Imitation Of Poetic Masters

Contemporaries condemn,
Writing regardless of them,
You whittle more off the block,
Beholding unfolding crock.

Never listen, never halt,
Pursue no one to consult,
Hold to no man, show to all,
Creations visioned so small.

Claims of freedom cast about,
Shades creep deep in shadowed doubt,
Mastery of least one form,
Denies claims: “thou hast conformed!”

I have been reading a book recently by Clive James. It’s called the Poetry Notebook, and I find it rather interesting. It speaks at one point on something that interests me greatly: why a majority of aspiring poets follow the free verse form. In my personal opinion, the free verse form is rarely any good. I have found only one writer on WordPress who utilizes it consistently well, and that is Paul F. Lenzi (look him up he’s good and has books and everything).

Clive James explains where this multitude came from and who they are imitating. Imitation is not by itself wrong (like many things), but it is what you take into your work that matters. Here people are trying to set free their words, so they loose what they see as constraints: the rhyme, the syllabilic scanning, the form of the poem, etc. It is all lost! You need the mastery of the art before you attempt something like that, otherwise the reader loses something to cling to throughout the poem.

This isn’t to say that it cannot be done, no of course not! But you must be careful with what you write if you don’t want to sound like you are simply copying what someone else has regurgitated before you.

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