Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughts on Form (in the Large) or There are Many Ways to Make Music

I have been running from form for years. And metrics. I think because it feels like a box, I say don't put me in it! Don't tell me I have to pose a problem and then solve it. Don't tell me there should be 10 syllables in each of my lines. I might be a milquetoast, but on the page I'm a rebel. Don't fence me in (a little twangy guitar music here not really frantic enough for my emotional response!). Of course, I know that I'm unconsciously working the system in my free verse way. Using the broken pieces of form and meter and rhythm to make my own patterns and echoes. I've understood this, intellectually, ever since I took "Forms of Poetry" from Leonard Trawick who opened my eyes to the meaning and uses of measure and tradition and made me write a sonnet and a sestina.

All this is a long introduction to my present quandary. I'm putting together a book of prose poems. They are poems without line breaks but with stanzas.The book is divided into 4 sections (unnamed) with an introductory poem standing before and outside of section 1. (I believe the last advice I got floating in the creative writing ether was that dividing a book into sections was bad. But come to think of it, I can just resist this encomium as well as many others.) Can I place a lineated poem as my introductory poem? It is standing outside of the book sections. I think it might work in its subjects and references. It is perhaps a little different in tone, left over from the book before where the speaker is in a very jumbled universe with a jangly voice--think too much caffeine with a slab of betrayal a la mode.

It all comes down to the question "does it work"? Can its well-thought-out line breaks hold the door open to poems with lines like a gust of air or a gush of water sluicing out over the page with some pebbles and broken flowers and scraps of paper tumbled in. It has a great title--"Ready as Mayo."

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