top of page

Vers Libre

'Vers libre' is a direct translation of 'free verse'

    So why have a page about it at all? 'Free' means you do what you like, doesn't it? Well - it can do - but that doesn't mean that you should just ignore several millennia of experimentation, innovation and - for goodness sake - writing. So please don't just pass over the rest of this section. But the only real way to get a feeling for poetry is to read a lot of it. By 'it' I mean all kinds of poetry, and in fact all kinds of writing, from all centuries.

    Whenever you attempt a poem yourself, you should always think of its form. That doesn't mean that you should always, or even often, try to write in one of the recognised or fixed forms that are described here. But you should always be aware of the form of your poem, even if what you end up with is a modified fixed form, a form of your own devising, or even if it has no recognisable form at all.

    So when should you try to write in a fixed form, or one of your own invention, and when should you write in full-on free form? Ah, if only I knew the answer to that, I'd have saved myself a lot of time and bother. The only genuine answer is 'I don't know', and if anyone tries to tell you they do, think very hard about what they're saying. All I'll say is that form should most of the time be secondary to a poem's meaning, image, and a great many of the other things that might make it a poem.

What Century are we in?

Haven't I seen this before somewhere?

    Easy. This is the 21st century, or to be more precise these words have been written in the early part of the year 2005 BCE. That doesn't mean that the villanelle, or sonnet, or whatever, is dead. No, that's no more true than saying that the sound poetry of the last century is a thing of the past, or that the alliteration prevalent in Anglo-Saxon poetry a millennium earlier is no more than ancient history. No, the older forms have just been joined by newer forms of expression. There's room for them all, if they're used well. 

    Yes, you should have read it. If not see A note on formal and free poetry.

bottom of page