Free Verse or Traditional Forms

This week in The Canyon Poets Zoom poetry reading, we wrote and shared pantoum poems. Pantoums are poems that are found Malayan literature. A pantoum is made up of four line stanzas where you repeat certain lines in the stanzas that follow. If you were writing one, lines 2 and 4 are repeated in the second stanza, lines 6 and 8 are repeated in the third stanza, and you would continue on until you complete your poem. Here's mine:


Muscle Memory


I tried to murder my father.

I held the shotgun within my fists.

I tried to decide to kill him.

Imagine the story in any newspaper.


I held the shotgun within my fists

And I shouted at him.

Imagine the story in any newspaper.

A young abused girl killed her father.


And I shouted at him

I am tired of what you do to me.

A young girl shot and killed her father.

What a different story that would have been.


For me, this was an interesting little exercise. For many in the group, it was not. They felt that poetry shouldn't be constrained. What are your thoughts? I think that even free verse has constraints. I also think there is always a place for form in a poet's repertoire.

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