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"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen." --Leonardo da Vinci

Over the years, one of many things that pass in and out of style is the popularity of formal poetry. There are always those who choose to write using one of over five hundred (I'm not kidding!) poetic forms, so it never really disappears. Formal poetry waxes and wanes like all forms of art and is currently a less popular form of the craft. I will not attempt to entertain reasons for this but instead, present a few of my thoughts on the subject of poetry with meter and rhyme.

I write rather infrequently using either, and the reason is it is hard work. I spend an inordinate amount of time in an attempt to uncover the exact word I need, the flow I desire and the intrinsic mood of the poem that will convey to the reader the meaning or image I intend. Forcing this to a structured form without diluting or destroying the effect takes much more than I am willing or have time to give. There are so many more poems I have to set free!

Writing in form is excellent exercise to hone your poetic skills. Even a simple form (I said simple, not easy) like a haiku or limerick provides good practice as well as interesting diversion. Often I choose a sestina, sonnet, couplets or something exotic to force myself to stretch my boundaries. The majority of these efforts (mercifully!) never see further exposure and settle for being just exercise.

Some of the best examples of lyrical poetry are found in popular songs; the ones you remember words to and can't get out of your head. Think about why "great" poems from the past have maintained popularity, in many instances for centuries: rhyme and meter.

If you are interested, there are a plethora of books with poetic form as the subject, An excellent one, Handbook of Poetic Forms edited by Ron Padgett, comes to mind.

Try a formal approach for the fun of it. You may discover the challenge is just your cup of tea. Whatever your choice, keep writing.

"To write good poetry in form is hard, damn hard, and all too often turns out strained and terrible. But when it works, ah, there is magnificence." -- Jon

October 2017

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