Writing Free Verse

There is no uniform definition of poetry. True, there are traditional poetic forms (ballad, haiku, limerick, quatrain, sonnet, villanelle, etc.) which must be respected. But, in general, if you say a bit of your writing is a poem, it is!

Hopefully, without upsetting some friends in academia or others who are authors of some excellent modern poetry, here are four steps to easily write a modern poem in free verse…no meter or rhymes to get in your way.

1. Write one or more paragraphs of text expressing your feeling, an idea, a concern, or anything of interest to you. An example:

The day awakened, the dawn’s pink growing on the billowing white clouds. A day of promise and a tiny daisy bowed it’s head in welcome.

2. Now copy your paragraph leaving out capitalization and punctuation.

the day awakened dawn’s pink growing on billowing white clouds a day of promise and a tiny daisy bowed it’s head in welcome

3. Then break the resulting text into uneven lines at carefully selected break points to enhance your thoughts. As the poet, you have license to add, delete, or alter words (or even introduce empty lines) as needed to best express and reinforce your concept.

the day awakened
dawn’s pink
growing
on billowing white clouds

a day of promise
as a tiny daisy
bowed it’s head
in welcome

4. Finally, celebrate your success, maybe by lifting a cup of tea or a glass of wine in tribute to Walt Whitman, the acclaimed father of free verse!

You are a poet!