Opinion ~ Form Poetry vs Free Verse Poetry

by Marion

Simply put, form poetry is poetry that has been shaped into some sort of pattern. It could be the rhymes and their system of repetition, it could be the number of syllables in the poem. A few well known form poem styles are: villanelle; sonnet; rondeau; sestina; rondel and the acrostic.

Personally, I have a limited range of form poetry styles that I enjoy. My favourites are cinquain and most forms of Japanese poetry, such as haiku, shadorma and tanka to name a few. For me the beauty of those forms is to convey as much imagery as possible in a restricted number of syllables and lines.

Form poetry that I struggle to write is almost anything with meter and rhyming schemes. For some reason, the minute I see all those aba bcb cdc’s my brain reverts to foetal development stage.

Much form poetry can prove to be too complex for fledgling poets to master resulting in them giving up on their poetry endeavours before they have discovered the flexibility of writing free verse poetry.

The beauty of free verse is not that it doesn’t have rules, as many people believe. The beauty is that the poet makes up those rules for each and every poem. With free verse there is no pattern until the poet creates one. Free verse is not prose and prose should not be considered to be free verse. When it is well written, free verse will have a rhythm to it. Even it there is no dum-dee-dum-dee-dum type beat to it, there could be patterns of sound and repetition and the poet decides where to create stanzas and line breaks in order to achieve the rhythm.

Form or Free Verse?

Whatever the style, poetry remains poetry.


2 thoughts on “Opinion ~ Form Poetry vs Free Verse Poetry

  1. I do mostly free verse, much of the time resembling hip-hop lyrics:


    and other times a little more structured into something a bit more measurable (abab etc):


    …and just recently, I have been learning about form poetry, and decided to give some of them a try, just to learn more about the poetry culture. This is my first Pantoum:


    The form ones take much more mental work, where the free verse is so natural it is like breathing for me.

  2. …form exists to give freedom to intentions, to give focus to subject, to give structure to rhythm…free verse is actually form as it it exists in intuition…intuitive form, especially that culled from experience, is the gift of free verse, where even focus can be expanded by an approach that is learned by living the words first, then writing the experience in the next moment…like all forms of writing, it will meet readers where they are at…where they want to be when they read…the more diverse your knowledge of poetics in any form the diverse your capability of expressing yourself to yourself, first, and then, hopefully, to a reader second who can be met where your form and content collide…if it doesn’t meet them there, they will not bother reading it…if it meets them there, they will read it more than once and it will have a meaning to them that will be their own…


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