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:
Short Prose by Gabriela Marie Milton
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!
Featured Image: Photo by Flora Westbrook from Pexels
What sets us apart
from other species
has little or nothing
to do with self-awareness
and everything to do
with parts of speech.
The birds outside
my window shun labels,
think only of eating,
mating, flight, of going
and arriving, of being.
The know nothing of birth,
do not fear death, for it
has a label they cannot
accept or understand.
It is left to our kind
to need to label, to define
every small and large thing
for we sense our existence
must rely on two things
a world of pronoun and noun.
Thank you for your entry, Lou: a wonderful poem and you’re exactly right. We get bogged down in definitions and lose the joy of simply being.
Excited by this! I will have to ‘word’ something up.
Please do 😊
Here is my entry an attempt at free verse:
The widow sat in twilight
She watched the sun descend
Alone awaiting darkness
She reflected on her life
Her husband long since gone
Her family far away
she shivered in the darkness
A tear rolled slowly
Down her withered wrinkled face
And so her vigil ended
For another lonely night
She crept home to her bedroom
Lay down and sought some rest
A sort of peace embraced
Her lonely tortured soul
And dreams merged with encroaching night
So sleep at last was hers
Haunting – thank you for your entry 🙏
I’VE GOT A PROBLEM
There’s too much going on
My little head just can’t cope
If it were bigger it might just manage
Either God didn’t make it big enough
Or we’ve made too much for it
Bad planning I say
See my problem?
I’m still in the Free Verse For Beginners’ class,
but the class costs
Can I include the last two lines in
my free verse poem ?
I’ll have to ask my teacher
See my problem?
free verse beginner
Haha, inspired! Thank you, Don 🙏
Here’s my submission, A poem about the clouds outside a hillside resort that we had visited on a holiday.
The Welcoming Clouds
They seemed to have come for a tete-e-tete.
New guests that we were
At their abode.
Outside the window
which they always show to their guests.
Dressed in their finest white,
I found them waiting patiently
outside the window
When I woke up from my sleep.
They seemed to have been waiting,
For me to wake up and see them
Drifting down from heavens
And embracing the crests of the green hills
Like an amorous lover.
Then in a moment of sheer delight,
Like a chirpy maiden’s giggle,
Reminding me of tinkling bells ringing
somewhere in the distant meadows,
The clouds let themselves fall
As gentle rain,
Thereafter to reside as droplets
Resting on window pane and
Nestling among the leafy boughs.
I could picture those magical clouds as I read this, thank you ☁️
I always love your invitation and education. Sometimes in poetry, I have no idea what is trying to be conveyed and i’m truly not a fan of it although it is often beautifully delivered in words.. There’s a bit of intrigue but i loose interest when that happens fast. Thanks for sharing.. Ingrid. ❤️ Cindy
I try to keep the message clear in my poems with the result that they’re not always very subtle but I like people to know what I’m talking about, I suppose I’m guided by emotion when I write. I hope that comes through! ❤️
It always comes through in your poetry which I love!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️👏👏👏👏👏 Cindy
Thanks Cindy, that’s the most important thing for me ❤️🙏❤️🌈
You’re so welcome!! Me too!!!
Enjoyed this post – you got me thinking!
I am so honored and flattered that you would include my site as an example of contemporary free-verse poetry. Thank you so, so much Ingrid. <3 <3 That is sweet of you.
Well you write so beautifully that it was easier for me to point people to your site than try to explain what free verse is 😅❤️
Ingrid, I am throwing my free verse hat into the ring with a post I published this morning.
New to your blog and totally love your challenge. I’ll see what I can come up with.
Great news 😊👍
A Loose Tally.
“I have the rent until Valentine’s.”
Something in the way you said this made me smile,
made me wonder if two months was a heartbeat or forever.
You sat with one leg beneath the other on the kitchen counter,
the moon on your unbuttoned wrist and the patient rain running
(oh, should I say like tears?) behind you in the skylight, and I began,
just quietly – so as not to unsettle anything – to make a loose tally
of the opening and closing of this front door and of the teabags in the jar,
of our sweet silences and, of your words, I made penciled treasures and promises.
👌 thank you for your entry 😊