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Free Verse – Spring 2008

Free Verse is an experimental poetry forum for poets that do not follow the normal tenets of form and structure, reveling instead in modern and post-modern tendencies to deconstruct the sentence or line and turn it on its head so that the meaning seems like a coded message scattered in the form of extreme line breaks or unconventional prose-like formations. Rhyme and meter are not ignored here entirely, they are just pushed aside for new and tantalizing artistic configurations that stray from structural traditions, if not always-topical ones.

Free Verse is an experimental poetry forum for poets that do not follow the normal tenets of form and structure, reveling instead in modern and post-modern tendencies to deconstruct the sentence or line and turn it on its head so that the meaning seems like a coded message scattered in the form of extreme line breaks or unconventional prose-like formations. Rhyme and meter are not ignored here entirely, they are just pushed aside for new and tantalizing artistic configurations that stray from structural traditions, if not always-topical ones.

In the poem “Augur of Wright” by Brent House, it is as if we are transported to medieval times amidst a fog of sorrow at remembrances of the past. “Such great loss & relative little evidence / dents in the hardwood / an overseer dead / dead in a let him save himself March / what so rose in December / only fragrant memory.” It is as if we are in a dream and our memories are bursting forth in a cloud of smoke. In “Whale Lament” by Endi Bogue Hartigan, there is a sense of joy and wonder at being a whale and living in the sea: “The happy whale says / let us stay happy. / We are rich with / will and oil.” Underneath this happiness, however, seems to be deep melancholy at what can be lost when purged of their riches, possibly by humankind.

In “Crowns” by Hugh Steinberg, crowns are employed as a metaphor for the secrets that we as human beings carry with us and for the leaders or people we follow who are wearing them in all their shimmering light: “And the smart ones, / the ones who / know what they’re doing, / they just / look that way, you / trust them, / join them / making soup out of / flowers, their tongues / on your tongue / so that bees / follow you.” This poem is a world of magic and wonder where whatever or whomever you come into contact with will lead you like a pied piper to your chosen destination. Anne Fitzgerald’s “Tuscany,” a more prose-like poem, is written with commas in on continuous tapestry of words, one phrase or word flowing into the other like a hill in a landscape painting:

No kids ride yellow burnt sienna horses, piazzas holds weather at bay stillness fills cumulus clouds with the ease of rain falling up lands in elsewhere arches where wisteria threads Corinthian pillars, masks stone faces, trace its grain as the pupil dilates, diminishes to a pin-prick in Florence without a pope like the shadow aspect of faded frescos

After reading this poem, you feel as if transported to a kind of mythological “Tuscany,” where things are constantly in motion.

The “free verse” is not just haphazard or arbitrary in its structure and the meanings it attempts to impart. Each word or phrase is placed prudently on the line, although it is you as the reader who will determine how it is read aloud and interpreted. The writing and placement of words are experimental but purposeful and rationally constructed so that even when it seems that you are in the dark, you will rapidly be brought into the light and you will be exposed to the endless fantasy, mystery and surprises that are found inside each, again and again.
[english.chass.ncsu.edu/freeverse/]

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