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Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Well, howdy! I’ll bet you’re surprised to see me again. I can say that makes two of us! I’m jest here to let y’all know Kid ‘n Pal will be returning to their old Saddle Up Saloon shenanigans, but on each Friday.

Don’t tell, but I snuck on in here afore them to finish up what we started back in December of 2020. Once we get through this ‘un and a final post on May 6, Anyone Can Poem will be done and done.

(I hear tell a story-generating Cowsino will mosey on in, come the first of June.)

And so, welcome, one and all, to this month’s installment! I originally posted back in January and intended to continue the lesson from December.

Like any good sequel, I’ll do a quick montage of the first installment so we’re all caught up: freeversepoetryisabadideabutwe’regoingtodoitanywayandforstarterslet’ssplityourpoemusingpunctuationandspacingsoitreadshowyouwish.

Way back then, you shared your free verse poem with the sort of pausing you want it read with. Now it’s time to get more nitty-gritty. I want you to look at everywhere you’ve done a comma, semi-colon, period, line break, and new paragraph. Take each of those places, one at a time, and decide how you will permanently create the pause you wish.

Pauses can be forced with what we already have, a’course. They can also be made with looooong, slooooow words, laborious words, descriptive words, shocking words, and onomatopoeia. And sure-shootin’, you can keep a line break or comma if you wish.

If you take the poem snippet I used for an example, we start with
I saw a dove;
it alighted on my hand
and frittered there.

But I don’t want the final version to be split across three lines. Instead, I want
I saw a dove
It alighted on my hand and frittered there.

To be honest, frittered is more of a second-draft word. I came up with rested the first time I typed it up. Frittered is a good word since it ain’t usual ’round these parts and has several syllables. It’s also fun to say; fun to wonder how in tarnation a bird might fritter. To create the pause or s l o w i n g I need around the midpoint of that line, I will need different words besides on my hand and.

Let’s try
I saw a dove
It alighted atop a finger; it frittered there

Hmm. Not bad. But what ’bout
I saw a dove
Alighting on my finger, it frittered there

Get it? Good. Your assignment is to take the lovely poem you shared in December and close up the line breaks with intentional words, a semi-colon or two, or sounds. Lasso the words that will sing the pattern you want.

Fill out the form, below, if you want only me to see it. Fill out a comment if you’re willing to show off.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Next month, we’ll do a final polish of your free verse and, as I promised, a final farewell to Anyone Can Poem.

I can’t wait to see what you do!

—–

©2022 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Good ev’ning or mornin’! Welcome to our tenth month of poem-ing.

We’ve a rough ride this year -through loosening up, parody, forms, meter, and word choice.

Now, we’re facin’ the roughest bull ride this side o’ the Mississippi: free verse.

Writing freely, without a form, is like opting for bareback riding on an unbridled stallion. You really oughter not; and, if you’re that determined, you really oughter know what you’re doing.

But this is Anyone Can Poem! I’m not here to warn against such idiocy; I’m here to teach you how to look good doing it!

First, let’s make sure you’re registered for the right event. What is a free verse poem?

Free verse is an open form of poetry, which in its modern form arose through the French vers libre form. It does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any musical pattern.

Wikipedia

It’s different from blank verse, which is taking a metered form and intentionally not rhyming. Free verse is also different than mishmashmess verse*, where you write whatever you want to and how.

Most free verse arises from an emotionally-moving experience we feel compelled to express in a poem. We awake at midnight, remembering our first (lost) love. We taste the first warmth of springtime against our skin during a morning walk. We fall head-over-heels for another person. We savor the agony of heartbreak when he or she doesn’t reciprocate.

Then, we pull the floating snippets of emotions down to the page. We feel that the words must not rhyme or conform to a pattern in order to express what we felt.

That’s great! I’m here to step in about now; pause the stallion-riding, and offer up a few pointers of why you have the inexplicable feeling that you’re actually seated backwards and wearing a prom dress and heels.

It’s simply because your free verse poem tricked you. It told you it needed to be mishmashmess when, in fact, it still needs form. -Not a bridle, per se; but definitely an arena within which to ride, and definitely a movement to the animal on which you sit. See: a lost-love poem must read like a beating heart. A nature poem about walking through springtime must read like a walking gait. New love must use long, slow-moving words like thoughtfulness and consideration at the start but short, exciting words like heat and touch as our feelings heighten.

So, please take your free verse poem. Go on: take it.

Now, I want you to shape it exactly the way you want it to read by changing the formatting.

If you wrote I saw a dove it alighted on my hand and frittered there, do you really intend that as a run-on sentence? Or, do you read it as:
I saw a dove;
it alighted on my hand
and frittered there

Or, maybe you even read it as:
I saw
a dove.
it
alighted on
my hand and
frittered there.

Use commas, semi-colons, periods, and hyphens to create small pauses. Use line breaks and new paragraphs to create longer pauses and new thoughts.

Then, share what you’ve done via the submission form (where only I will see it and respond) or in the comments section below (where only everyone may see and respond).

Go ahead. It’s easier than you think. And, it’s the first step toward a free-verse poem you’ll love. I promise.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

*I made up the term mishmashmess verse. Don’t look for it.