Free Verse

Writing Exercise:  I love free verse and use it whenever I need to write, but feel stuck where to begin.  I discovered this strand of poetry when I was grieving the consecutive deaths of my daughters.  I tried to journal, but wanted to write something I’d actually want to reread, not relive.  Truth be told, I’m not a details person and find that certain visual words pack more memories for me than an actual script of daily events.  Free Verse also allows me to have privacy in my writing, a kind of code, because when I write I usually have an audience in mind.  I may or may not want my audience to have full access to my thoughts.  When I journal, I can’t lose myself in the words because I am in a constant state of confusion over who my audience might someday be: a family member, the guy moving my boxes, or…? And then I write and self-edit at the same time, imagining that someone I love might read something very raw after I’m six feet under and… you see my point.  Journaling is just too exhausting!

So throw away your punctuation and get playful, whatever mood you’re in.  Weight your words, so that you need less of them.  Pack private memories into visual words, like your own inside ‘joke’.  Start a new line when you feel like it.  Enjoy a convention without perfection.  Stop when the bubble off your chest has burst.  Then go back and edit out the words that aren’t carrying their weight.

Here’s an imperfect, first-draft example to get you started:

A few of my favourite things:
lavande and piano music
garden greens, and purples, too
the aroma of shortbread in mom’s kitchen
salads, silver, road trips,
my Redburn reunion,
brick and wood,
Dutch black licorice,
all day every day with…
clothes on the line,
children singing,
a novel’s first draft,
grace and second chances,
horses and soccer balls,
making peace with my father’s mountain.


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