FORMS! OMG!!!



—Illustration by Sam the Snake Man
 
 
 
WHERE WERE WE?
Mulling with Medusa
[These are the opinions of the management;
if you want your own opinions, 
you'll have to make them up yourself.]




THE UGLY TRUTH:

Let's face it: if you write poems in forms and then submit them to most publishers, they'll get rejected. That's the ugly truth; form-writing is definitely out of favor these days. So why do them? Here are some of my mullings about writing in forms, and while we're at it, about writing to prompts/seeds/triggers—whatever you want to call those things:

Every poem you write is in a form, even if it's free verse. And every poem you write has a trigger: an image, a thought, a word. If I pull an image from inside my head, it's no different than receiving it as an "instruction" from a book or another poet or Medusa's Kitchen; I need to learn how to spin gold from that image. Who cares where it came from? Poets steal shamelessly and endlessly; it's a necessary skill for any artist. (Don't marry one.)

Some people complain that writing to forms or to prompts is like stuffing their poem into a girdle. But the truth is, every poem you write should go through some kind of similar "stuffing": some kind of ordering and paring down and organization, rather than just a free-write spilling of words onto the page without any later editing. Similarly with forms and rhyming: I need to pay attention to the rhythm and order and sounds of every poem I write, whether I'm trying to do a sonnet or an etheree or free verse—which really isn't, after all, all that free—if it is, in my opinion, it becomes too prose-y.

So join in the party and write your responses to prompts, whether they are images or forms or assignments or your grandmother's bustle. Wonderful poems come out of these exercises, which are, in my mind, like playing scales. And you can never get enough exercise, right?
 
 
 
—Public Domain Illustration
  
Check your Poetry Term Acumen here:  


 
These are just a smattering of resources that are out there to help you with this whole form thing, with some other good stuff thrown in besides (in no particular order.) Don't be shy about sending us other sites and books that you have found helpful!

 
 
•••Bob’s Byway: VERY extensive list of terms/great definitions! www.poeticbyway.com/glossary.html 
•••Famous Poetry Online: Lotsa stuff here; check it out: www.famousliteraryworks.com
•••Poetry Base/Poetry Gnosis: a chart of forms: www.poetrybase.info/forms/menu.shtml
•••Poets' Graves: Glossary of Poetic Terms: www.poetsgraves.co.uk/glossary_poetic_terms_b.htm 
•••Poetry Websites: BIG list of forms sites, and I mean BIG: www.writing.com/main/portfolio/item_id/1734664-Poetry-Websites
•••Writer's Web: University of Richmond Writing Center's "A List of Important Literary Terms": writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/terms.html
•••Rhymezone: www.rhymezone.com/. Find rhymes, synonyms, adjectives and more!
•••Shadow Poetry: www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/types.html
•••Poets' Collective: poetscollective.org/poetryforms/example-Index
•••Poets.org: articles about form, etc.: www.poets.org/poetsorg/collection/poetic-forms
•••Poetry Foundation: www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms?category=209 
•••Society of Classical Poets: classicalpoets.org/category/poetry-forms
•••Poetry at Adriadne's Web: forms, exercises, books, reviews of great books: www.baymoon.com/~ariadne
•••Poetry Meters: poemanalysis.com/poetic-meter
•••Kid's Poetry Club: www.kidspoetryclub.com/. Every Monday, meet Little Dazzy Donuts and the Club characters in a 15-minute podcast episode filled with rhymes and fun, as well as the chance to listen to kids reading their own poetry entries into regular competitions.  
 
 
 
—Public Domain Illustration
 
 
•••There are many print books, too, of course, including Lewis Turco's The New Book of Forms and The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, ed. by Ron Padgett. For information about Lewis Turco, go to:
    •••Biography: www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lewis-turco
    •••Purchase (be sure to get 2020 edition): www.amazon.com/Book-Forms-Handbook-Poetics-Fifth/dp/0826361889
 

 
MORE, and not just about form:
 
•••”What is Poetic Form?” by Emily Jarvis, a short description of how/why poetry is structured into forms (penandthepad.com/poetic-form-8726589.html). 
•••Also by Emily Jarvis: “Examples of Musical Devices in Poetry” (penandthepad.com/examples-musical-devices-poems-20170.html). 
•••Grammarly for grammar brush-ups. Here, for example, are thoughts about the metaphor, the back-bone of poetry: www.grammarly.com/blog/metaphor/.
•••The Sounds of Poetry by Robert Pinsky, about fine-tuning your ear, may be had at www.amazon.com/Sounds-Poetry-Brief-Guide/dp/0374526176/.
•••"Listening to Poetry" by Annie Finch, an article about sound at www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/03/listening-to-poetry/.
 
 

There are other resources scattered through these links (such as Roget's Int'l Thesaurus from HarperCollins, ed. by Barbara Ann Kipfer; Rbt. L. Chapman, Consulting Ed. ISBN 0-06-018575-9), so suss 'em out.
  
Here are a few poetry groups to look at; obviously I haven't included all the many others, such as state poetry societies. Such groups hold contests, conventions, journals, newsletters... all the things that groups do for themselves and each other. Cruise the 'Net and you'll find plenty.

  
GROUPS to get the juices flowing:
 
•••Society of Classical Poets: classicalpoets.org/category/poetry
•••Poetry Chaikhana: Sacred Poetry From Around the World: www.poetry-chaikhana.com  
•••Poets House: poetshouse.org/mission or see blog at poetshouse.org/blog/. PH continues to rebuild after 4/21 flooding. I hope our Rattlechaps Chapbooks are okay; during publications, we got a copy of each of them into there.





—Public Domain Illustration

What can I say? Forms are there to
seduce us, tease us, make us 
pull out our hair.
Deal with them—have fun with them—
but don't miss the opportunities 
they provide for you.
 
(This is my driver's license photo,
by the way...)