Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Meanderings

Weekly post on a Monday?  I can only cross my fingers and hope that doesn't mysteriously make my Mondays implode into a knot of chaos.

I mentioned in my recap of the World Fantasy Convention that I wrote several poems while there.  Something about having my focus elsewhere freed up my subconscious to float into verse.

For me as a writer, 95-99% of the time, poetry has to be written to form - as opposed to free verse.  I am fascinated by the repeated line forms:  villanelle, pantoum, rondeau.  When I don't use a historical form, I typically invent a structure for myself.

Why do I enjoy writing form poetry?  For me, it's like a puzzle:  getting the language to speak within the restrictions and winding labyrinth of the form.  I often find that my best stories come from sending two unrelated ideas on collision course; in the case of poetry, the form is that second idea.  Of course, as a lover of music and lyrics, it's probably no coincidence that form poetry shares much resemblance with lyrics; in some cases, they're interchangeable.

I find free verse difficult because for me, the line(s) between free verse, prose poems and lyrical short fiction are blurry.  I'm not sure how to keep one from oozing into the next.  I would welcome suggestions from other writers who might be reading this!

That aside, poetry is something I can't force.  I can usually sit down and write on a story or novel unless totally exhausted, but for a poem, I need all the ingredients in place, some time to incubate beforehand, and the right mood.  Maybe it's just a matter of practice:  if I wrote more of it, I might hone the discipline to write poetry on command.

I'm also disappointed when markets state a distaste for form poetry.  True, the bad stuff is wince-worthy, but so is bad free verse (which can sound like normal sentences cut up at random) or bad flash fiction - or bad anything, for the matter of that.  The good stuff is a joy.  Is my poetry at that level yet?  I don't know, but I love playing with the pieces.

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