Szirtes, form, and patterns

Generally, I don’t go for standard forms in my poetry. Verse, meter, and stanzas aren’t my thing. Instead, I tend towards making something I personally find visually appealing by playing with white space, while adhering to my own personal standards. George Szirtes says that “Verse is not decoration: it is structural. It is a forming principle and works at depth…Does the female mind, if we can isolate such a thing, abhor patterns?”

I take issue with this.

First off, this question depends on a biologically determinate falsehood, assuming that a “female” mind is routed differently than a “male” brain. It is followed by rattling off a list of traditionally feminine interests (“What of all those quilts, flower schemes, and fancy dances?”) as if to demonstrate that traditional female interests correlate to patterns only in non-literary fashions. The thing is, every single person has a different thought process. There is no single “female mind,” nor is there a “male mind” or a “non-binary mind” for people who don’t conform to the gender binary. Assuming that all women must like flower schemes and abhor writing in sonnets or verse is ridiculous.

Second, people often follow their own rules in writing forms a la free-verse. Depending on my subject matter, my form varies through several patterns I usually ascribe to. Often, if I think my speaker has an inner thought, I’ll indent the line(s) saying that thought, almost like an aside. Line breaks tend to be very important to consider. In last semester’s class, Lytton implored us to consider what we were favoring when breaking lines: the line or the sentence. My line breaks tend to focus either on a double meaning or breaking when a line sounds good based on syllables or word choices. While they may not be readily apparent to readers, these are definite patterns in the writing process.  These are both structural and for decoration.

There are other things in form I tend to use not because of pattern because they both look good and add to how the poem is read. Personally I like using “staircase text,” where the words follow each other down a line break, as it speeds up the poem. Through white space, I also tend to group words that fit together but are separated by different lines. It tends to give people the association and sometimes a different image than just the one stated in text.

So, long story short, I usually use form in my poetry, but more internal form than a classical form.

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