Poem Tryouts: Content = Form

23 Jul

9:05 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, everyone. I can’t believe that at the end of next week I head back to Atlanta. I’m not sure I got a whole lot of rest this summer, but it sure went fast.

Yes, given the title of the post, I am going to insist (I mean how often have I done that, hmmm? Humour me here.) that your poem be structured with a more ย formal structure than free verse.

Remember, this is summer camp. Pick a form you have wanted to try and haven’t because it feels intimidating. Go for it. You might be surprised. The result does not have to be perfect. You may make the decision to do a partial. That’s okay. The first ghazal I wrote, I didn’t worry about the interior rhyme. I saved that for my second ghazal. I have found that by focusing on one or two parts of a form, I feel less stressed in figuring out how it works.

Or, you may wish to try two or three different forms. Post them all. Tell us which one you think works best and why. You see the post title? Ultimately, what we write should be enhanced by how we write it. Whatever your topic is, you should be able to say why a particular form works with it.

I’m thinking it would be fun to write an imagistic poem and see what the difference is in a haiku, piku, shadorma, and cinquain form to convey the image. But that’s me. I am going to be happy with anything you write… whatever form.

Next Tuesday Tryouts, we will have a prompt to do with sound. Yay! So many possibilities.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 23/07/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing



45 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Content = Form

  1. Carol Carlisle

    23/07/2013 at 12:59 pm

    I’m not sure what the “structure of this tree of life poem might be, but I am glad I write because it gives me a structure into which to tell such tender a story.

  2. val dering rojas

    23/07/2013 at 1:07 pm

    Funny, I’ve just been experimenting lately with pantoum, Inuit, and sestina. The first two are like exercises at first but I find you can get pretty interesting with them pretty fast. The sestina– that’s gonna take awhile. But I’m really interested in all form lately. It’s fun to try and has lifted me from this rut I found myself in!

    Sorry your summer has zoomed by so fast for you. Hope you can get some good relaxation in before heading back!

    • margo roby

      23/07/2013 at 1:50 pm

      I adore writing pantoums. I enjoy forms, although most of my poetry isn’t. Even so, my free verse is structured more formally than many. And, I do enjoy when a form calls to me and says it’s for a poem I’m working on.

      • val dering rojas

        23/07/2013 at 1:58 pm

        Yes! Nodding my head with your entire comment. I’ve also found that when something I’m writing in free verse isn’t working it sometimes works really well in some kind of form.

        • margo roby

          23/07/2013 at 2:02 pm

          Yep. While I have known and understood the dictum in my title, it has only been recently that I have felt I have enough under my belt to pay closer attention. When I was working on the Pulitzer remix poems, I was very conscious of the structure/content thing. (I don’t know how anyone can ever be bored!)

          • val dering rojas

            23/07/2013 at 2:24 pm

            I think that’s what I’ve been feeling lately– I used be like, “Well, I’m not a formal poetry kind of person, so I don’t do form.” But that is such an underdeveloped attitude and really was just me not wanting to try something new– because as you say, I too understood that content=form all along, it’s just that now I’m finally feeling like I know enough to actually see (and apply) that. At least I hope that’s the case!! Half the time I feel as if what I’m writing is fluff. ๐Ÿ™‚

            • margo roby

              23/07/2013 at 3:28 pm


              Fluff is allowed, so long as the other half is stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ Fluff clears the pathways, while your brain ruminates on stuff.

  3. Misky

    23/07/2013 at 1:56 pm

    If you’ll finish doing my packing, I’ll grab a pen. No? Oh well. This might have to wait three weeks.:)

    • margo roby

      23/07/2013 at 1:57 pm

      Wait. What? Packing?! What? Where?

      • Misky

        23/07/2013 at 2:00 pm

        Bogota. Colombia. Wedding. Son. Adios.

        • margo roby

          23/07/2013 at 2:02 pm

          Ah! Safe travels. Enjoy. Take lots of pics. Talk to you when you are back home.

          • Misky

            23/07/2013 at 2:07 pm

            We leave Friday morning just before sunrise. Son should be packing but he’s watching cricket. I will not panic, I will not panic, I will not panic.

  4. margo roby

    23/07/2013 at 2:08 pm

    You will not panic. Whatever will happen will anyway. Got that?

  5. purple

    23/07/2013 at 6:07 pm

    I attempted the four forms you mentioned since I tend to write in these short forms quite frequently anyway but I might have to learn some new forms and play as well.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:23 pm

      Hello. I am catching up on comments and poems. I lapse during the summer.

      I look forward to the four forms with one image. That’s the sort of play I love. Do play. I have more fun wrestling with forms like pantoums (which has become one of my favourites after years of avoidance) and ghazals.

  6. pmwanken

    23/07/2013 at 7:15 pm

    Here are a couple I did recently that I specifically thought about form, for…

    I’ll try to get back to write something new. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. DonettaS

    23/07/2013 at 10:52 pm

    I ran across this and wanted to give it a try. I always have been intrigued by Prose Poetry and so that is the form I tried taking. My poetry usually falls under free verse I suppose, No rhyming on purpose and breaks wherever I insert them. Here is my link if you’d like to read my Prose – Insomnia and offer any advice at all. Thank you.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 4:25 pm

      Hello. My apologies for not getting back sooner. In summer I am … sporadic. I’ll be fine towards the end of August.

      I was interested to read about your prose poetry intriguement, as I have had the form hanging around in a brain cell waiting for me to take a deep breath and try it.

      I look forward to seeing what you came up with.

  8. rosross

    24/07/2013 at 2:04 am

    I am not good at identifying style per se: either but an offering all the same. Travel well Margo.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 2:59 pm

      Thank you, Ros. I’ll be over shortly.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:07 pm

      Oh, woe. Your tone of voice is so expressive in those four words. Clearly we need to get through summer more quickly.


    24/07/2013 at 3:22 pm

    Forms are my favourite form of poetry! Here’s a slightly anti-form Rondeau:

    A Rebellious not-quite Rondeau

    Viva la volta.
    A sonnet instructs us
    on structural strictures.
    but my rondeauโ€™s
    decidedly aberrant.

    Swimming against the current,
    means pop icons arenโ€™t
    my cup of tea.
    Simon Cowell, Gaga
    Beyoncรฉ, recurrent
    on TV..

    Throw me a lifebelt โ€“
    my plea is heartfelt.
    I know no more icons –
    unless they are bygones
    like me.

    Viva la volta.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:09 pm

      I thought of you, ViV! I love working with forms even the ones I have to wrestle. Your Rondeau made me smile. Great fun.

  10. julespaige

    24/07/2013 at 5:31 pm

    I like short forms. I more or less just wrote this for a Miz Q prompt but you might enjoy it too.
    a Mirror Cinquain (if there is such a thing).

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:10 pm

      Well, Jules, if there isn’t such a thing, there is now ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Hannah Gosselin

    24/07/2013 at 9:46 pm

    Busy is as busy do-es…yeah, it does seem fast, this summer stuff. :/

    Well, I happened to write a form today and I happen to not have enough energy to write another one…you don’t mind if I share that one do you?!

    Oh, good. I didn’t think you would, Margo!

    Missing you…I hope that the summer finds you a spot-o-relaxation, too.

    Smiles to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:13 pm

      I’m grinning. I love your rhetorical conversation. Mark, below, has one, too.

      No relaxation here. Mom and I are wondering what we did different! We have visitors, phone calls, more visitors…

      I’m looking forward to the peace and quiet of my normal life ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Hannah Gosselin

        31/07/2013 at 8:53 am

        Ha ha!!

        Me, too…I’ll take a dose of normal…yup-yup-yup. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. barbara_y

    28/07/2013 at 11:59 am

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:15 pm

      I’ll catch this in a moment. Bored are we?

      • barbara_

        30/07/2013 at 3:32 pm

        Dissatisfied. Similar enough that it’s hard to tell which is which sometimes.

        • margo roby

          30/07/2013 at 3:48 pm

          mmmm — dissatisfied very different, much harder to deal with, more your world rather than a moment

  13. Ruth

    28/07/2013 at 5:43 pm

    Very late I am (though of course, it’s never really too late here, is it?), with my sedoka at

    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:16 pm

      Exactly! You learn quickly. I still have abject apologies from longtime contributors! I’ll be over shortly.

  14. markwindham

    30/07/2013 at 2:03 pm

    a ‘form’ she says..does she know what I think of forms…yes, i am sure she does…probably why she did it…and that first link…oh she no doubt found humor in that…we shall talk…oh yes


    • margo roby

      30/07/2013 at 3:17 pm

      Chuckle… maybe even a chortle…

      • markwindham

        30/07/2013 at 3:50 pm

        mmhhmm..chortling since you wrote the post I’m sure.


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