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Mary Oliver on Free Verse

Now that the writing contest is over and Fall is upon us (or we’re smack in the middle of it, whichever makes more sense), I am hitting the computer for work on my poetry manuscript and my memoir and won’t be spending as much time blogging.

Since I’ve been working with my poetry manuscript, I’ve been thinking a lot about poetry, and I like what Mary Oliver says about “free verse” in A Poetry Handbook:

Free verse is not, of course, free. It is free from formal metrical design, but it certainly isn’t free from some kind of design. Is poetry language that is spontaneous, impulsive? Yes, it is. Is it also language that is composed, considered, appropriate, and effective, though you read the poem a hundred times? Yes, it is. And this is as true of free verse as it is of metrical verse.

Merely hacking sentences into short lines because they look pretty and allow the reader to consider the words more carefully isn’t creating “composed, considered” free verse.

Deciding how to break up lines in poetry is the most difficult part.

For all of us buckling down to writing this fall:

Get to work and have fun!!

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