Harbourwalk Poem W404

I have freed myself –
From myself after decades
Of writing form verse –
To write freer verse that’s the
Unedited me unleashed

10.26.19

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Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion.

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Notes to this poem…

I started writing poetry on the strictest of forms, like sonnets, lyrics, or at least verses with meters and rhyme schemes. I dare say I deemed most of the free verse I was exposed to just to be grammatically poor chaos of thoughts and feelings. To be honest, I still do.

However, I have “loosened up” over the years, to find a happy medium between the two, form verse and the free verse to which I was exposed, to land on not too grammatically poor, semi-ordered thoughts and feelings under some control so others can make sense of it. I still don’t care much for completely chaotic free verse I tend to associate with “spoken word”, but that’s just my nature because I tend to be the pensive, reflective type, not the fiery, wild type I often see and hear at “spoken word”. As a result, I kept myself from writing much poetry in formats that had some features of form to it, formal as per literature like in sonnets, or informal with just whatever features I chose.

The journey started with exposure to Emily Dickinson, who wrote in occasional rhyme, with that dashing punctuation you see in most of my poetry. I have the One (stanza) collection where I created the rule of at least two lines rhyming and no more than nine lines in length. Then I traded rhyme and some proper grammar for some form in the Japanese haiku (1000 exactly!) and tanka (457) forms. But they were still pretty contained and in control, as you can tell, not generally meant to be read with fire.

During this journey, I had dabbled in some free verse. All of 7poems out of over 1800. However, I didn’t think them very good. I just kept them “for the record”, so to speak, of everything I wrote. Looking down on the form probably didn’t help me do a good job, either. Why should I be engaging in something I had deemed inferior?

Well, the last turning point came out of some “poetic psychotherapy” I gave myself. I basically answered what I didn’t like about free verse as the story above went, then followed up with an answer for if I could find some form of free verse to like? The answer was basically “long form Emily Dickinson”. Not the quality as if I could write like her. No. Just that reflective, barely containable form that needs to be let out, but could be done so in some orderly way. Orderly isn’t editing for content, though, like I’d hold back anything I’d want to express. Orderly is just expressing that in a way more palatable to readers who might have a chance of liking it, to like it without all the chaos of completely unfiltered thoughts and feelings. Poetry can be hard enough to understand as it were. There’s no need to complicate it with nonsensical language put out at a rate sensible language would be hard to understand to begin with.

So that’s where I stand as of today, after having had time to reflect upon and form my position on vacation in California, far from where I normally write poetry in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And I’m excited to say that there’ll be lots of free verse coming from me soon after today!

And congrats to me for having written 1000 haiku! I had no idea! 🙂

The W-series poems comprise mostly of haiku or tanka composed during walks I took on the portion of Halifax’s waterfront known as the Harbourwalk, during the warmer months of 2018 & 2019, when the Seabridge was in place.

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