Monday, February 29, 2016


The ironical attraction of writing formalist poetry is the liberating constriction constantly challenging the poet to hit a mark, leap a hurdle or do a loo-de-loop.

Free verse has no set boundaries to define it, to impose rigorous limitations that provoke invention and engender surprise.  It is not even verse in the literal sense of coming, line by line, to a fixed place to turn.

The formalist poet writes in constant contention with the parameters of a defined form, a sonnet, say: counting syllables, keeping the iambic beat, or subtly, euphoniously varying it, aiming for a ninth-line turn of thought and, if Shakespearean, wrapping up the venture with a resounding couplet.