by formal rules of poetry. It is rather a style in which the poet is free to express her or his poetic ideas through a flow of words which have neither regular rhythm nor a fixed rhyming scheme. Free verse is certainly not a sonnet, nor a quatrain nor a ballad, all forms we have explored in previous challenges. This week’s challenge is to set yourself free from the perceived constraints of formal poetry.
The rise of Free Verse as a poetic style
Free verse began to emerge as a poetic style at the beginning of the 20th Century, when poets sought in all kinds of ways to free themselves from what they saw as the constraints of traditional poetic forms. Perhaps one of the main aims of free verse is to break the rules and experiment with poetic ideas, imagery and unusual structures, line breaks and metaphors.
Famous exponents of free verse in English include Walt Whitman, Alan Ginsberg, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, who mingled free verse with rhymed and metrical verse in his epic poem The Waste Land, from which comes the following quote:
‘He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.’
Which is exactly how I want you to feel as you take part in this challenge.
Contemporary examples of Free Verse
If you want to read some exceptional free verse poetry, I’m going to recommend two blogs which you may well already be familiar with:
Gabriela writes lush, sensuous poetry infused with unusual and haunting metaphors. Lucy writes dark poetry which examines the cycle of birth and death as if glimpsed from the dark side of the moon. My words can’t really do justice to either poet, so please do check out their work for yourself.
In terms of my own writing, though I do like to write more ‘traditional’ poetry, I also write poems which come close to free verse in that they have a more stream-of-consciousness style. The latest example from my archives is the poem Indigo Black is for ‘I’.
This week’s challenge is to write a free verse poem: simply that (unless you choose to make it complicated!) Set your mind free, let the words flow, and see what happens. Enjoy the challenge – may it liberate your creativity!
This week’s challenge will be judged by last week’s winner, the wonderful Liyona of Life and Times of a Quirky Character.
Ways to enter:
- Enter your poem in the comments below.
- Create a post featuring your poem and link back to this post.
- Enter via email at email@example.com.
- Enter via Twitter @Experimentsinfc.
- Enter via Instagram @experimentsinfiction.
Deadline for entries is 12 Midnight on Tuesday, 8th December. Results to be announced Wednesday, 9th December.
Good luck and enjoy the challenge!