Based on Resource Books by Nancy Atwell
 Free verse is poetry that doesn’t have a regular rhythm,
line length, or rhyme scheme. It relies on the natural
rhythms of speech. Today it is the form of poetry that
most American poets prefer. Free-verse poetry invents
and follows its own forms, patterns and rules.
 Free-Verse poets use the conventions of the genre to
create voice, power, and meaning.
The Power of I
 First person experiences need a first person. Make sure
your I is present and is thinking, feeling, seeing,
acting. Give your readers someone to be with. Find
your voice as a poet. Wave your I flag in your poetry.
1st draft- The Power of I
The wind rustles the trees
Like it does the long grasses of the meadow, commands
the water to move in ripples
Like tiny mountains and rests in the sails
Of a small boat on its way home.
Then the wind leaves to rustle other trees
Blow through other meadows,
Move other tiny mountains
and send other small boats home.
_Ceysa McKechine
Wind- 3rd Draft-Wave your I Flag
I listen to the wind rustle through the trees
As it does the long grasses in the meadows.
I watch as it commands the water to move in ripples
Like tiny mountains and rest in the sails of a small boat,
Pushing it home.
Then the wind abandons the small boat to rustle other trees,
Blow through other meadows,
command other tiny mountains to move,
Send other small boats home.
As I watch night begin to settle,
I wonder, will I ever find myself in the small boat,
Watching the same wind fly over the green landscape,
Longing for it to land in my sails and send me home?
Beware the Participle
 What is a participle?
 A verb in disguise-a verb that functions as an adjective
- Participles
 Participles are -ed and -ing verbs that function as
adjectives—for example:
 The sleeping cat is brown.
 The freshly picked tomatoes look delicious.
 I am going to the store.
 The kids were dropped off at school.
Perched on a tree stump
Trying to admire
the lobster pound woods
Looking at the gun metal
Grey ashes dancing above
Like skeletons rubbing shoulders
Watching birch trees surrender their whites
Snow sticking in shady spots
And tired ancestors of fern waving goodbye
Hearing no birds call
Except for three gulls circling the pond
And screaming at the wind
Smelling old air,
Not even smelling the balsams,
And noticing no signs of what’s to come.
But, deep inside, knowing
And saying a prayer of thanks
For the gifts of imagination and memoryThe twin blessings of the human condition
That each spring survive
The dismal days of march in Maine.
Leads Begin Inside
 In the words of Horace, one of the greatest lyric poets
of all time (65 B.C.E. – 8 B.C.E.), begin poems “in the
midst of things.” Start your poems inside
 “ an experience, feeling, observation, or memory
Abstract Vs. Imagery
 An abstraction is anything that is not tangible and
does not bring a picture directly to mind. Love, future,
grief, and time are all abstractions.
 Images are anything that are universally seen similarly
in our minds. Apples, ladders, and canes are all images
– we all see them in a similar way.
Conclude Strongly
 The conclusion often conveys a poem’s deepest
meaning. It needs to be strong – to resonate after the
reader has finished the poem.
 The conclusion should leave a reader with a feeling,
idea, image, or question.
 Experiment: try different endings until you find the
one that best conveys your meaning.
 Maybe try an echo structure: repeat significant lines
from the lead, or elsewhere, in the conclusion. Give
your poem the time it needs for the right conclusion.
Breaking lines and Stanzas and
Poetry is written to be spoken.
Break lines to emphasize pauses or silences.
Break on nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Try to draft your poem in lines. When you revise,
insert // between lines to indicate a new line break,
and ----------------- between lines to indicate a new
stanza break. Experiment with the size, shape, and
length of lines and stanzas. In general, you may want
to punctuate and capitalize the lines of your poems as
if they’re prose, but don’t be afraid to experiment
with/without caps and punctuation, either.
Rain Lullaby
I listen to the rain
as it drizzles on our roof
And snuggle even deeper
Under the warm weight of my covers.
My hands open my book,
And I begin to read.
In a moment I’m lost
As the story unfolds.
Slowly, slowly, I feel
My eyelids turn to lead.
I shut my book
And turn off the light.
Already adrift
I close my eyes,
So glad to be where I amHalf asleep
In the warmth
Of my bed
With the rain as my lullaby
-Molly Jordan
About Lines
“ I cannot say too many times how
powerful the techniques of line length
and line breaks are. You cannot swing
the lines around, or fling strongsounding words, or scatter soft ones, to
no purpose.”
- Mary Oliver
The Meet
Step up.
Take your mark.
I burst off the starting block,
fly through the air,
slice into the water,
and glide.
I stroke,
gasp for air
until I’m at the end of the
where I flip
and push off
as hard as I can.
The screams of the crowd
fill my ears
as I take one more breath,
reach the wall,
hit it,
- David MacDonald
 Comes from the Latin word stantia, which
means “standing” or “stopping”
 Later became stanza = “stopping place” or
 “The stanza-break almost always indicates a
pause, however slight, just as you have to
slow down to go through a door.”
– Ron Padgett
The Storm
Under gloomy gray skies hanging low
I pulled on my oilskins and climbed into the
wooden skiff.
I was skeptical;
you were not.
It’ll clear up, you assured me.
So off we set.
Before even the first trap was hauled,
rain began to trickle down our cheeks
and onto the orange rubber of the oilskins.
Within a few traps
it was streaming from the sky,
lashing onto our bowed heads.
The Storm (continued)
Trap after trap we hauled,
and I did my jobs mechanically as we collected our booty;
mottled brown and green lobsters.
The dog bounded along the seaweedy rocks, trying to keep up with us.
I shivered beneath my hood.
We pulled into the dock
with numbed faces and frozen fingers.
I met my black dog under the trees on the shore
and with stiff hands tried to unbuckle my soaked life vest
as we walked to the boat shop at the top of the hill,
as the rain poured down on the blue-gray ocean
- Annie Kass
About Stanzas
“The main thing is to
make rooms that are
big enough to be useful,
shapely enough to be
attractive, and not so empty
as to be disappointing.”
-Rod Padgett
“ Poetry is
the art of
- Robert Wallace
“I know a poem
is finished
when I can’t
find another
word to cut.”
-Bobbi Katz
A Little Friendship (cut)
We met on an airplane.
She was from Germany
and on her way to visit
her grandmother in the States.
We had finished our vacation
in Germany and were headed home to Maine.
We wrote our addresses
on slips of paper
and exchanged them.
We said good-bye as we collected our baggage.
But never saw her again.
I lost my slip of paper.
First we exchanged visits in our airplane neighborhoods. I think she lost hers too.
We listened to music
We never wrote to each other.
and watched Bugs Bunny videos.
So I consider her a brief friend,
Then we crawled under seats,
one who helped pass the time on a six-hour flight
poked people’s feet,
and made a memory.
and scurried away,
- Lucas Mayer
trying to suppress our giggles.
Near the back of the plane, two brothers
played with Batman toys.
We despised Batman
and chanted an anti-Batman song
to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”
Cut to the Bone
 When the poet can’t find another word to cut, a poem
is done.
 Weigh every line and every word: does it do anything
for your poem? Does a smart reader need it? And, is it
elegant shorthand yet?
Use Repetition
 Beware of ineffective repetition: a word repeated in too
close proximity to no purpose or effect and that sounds
 Use effective repetition to stress an important word,
phrase, idea or theme; to move a poem; to build a
poem’s momentum; to create cadence.
 When you revise, read your poem with your ears and
listen for its rhythms.
 Is this clear? Can you do it? What are your
Figurative Language, or Two Things
at Once
 Literal: Language is true to fact. It uses words in
accordance with their actual meanings.
 Eg. My dog is a carnivore
 Figurative: Language makes comparisons between
unrelated things or ideas, in order to show something
about a subject.
 Eg. In the kitchen, when I cook, my dog is a tap dancer.
Figurative Language, or Two Things
at Once (continued)
 Three kinds of figurative language:
 Metaphor: (Greek) means literally transference. The
writer transfers qualities of one thing to another thing. A
metaphor has two parts: A = B: something is something
else. The B part, the something else, shows how the poet
feels about or perceives the A part.
The odd, friendless boy raised by four aunts.
- Philip Dasey
Figurative Language, or Two Things
at Once (continued)
 Simile (from the Latin similes: similar) : A kind of
metaphor that uses like or as to compare two things: A is
like B
Thunder threatens
Like a sound that rolls around and around
in a mean dog’s throat
- Martha Sherwood
 Personification (from the Greek prosopa, meaning
“face” or “mask”) : a metaphor that gives human or
physical qualities to an object, animal, or an idea.
Eg. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes.
- T.S. Eliot