Play With Your Words Poetry Prompt #7: Free Verse

I just submitted a handful of poems about my mom to Chicken Soup for the Soul, many of them written in free verse form. I love writing in free verse. I love the freedom to use line breaks and spacing to emphasize words and ideas, and to literally shape the poem on the page.

Free Verse poems have no established rhyme or rhythm pattern, and no set stanza or line length. They rely on figurative language, repetition, sound effects of poetry, line breaks, and spacing in crafting the poetic form.

And like all poetry, free verse poems reflect highly concentrated writing.

So, how do you write free verse poetry? As with any writing, I’d recommend a few moments of pre-writing, be it on paper or in your head. Think about what you wish to write about. Collect words and phrases that express you thoughts and feelings.

When writing, keep these tips in mind.

Use sound for poetic effect:

  • Assonance: use identical vowel sounds in groups of words. For example, the long “o” sound in the words “roses,” “smoke,” and “golden.”
  • Consonance: use the same consonant sounds in groups of words. For example, the “p” sound in the words “drip,” “plain” and “tipped.”
  • Alliteration: use words starting with the same initial sound. For example “beautiful,” “bald,” “birds.”
  • Onomatopoeia: use words that sound like their meaning. For example, “boom,” “whoosh,” “pop.”

Use line breaks for poetic effect. While free verse poets have many reasons for breaking lines the way they do, here are a few reasons many have in common:

  • It is logical to break a line after a complete sentence or phrase.
  • A break is used to emphasize a word or phrase by placing it at the end of the line.
  • A line break can be used in lieu of punctuation.
  • A line break in an unexpected place helps to create surprise, humor, or irony.
  • Line breaks can be used to produce the shape of the poem.

Now write your poems.

When you are done, share your writing, both with writing partners and here as a comment. Compliment the strengths in each other’s writing.