Whether you're a teacher, freelance writer, editor, or a budding recreational poet, there are many reasons why you might want to find examples of free verse poems. Free verse poetry is often described vaguely as a style with limited rules or formal constraints, so it is often hard to imagine what a free verse poem looks like. This article will briefly describe what free verse is in comparison to other types of poetry, and will then show you a few places on the Internet to read some examples of the style so you can see it for yourself.
What Makes a Poem Free Verse?
Free verse is poetry that doesn't subscribe to any meter or rhyme. This is in contrast to formal verse, which is poetry that incorporates patterns of some sort like a rhyming scheme or a particular meter, which is how a poem's lines are stressed. Other popular types of patterns are repeating words, refrains, and syllable counting, among others. For example, a sonnet has fourteen lines, a regular rhyming scheme, and a meter that is usually iambic pentameter. Without any of these features a poem cannot be a sonnet. Conversely, a poem that has some sort of regular pattern or meter cannot be considered a free verse poem.
Some of the most famous poets who introduced free verse poetry to the world were T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden, but there are thousands of other notable practitioners of this style. Today, free verse poetry is much more common than more traditional poetic forms, particular in MFA writing programs, and most poets working today work with free verse in some fashion.
Selected Examples of Free Verse Poems
The following is a list of websites where poets have published examples of free verse poems. These aren't included so much for their content as much as their form, so even if the work is not your cup of tea, see if you can begin to understand what makes each poem free verse.
- Katherine Foreman - Most of these poems by Katherine Foreman were written and published in the 1990s. Unload and Religion are strong examples of free verse in this list.
- Reading A to Z - If you're interested in teaching free verse poetry, this might be a great site for you. The site is presented as a lesson plan with writing tips and exercises. In addition, some great examples of free verse poetry are included.
- University of Chicago - This simple site has a great example of a free verse poem and also includes a simple form where you can submit a poem of your own. If you've never tried to write a free verse poem before, this might be a fun place to break the ice with no pressure.
- King Poetry - King Poetry is a website hosted by the Australian poet Graeme King. Not all of these poems are serious; some are intended to be quite light and funny, so you can see some different ways to use the form to express yourself.
- Douglas Gilbert - This Wordpress blog hosted by poet Douglas Gilbert has a large quantity of fine poems in free verse.
- Flamboyant Traffic Lights - This excellent site hosted by poet Mel Coyle has a wide assortment of poems, many in free verse. Coyle's writing process is often shared on this site as well, so you can see how a poet's work evolves through time.
The key word in free verse poetry is free. You are free to write just as you feel, without any restrictions or expectations. Some people initially find this to be a bit daunting, but once you surrender to the possibilities, there is really no limit to what you can create.