View Full Version : Questions for the experts...

03-30-2006, 11:56 PM
When I write a poem, I tend to set "rules" for myself for that poem. Whether it is the form or meter I see and hear or a rhyme pattern that is strict or "off-kilter" I abide by that and don't stray from it (if I do, I don't consider it good work, or I hammer away at it until it conforms.) I'm quite certain these aren't actual rules and any given poem I would write would have it's own set, to be determined while writing.
I suppose these are set in my mind as the only way a particular piece can be written and it is part of the inspiration. Form comes with the idea for me.
I'm curious if other writers do this. So...

1)do you let the poem's theme dictate the form it takes?
2)do you create rules for yourself - if the first two lines seem to follow a pattern, rhythm, or rhyme do you make sure the rest of the piece follows that same pattern or do you let the work take shape and then go back and fix form, measure, etc?
3)how much of the "story" conveyed in the poem is a result of the form of it?
4)do you consider the form you have set out for a particular poem to be a)as important as theme b)supporting theme c)a side effect of theme d)an important mechanic that conveys theme d) doesn't matter because the poem's meaning is the same no matter the form it takes.

wow...that was a lot. Please don't feel oblilgated to answer each of those, I just threw them out for discussion on the topic. I am just curious how much theme dictates form, form dictates theme/feel, and how much (even in a "free form") we set rules for ourselves. Does form shape the poem or does the theme provide the essential form?



03-31-2006, 12:44 AM
Hmm, I think I am a part of the solid minority here. I'm not thinking architecture, nor lines, nor words. I'm just thinking meaning. Most times rhythms appear while I'm trying to explain my meaning. After that, I massage the poem--the overwhelming plan of my try is to nourish the seed of my meaning.

I need a smoke.

03-31-2006, 02:40 AM

These are very good questions and ones that every poet should have in mind with each poem he or she writes for they define craftsmanship in practical terms.

For myself, I would say that I always let the theme dictate the form a Poem wil take, at least in the sense that it is the starting point in deciding what my Intent/Purpose will be in approaching what I want to say, and how I want to say it. (Is it best expressed as Emotional Reflection, Intellectual Statement, or Dramatic Dialog/Monologue?)

I wouldn't say that I consciously create rules for how the form will evolve, although I do keep in mind the concepts of Unity and Cohesion in working towards a Conclusion that will tie all my thoughts and images together, into one whole.

The amount to which the form reflects the story depends pretty much on the poem's over-all Purpose because the form is the cheif means by which mood and flow can be controlled, and thus, help the poem maintain its unities.

The basic concepts of what make a good Poem remain the same regardless of the form that is used to express it. The FORM a Poem actually takes depends on the choices we make relative to our Purpose.

Thanks for calling attention to these concepts.


03-31-2006, 07:13 AM
thanks for the answers, gentlemen! I suppose I scared people away from the thread with either too many questions or a bad title (some not considering themselves experts). TRuly I was just looking for conversation/discussion on the topic.
Anyone with an opinion or that wants to share their views, habits, or rules is welcome to.