Is poetry that’s free as free as all
That?  Surely it’s the poet who is free
Or not.  He makes the choice to make a sprawl
Of words (and punctuation?) dribblingly
Straight (straight?) along the right-hand margin, or
Elects to wander from that side to God
Knows where.  Then reeling like a rummed-up whore
The words or letters (only? maybe?) odd
In some arrangement (disarranged?) dribble
Below, blotched out with spaces here and there
Without sound reason—barring to scribble
Away in freedom, shapeless as despair.
_This wouldn’t all be such a messy crime
__If he chose—freely—steady beat and rhyme.



Phillip Whidden is an American living in England who has been published in America, England, Scotland (and elsewhere) in book form, online, and in journals.  

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5 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    Perhaps a hybrid poetry would suit,
    instead of letting free verse get the boot.
    Mix black and white,
    the classic and the new,
    kiss warring tribes adieu,
    let words speak out

    Thanks for your ‘wonky’ sonnet, Phillip. I enjoyed it. I hope you like my hybrid response.

    • Paul Freeman

      Just had my third read. Any wonkiness irons itself out after the awkward enjambment with ‘That?’. Very clever. I can see this is a poem I’ll be coming back to.

      Thanks again, Phillip.

  2. Daniel Kemper

    [Themselves] not free, but to [themselves] enthralled, the renouncers of structure are.

    But there is a way to keep the meter and rhyme and not exactly hybridize, but produce unique forms, like symphonies vs. chants…

    • Gail

      Every art starts with a self indulgent impulse. We accommodate ourselves to our fellows to find the friends we are willing to appreciate, and who will reciprocate. Classical forms support a generous urge to find many friends, when the artist possesses such an urge. Other methods do not exclude the possibility of a generous character in the artist, but it is more difficult to be certain it is present.


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