Poetry without form is like tennis without a net.
Free verse poetry is not, as many assume, poetry without rules. It is a measured and thoughtful crafting of an idea into lines, spaces, and breaks intentionally and willfully crafted to heighten and condense the power of the words into something that can only be called poetry–and with all due respect to Robert Frost, you can play tennis without a net if you are disciplined enough to create a net that only you and your reader can see and feel. Free verse poetry does free the poet from the “trappings” of convention, but it also should bind a true poet to an oath to seek the absolute truth of an individual poet’s vision of what is and what is not poetry.
Free verse is the current end–or perhaps a plateau–of what is considered poetry. It is the culmination of numerous paradigm shifts in poetic thought. As I write this, there is probably some punk kid sitting in the corner of a stuffy English classroom who is going to initiate the next shift or movement in poetry. Maybe you are that punk kid. Maybe you see the universe of words–and the possibilities of arranging those words in a different way. It’s what Whitman did with “Leaves of Grass;” it’s what Ginsburgh did with “Howl;” and there is nothing that says that come the next time it can’t be you.If you give damn. If you crawl out of whatever cocoon of ignorance you have decided to cloak yourself in.As much as anything, poetry is an action. I can call myself a poet because I have slogged through the mud of being a free verse (for the most part) poet. The more you read poetry and the more you write poetry, the less you will be able to resist its transformative power; but, the more you stay away from poetry and the less you write poetry the easier it will be for you live a diminished life. If you really want to know who I am, was, and dream, read my poems.
If you really want to know yourself, be a poet.
Be a punk. Don’t be afraid.