Poetry Quotes: Free Verse

Welcome to my page of quotations about modern and contemporary poetry, or shall we say “free verses versus formal verses.” New-style poetry as opposed to traditional, free-form rather than structured poems, vers libre not fixed verse, syllabically unstarched, poetic anarchy, reason without rhyme, poets gone wild!  —ღ Terri

“Them kind of poems ain’t stylish no longer. Rhymes has gone out. Everything’s ‘free verse’ now. I’ve been readin’ up about it. So I’ve wrote some of ’em. They’re real easy to do — jest lines chopped off free an’ easy, anywheres that it happens, only have some long, an’ some short, for notoriety, you know, like this.” And she read:
      “A great big cloud
      That was black
      Came up
      Out of the West. An’ I knew
      Then
      For sure
      That a storm was brewin’.
      An’ it brewed.”
“Now that was dead easy — anybody could see that. But it’s kind of pretty, I think, too, jest the same. Them denatured poems are always pretty, I think — about trees an’ grass an’ flowers an’ the sky, you know. Don’t you?” ~Eleanor H. Porter, “Free Verse — à la Susan,” Dawn, 1918

Sorry if these lines are irregular in length and jolty in meter. ~J. F. Bowman, 1868  [a little altered —tg]

I recently bought a book of free verse. For twelve dollars. ~George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty, 2001

I’d as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down. ~Robert Frost

Couldn’t you play better tennis with the net down? ~Carl Sandburg

The modern poet does not deny the right of regular verse to exist, or to be poetic. He merely affirms that poetry is sincerity, and has no essential alliance with regular schemes of any sort. He reserves the right to adapt his rhythm to his mood, to modulate his metre as he progresses. ~Herbert Read, Phases of English Poetry, 1928

The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry, darning, etc., for himself. In a few exceptional cases this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but as a rule the result is squalor — empty bottles on the unswept floor and dirty sheets on the unmade bed. ~W. H. Auden, “Squares and Oblongs,” 1947

My own verse is usually free verse. The freer the better. ~L. Ron Hubbard

Teenagers are free verse walking around on two legs. ~Dorothy Allison

Poetry was music. Poetry was not the thing said, but continual evocation of delicious suggestions of meaning. Poetry was an unconscious crystallization of glittering images upon the bare twig of metre. Poetry, at the nadir of this search for its essence, became the formless babble and vomit of the poet’s subconscious mind. ~A. D. Hope, 1957

Modern poets
pay at the tollbooth with pretty words
then swim naked under the bridge.
~Terri Guillemets, “Contemporary poetry,” 2016

Poetry is not imagination, but imagination shaped. Not feeling, but feeling expressed symbolically; the formless suggested indirectly through form. Hence the form is an essential element of poetry. And, the form in which poetical feeling expresses itself is infinitely varied. ~Frederick W. Robertson, paraphrased from a lecture delivered before the Members of the Mechanics’ Institution, 1852

I love writing poetry because poetry can be anything you want it to be — just like daydreaming. There are no rules except those in your heart and your own pen. ~Terri Guillemets, “Quiet time with my soul,” 1998

Free Verse Poetry Quotations
Original post date: 2016 Feb 27
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