Imprisoned Free Verse

Today (Thursday) Bjorn is hosting the dVerse Meeting the Bar with a secret guest. He wants us to use free writing to create free verse. The theme is looking back through our past decade and pick any theme we have used. The directions are:
1) select a few keywords (2) set timer for 9 minutes and write whatever come to mind (3) use this to create our own free verse. Bjorn included a picture of his draft which reminded him of being in university and studying physics. This was a hard exercise for me as I never write anything down. I get an idea and then form the poem/haiku/tanka in my head. Having to write down first really tied me up! Come visit at dVerse to see the other poems linked to this prompt. I have a feeling there are going to be some really interesting poems/drafts linked. My draft is at the end of the poem. One look and you will see why I rarely write anything down!  Also linking this to Poets United, Poetry Pantry

moritsuke Public Domain photo

moritsuke Public Domain photo

Imprisoned Free Verse
my “free verse” is often a contradiction in terms
as my verse is never free – in the sense of
free association – poems are always formed
in my mind first –
words are precisely arranged
to entice the brain and
capture the heart.
like moritsuke –
the Japanese art of food arranging.
every item is placed to best advantage
to show and balance color, form –
like a painting or flowers.
on the paper, the soul of my poem,
the heart of my poem
becomes a captive held prisoner
squiggled words in a prison of paper and ink
with a guard named Frustration.
The smell of the first snow or the drift
of a red maple leaf to the ground
can only be written in the mind and felt
by the heart. Ink and paper
are for grocery lists or
a scribbled recipe for a friend.
In my mind, poems about the first snow
or love or stars or trees
are a a sheathed sword.
When brought out into the light
they shine with a life of their own.
And sometimes, they stay in my mind
until my heart can bear to let them go.

copyright kanzensakura poem draft

copyright kanzensakura
poem draft

41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 08:02:02

    I actually like this a lot.. after the first initial struggle you let things flow through association…. I get an impression of a waterfall being released and I think the freewriting exercise brought forward some excellent images… I think I might condense mine a little ending up with something very short in the end… I look forward to what this will be.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 17, 2015 @ 10:07:38

      It was interesting. I rarely too notes in school or university, commiting all go memory. I am dyslexic and memory has been my best friend. My husband gets annoyed the few times I jot instructions for him, it being a mishmash of English, Japanese, and words written backwards. It was a challenge! Thank you for the prompt!


  2. writersdream9
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 09:14:51

    There is a reason why they call it “stream of consciousness”! I like this because it’s real and immediate. I can imagine that while difficult, you must have felt a certain freedom with this.


  3. Glenn Buttkus
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 15:07:43

    Very impressive actually; heck, I write everything down in long hand, filling pages to blue pencil before I type up the first draft; we all have our process. I must say though, this poem was forming in my mind, getting me up early to start scribbling it out. I like your lines /the soul of my poem/the heart of my poem/ becomes a captive held prisoner/.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 17, 2015 @ 15:14:43

      I used to write in notebooks but gave it up as it restrained me too much. I like giving my brain full rein to run and leap and dance. I get all mixed up writing down – a horrible mishmash of bad handwriting, Japanese, illegible words written mirror image – my fingers keep up with my thoughts better when keyboarding. I find “free” writing restraining, conversely because of no discipline to it. Makes me itch.


  4. Grace
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 15:20:58

    I love it when you compare the writing process to the Japanese art of food arranging. Always learning something new from you Toni ~

    Thanks for the shining words and gift from your heart ~


  5. Amy Jo Sprague
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 16:09:14

    I love it, the free flowing words about words with great imagery on something fresh


  6. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa)
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 17:57:56

    This is lovely!! such a vivid comparison to the Japanese art of food arrangement 🙂

    Lots of love,


  7. Elusive Trope
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 18:48:03

    “…verse is never free” is so true, and I think you have splendidly expressed just why it isn’t. Underneath it all for me, there is the sentiment that the mind and heart themselves are not free, for they cannot help but react to the world of snow and leaves that are out of our control, our reaction to the facets of the world seemingly having a life of their own.


  8. Victoria C. Slotto
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 18:50:26

    I just savored this. I’m so glad we could both be “ourselves” with this prompt that was tough for us. You describe the process of poem-ing to a tee and I love the comparison to moritsuke. I sometimes suspect that, if there is such a thing as re-incarnation, I was Japanese. Without the knowledge you have, I still discover such an affinity for the arts and how they are lived out. THank you for this.


  9. purple ash
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 18:54:23

    “like moritsuke” What an interesting and appropriate comparison.

    This is my favorite part of the poem: “the heart of my poem becomes a captive held prisoner squiggled words in a prison of paper and ink” … And the ending, which is so beautiful: “And sometimes, they stay in my mind until my heart can bear to let them go.”


  10. Bodhirose
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 21:21:42

    You did very well with your free verse that told all about how you don’t like conforming to free verse! I loved this!


  11. Candy
    Dec 17, 2015 @ 21:32:42

    you may not feel comfortable ith this form but you did it so well…. and the ending made me sigh. Our “unfree” verses certainly took different paths.


  12. Pleasant Street
    Dec 18, 2015 @ 07:17:36

    This is such a treat. I like that you went with writing about the process of writing, one of my favourite subjects. Thinking about food being placed on the plate at the same time made it even more beautiful.


  13. Mary
    Dec 18, 2015 @ 09:51:35

    I liked all of the images you used here, Toni. I think my favorite part is:

    The smell of the first snow or the drift
    of a red maple leaf to the ground
    can only be written in the mind and felt
    by the heart.

    So very true…you can never really express these adequately with pen / pencil.
    We try hard, in poetry, sometimes get closer than others…but we cannot really
    write what we see or smell.

    I like your ending too…indeed sometimes those images shine on for a long time. I never really thought of it that way, but so true. Sometimes they are happy images and sometimes sad ones, but they have a life of their own until we at last are able to let them go.

    Merry Christmas to you, Toni! But, of course, I do hope to see you on Sunday for Poets United last pantry of the year as well.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 18, 2015 @ 10:14:39

      Oh good! I had thought PU had already closed up shop. Would it be acceptable to submit this? I’m glad you liked this poem. Free style isn’t my thing… Free form is good. I truly do like your trimerics better – such a graceful form. A blessed Christmas to you and peaceful New Year.


    Dec 18, 2015 @ 14:33:54

    Your creative process astonishes me. Your poems are fabulous, yet they arrive fully fledged. I don’t do handwriting (illegible and too slow), all my poems are written on the keyboard, but I edit and re-draft and correct interminably. Your freewrite may not have seemed free to you, but it is perfect to me.


  15. petrujviljoen
    Dec 19, 2015 @ 08:38:11

    A friend is dyslexic and it has kept her from writing even though I know she is talented. I’ll show her this – it might give her confidence.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 19, 2015 @ 10:17:38

      That would be a wonderful thing to do. I actually took a speed reading course on university which helped tremendously by teaching me how to focus on the written word. I never had a problem with maths and sciences. There are actually quite a few programs now for dyslexic. When I came along, nothing. I read the last Harry Potter book in four hours….so there is definitely hope! But writing and such is still easier in my mind


  16. Misky
    Dec 19, 2015 @ 16:53:53

    I like your approach of balancing your words and thoughts. Lovely.


  17. Sherry Marr
    Dec 20, 2015 @ 22:34:45

    I most love “and sometimes they stay in my mind till my heart can bear to let them go.” An interesting comparison of forming a poem to the art of food arranging for best effect……an intriguing thought.


  18. thotpurge
    Dec 20, 2015 @ 22:53:39

    I agree…poems are not free really…they are born in the mind and released only when we can bear to let them go…, lovely thoughts.


  19. Sumana Roy
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 01:37:13

    “like moritsuke –
    the Japanese art of food arranging.
    every item is placed to best advantage
    to show and balance color, form –”…..this is my favorite part…a wonderful analogy…very deftly you’ve spoken of poetry here as well, the art of word arranging….


  20. Donna@Living From Happiness
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 05:29:53

    I agree…this is a wonderful free verse that was able to flow from your mind and out of your heart….’can only be written in the mind and felt
    by the heart.’ I love this line as it is exactly what it feels like when I observe nature and words spring forth in my mind.


  21. Jae Rose
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 07:58:58

    What a wonderful notion – beautifully expounded…i hope that are words are more free than other aspects of our lives however…i am sure they are


  22. Brother Ollie
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 08:30:46

    nice – I like that you shared your philosophy of poetry. My poem are seeds in my mind first, then I, hopefully, freely write and flesh them out.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 22, 2015 @ 15:39:29

      Mine always emerge fully grown because I hang on to them so long. And then, when I write them out, I realize some of my thoughts are not quite….what I really wanted to say so like you, I flesh them out.


  23. Myrna Rosa
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 11:43:11

    I often think I would do better if I wrote down a free association draft based on an idea. But I never do. My poems don’t flow easily. I edit as I go along. Sometimes frustration does look on.
    I like your poem, your process and the words you use to describe it


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 21, 2015 @ 19:57:11

      Thank you. Bjorn gave the advice when free writing to write all the thoughts down go through them like pouring through a sieve and keep the bits left behind. Like I said, I never write down until it’s been gone over in my head. At that point I’ll read through and fine tune if need be. We all have our methods. Mine works for me. Thank you.


  24. Susan Chast
    Dec 25, 2015 @ 09:41:17

    WOW! My verse is freer in the sense that my words too often fly without pausing first, the only prison being their inadequacy. But oh, what a lovely poem. Please continue doing what you do, bringing joy to our lives. Merry Christmas!


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