Poetry essay: Are poetry forms restrictive or do they inspire creativity?

In writing poetry you may have used poetry forms.  You may have written, for example, haiku, sonnets, rondeau, and poetry in other forms.  You may have also used poetry form elements such as rhyming, meter, and syllable count.

In writing with a poetry form you may have wondered how it affected your work.

You may have at times found forms restrictive.  For example, you may have wanted to use a certain word in a certain place, but because it didn’t fit the form you were using, you couldn’t.

Alternatively, you may have used forms that helped inspire creativity.  The form elements, for example, may have caused you to think of a word or phrasing that you wouldn’t have without them.

In writing poetry you may have thought about this.

Poetry forms can be restrictive

At times, poetry forms can be restrictive.  Some examples of this include:

  • As mentioned above, not using a particular word in a particular place because it didn’t if a form.

  • Writing lines that were longer or shorter than necessary to fit a form.

  • Struggling with a form element to the point of distraction from the expression.

  • Finding yourself stuck in a poem because you couldn’t find an expression that fit a form element.

  • Using words you didn’t really want to use because they fit a form.

  • Using awkward phrasings because they fit the form.

Poetry forms can inspire creativity

Alternatively though, poetry forms can inspire creativity.

First, as mentioned, the form may inspire you to use certain words or phrases you may not have thought of without the form.

Second, trying to fit something to a form can cause you to think more and you can sometimes find better ways to express ideas.

Third, some forms are easy to use and can become familiar.  This ease of use and familiarity can make writing poems in the forms easier.  Since you don’t have to focus as much on the mechanics, you can focus more on the expression.

Fourth, some poetry forms can sound very nice if used correctly.  Achieving this can require creativity.

Fifth, working with forms can be like mental exercise.  Learning to use meter, syllable count, rhymes, and so forth, can serve as poetry training that can help you write poems in the future and do so in a more creative way.

Some thoughts

Whether a form is restrictive or inspires creativity depends on the form, the expression, and the poet.  Sometimes a form can be a hindrance.  Other times it can be a starting point for something new.  It depends on the situation.

Sometimes it takes practice with certain forms to move them from being restrictive to inspiring creativity.  The increased familiarity with the form elements can make them easier to use.

When writing poetry with a form, at first they can at times feel restrictive.  Sometimes it just takes a bit more time working with the poem before a creative idea appears.

Alternatively, sometimes writing with a form is just not the best idea.  Having the freedom that free verse provides can sometimes be very good inspiration.

Again, whether a form is restrictive or inspires creativity depends.  Sometimes, in some situations, they will restrict your writing.  In other cases, they will help you to write better.  It depends.  You should work with forms, learn to use them, and learn to understand when a form is restricting your writing and when it is helping it.  When you do, you can make the best decision about whether or not to use a form for a particular poem and idea.