1. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Designing a Poem's Form

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JavaMan, Mar 8, 2009.

    It has been my beleif for a long time now that a poem must be a complete system of thought - much like how a sentance is a complete thought. However, the idea of the appropriate form for the subject and style of language is something that I cannot resolve.

    In an analytical sense (or otherwise, if you prefer), how do you determine the meter, rythem, the use of symbolism, or generally the form in whole of a poem? do you think, for example, that there are appropiate forms and/or devices for a particular subject or style? How would you define "open" or "closed" forms?
    :confused::confused::confused:
     
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  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To start with, poetry is not a form of writing I often lean towards. But when I do, I usually begin with an image or mataphor I want to convey.

    After I lay down a few lines based on that image, I get an intuition of the rhythm I am homing in on, and adjust the lines I have to fit it. If I like the result, I'll expand based on that rhythm. If I decide to use rhyming, I'll generally decide on the rhyming pattern at that time, which then sets the base structure of verses.

    As the poem grows, I'll decide on where to adjust or syncopate the rhythm, for interest or for emphasis.

    When the poem is roughed out that way, I'll start tweaking words for more precise meaning, or for rhythmic or tonal effects such as alliteration. I spend a lot more time adjusting the wording than I do in the initial construction.

    However, I also have an affinity toward Haiku. in which case the structure is largely predetermined. But I will spend hours trying to get the imagery and the precise wording I want.

    Writing fiction is much less exhausting!
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm a full time poet and as i suspect is true for most seasoned poets, my works choose their own form, as i begin to write them...

    of course there are standard forms, such as sonnets, haiku, and such... but i don't believe in restricting myself or my work by following any of the rigid 'traditional' types of poetry, preferring to let each piece 'form itself'...

    go to my site and browse the 'philosetry' section of 'writings' and you'll see that there's not a single traditionally formatted poem among the hundreds there... and you'll get an idea of how many ways there are to present an idea/opinion/emotion in poetic form...

    i wouldn't, as i abhor jargon and don't deal with it unless i have to... plus, i don't know what you mean by the terms...

    if you want help with your work, just drop me a line any time, as i mentor many aspiring poets...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A poem needn't be anything. That is one of its beauties. Form, like meter, is at the poet's discretion. If he chooses to embrace it then he should be aware that prescribed form is often restrictive, despite deviations being very valid. When it's achieved however its impact is often great. If one chooses a free-form (free verse or stichic form) then the poet should be aware that most if not all free-form poetry contains elements of metre / rhythm by the very nature of language. Every day speech is rhythmical, and as such cacophonous poetry usually rings awkward. As such free-form poetry is often best approached as merely a looser form of metrical poetry. However, as the medium is so subjective and open to experiment then none of this need be true. Everything depends on the skill of the poet, if he has a natural ear for these things then he need never know anything about prescribed metre and form to achieve greatness, though I concede it is more unlikely.

    The aspiring poet is better charged with simply experimenting and writing than he is worrying about metre, form, terminology or device. Choose a subject with which you are comfortable to try and achieve credibility and ease the task in hand. 'Appropriate' forms per theme do exist, but the most talented poets know that every 'rule' is open to learned deformation for effect. I believe effect is crucial to writing poetry as each element used should be for a reason. Conversely, the wise poet will only avoid certain traits as exemplorary punctuation for effect. Only an unwise poet would dismiss tradition purely out of rebelious spite.

    By all means study the elements of poetry but only practice makes perfect. If it makes you confused, chances are you have forgotten that poetry is an art and usually art is made to be appreciated ahead of being made to be dissected and studied. If you achieve personal satisfaction from your work then you are onto a winner, if a certain prescribed notion isn't for you, move on. Poetry forgives everything except blinkered complacency. Happy composing.
     
  5. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Forgive me, Gannon, but I think that this is where we may be at odds with each other. For argument's sake, I once read in a college level textbook something along the lines that a poet must accept full responsibility in defining what a poem is. Perhaps we define the word (and the act of writing it) differently.

    Form, or meter need not nessicarily be restrictive. IMHO, that is exactly the reason for defining as an art. However, there still are rules to the game.

    I feel intutitively on a deep level a poem is a sort of refined and condensed literal version of.... I cannot think of the proper word - Beauty, perhaps.... and in that sense certain (deterministic the right word?) laws must be followed in order to appeal to the right audience who will love the form of beauty that is being described.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    poetry is the most 'refined' form of the writing arts... 'refined' in the sense that it distills language down to its purest essence...

    unlike prose, where one has the freedom to be as verbose as one wishes, the poet must put across a concept or an emotion or an image in as few words as possible, while using them to make the maximum impact on the reader/listener...

    thus, form and meter are all-important, whether one chooses a traditional format, or designs one's own... good poetry will fall pleasantly on the ear, no matter what form it takes...
     
  7. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    Mine fall out of my head in the form they wish to be in. It seems to work, as over forty of mine have been published over the years. I haven't studied poetry since I was at school thirty six years ago and I would not consider studying form now. I started out on limericks as the form is easy and entertaining for a wide readership. Nearly all of my work is aimed at an audience which would not include many fans of poetry, as such, rather like Pam Ayres' work which is still highly popular.
     

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