Author Connection 4

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” ~Carl Sandburg

What is free verse poetry?  The Poet’s Cookbook says free verse does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern.[i] In fact, most slam or spoken word poetry from the past thirty or more years is free verse. Many poems composed in free verse tend to follow the rhythm of natural speech. Although free verse requires no meter, rhyme, or other traditional poetic techniques, a poet can still use them to create some sense of structure. A poet knows when to use certain phrases and comma to create rhythm and structure. The exact definition is written by the poet although T. S. Eliot wrote, “No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job”

Free verse poetry has become the favored form for new and experienced poets alike. Free verse may be written as very beautiful prose; prose may be written as very beautiful free verse. If you consider the Bible, there are passages written that flow naturally with a poetic cadence and no visible sign of structure which indicates to me that free verse has existed longer than we’ve realized.

I feel free verse provides me a sense of freedom to create without the confines found in traditional poetry. I frequently write free verse although my goal this year is to master sonnets and villanelles because every artist needs to continually improve their skill set. Robert Frost remarked that writing free verse was like “playing tennis without a net.” The thrill of no net appeals to most free spirits. Whereas William Carlos Williams states “poetry is art form, and therefore verse cannot be free in the sense of having no limitations or guiding principles” I think poets like Charles Bukowski, Walt Whitman, and Ezra Pound, who were masters at free verse poetry and would disagree with Mr. Williams. Many poets today still disagree on the value of having structure versus having no structure. Although we can all agree with Maya Angelou statement “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes a human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

I’ve chosen four selections of free verse that I enjoy and one of my own so you can see how the different poets approached free verse.

Finish and Cause and Effect are written by Charles Bukowski [ii]


We are like roses that have never bothered to

bloom when we should have bloomed and

it is as if

the sun has become disgusted with


Cause And Effect

the best often die by their own hand

just to get away,

and those left behind

can never quite understand

why anybody

would ever want to

get away



O Captain My Captain by Walt Whitman [iii]

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for

you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores


For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

Tame Cat by Ezra Pound [iv]

It rests me to be among beautiful women

Why should one always lie about such matters?

I repeat:

It rests me to converse with beautiful women

Even though we talk nothing but nonsense,

The purring of the invisible antennaeIs

both stimulating and delightful.

Our Eyes Meet by Lyn Crain [i]
The warm, afternoon sun trickles through the tree branches.
As I amble along the worn trodden path
our eyes meet, when I look her way.
I ask if I may join her, she nods yes.
Taken off guard as a rush of heat rises to my face
by this beautiful, enchanting woman before me.
Her short shiny blonde hair against her golden skin-
sparkling blue eyes with an irresistible smile.
Her curvaceous body dressed provocatively-
a blithe smile slowly widens as we converse.
I am curious what made her cheeks suddenly flush,
and her azure eyes darken and smolder.
The minx suggestively teases me as
her tongue slowly slips across her pink lips.
I sense there is a passionate woman hiding within.
Her beautiful blue eyes twinkle with mischief reveal
a more intimate side in her nature.
Her mysterious aura enthralls and seduces me
breaking down every barrier, melting my soul.
Her lascivious laughter lifts my troubled spirit and
captivates my heart with her bubbly carefree nature.
I smile as I gaze once more into her sparkling eyes.
My breath suddenly ragged with desire.
Her gentle touch setting my blood aflame.
As we stroll along the now dew covered path
fingers intertwined, not a word spoken.
The sensual magic of a new love unfolding
as our eyes lock once more…

[i] The Poet’s Cookbook by Dan Gilbert




[v]  Our Eyes Meet was written for Victor Crain, my best friend, my husband.


I love his poetry. I’m particularly fond of Macavity, The Mysterious Cat. We named our youngest tabby cat Macavity because like Eliot’s cat in the poem whenever things happen he is nowhere to be seen.This beauty with the golden eyes is our baby.img_2115-2

I adore Eliot’s writing. His grasp of poetry and it’s purpose in society is sheer brilliance. I’ve chosen a few quotes that define poetry’s role for a poet like me.

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”
My own poetry frequently is an escape from the person I am inside. Years and years of being one person to survive and another that loves creative expression and the musical flow of language but had to keep it secret writing gave me to a way to put all the jumbled emotions into perspective.

Author Connection Series 2

How can we keep poetry alive?

W.S. Merwin says,” Poetry reconnects us to the world.”

Poets are not published by the big publishing houses like they once were. It is harder than ever to break into the publishing arena.

We really are a small community and the more we support each other in our art the more we can promote poetry.

“Separate we come, and separate we go, and this be it known, is all that we know.”
~ Conrad Aiken.

I disagree because I believe together we can find a common ground. Reading one’s poetry helps writers fine tune their skills.  It also helps writers working in other genres develop their narrative and imagery.

It can be hard to step outside our little box of words but collaborating with other writers sparks new ideas. The rewards of working together go far beyond reaching new audiences because it challenges the author to approach their medium differently.

“Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”
~ Charles Bukowski

However, the search for genius can involve a group effort.  Think of the Algonquin Table or Hemingway’s drinking with his buddies.  These discussions weren’t accidents but provided value to those who participated.  That’s why they kept happening.

Look at a poem for a minute and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it free verse?
  2. Is it structured in a specific form?
  3. Is there a specific pattern?
  4. Rhyme or non-rhyming?
  5. Is there a music of repeating sounds?
  6. Do the stanza breaks feel natural? Can you sense the energy of the poem?
  7. Is there a natural cadence when you read?
  8. When do the subject matter and the narrative arc?
  9. What part of the poem appealed to you most?
  10. What discoveries did you make in the text?
  11. Did the author rely on strong nouns and verbs or did they use adjectives and adverbs to create imagery?
  12. Did the title and the verse connect for you?
  13. Consider the different pauses when you read it out loud? Is it the same if someone else reads the same work out loud? Is there a crescendos, accents, or flexibility in the pauses?
  14. Is there an emotional tone of the poem? A shiver affect?
  15. What kind of insights or information could be revealed if a different speaker? Would it serve the poem better?
  16. Are there cliques? Words that jump out at you from other poems?
  17. How does this poem contribute to the overall conversation in the poetry world?

As writers, we need to develop our art to reach its full potential in this ever-changing world.


“For when ideas flutter in haze, we collaborate without notice and collect them as butterflies only to set them free into the world.”
Shawn Lukas