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Poetry meter preference

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I have written quite a few children's poems, two have been sold so far, and I have many that I'm either trying to submit or still working on. Plus 2 picture books--one submitted and one getting ready for submission. I just realized that I write them all in pretty much the same meter. It's either 4 beats per line, or 4 beats alternated by 3 beats. It's how my brain wants to organize the words I guess. But I wonder if that really limits me?  I tried to write a poem a different way, and it ended up 4 and 3 again. It's a nice poem, but...

I don't know if this is even an issue. I guess all I can do is read read read and study the other poetry out there. Does anyone have any advice or encouragement on this? Thank you in advance!
#1 - July 26, 2018, 12:34 PM

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Dr. Seuss wrote almost all of his rhymers, if not all, in anapestic tetrameter. 

Meter limits you if you feel limited.  I don't think there's a rule about it. If you want to expand your repertoire, keep practicing. I personally think you should, but what I think is not as important as what you think.

AM
#2 - July 26, 2018, 01:51 PM
VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW (Disney-Hyperion, 2018)
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Welcome to the Blueboard, Gbug!!

 :welcome2

Meter limits you if you feel limited. 

Anne Marie said it perfectly.

Right now, you have a style that suits you (and has suited the buyer of your two poems so far!). Unless you grow bored with it or find it's receiving negative feedback, I don't think it's a problem.

Best wishes!!

 :stars3 :stars3 :stars3
#3 - July 26, 2018, 02:06 PM

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Different meters (a combination of poetic feet and the number of feet per line) provide different effects. Some have an innate, light-hearted feel. Others mimic human speech. Still others have a more formal feel. It is fine to work in a meter that comes naturally to you, but you may want to experiment with others until you learn how to use them to accomplish what you want. If you do want to experiment, find a good book on poetry to help you in your journey.  :star2
#4 - July 26, 2018, 02:14 PM
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 02:19 PM by Pons »

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I agree with Pons. Another consideration is that if you ever want to publish a collection, it may become tedious for the reader to read the same meter over and over again. This could impact sales.
#5 - July 26, 2018, 05:57 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Thanks everyone!  So funny...I was lamenting about this over dinner last night with my husband (who is also a writer/editor), and he and I discussed how it's really only an issue if I were to pursue putting together a collection. So I will work on this, because I might want to do that. However, my 5 year old daughter was listening, and got excited that she could help me out. She ran upstairs to get a book that would help, which turned out to be Dr. Seuss's ABC (one of my favorites). So I read it to her, and couldn't help but laugh when I realized the extremely familiar meter much of that book is written in. She asked if it helped, and I told her most definitely!  :-)
#6 - July 27, 2018, 06:19 AM

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Best of luck in your poetic journey.  :)  I book I've found helpful is The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry.
#7 - July 27, 2018, 01:12 PM

I'm really struggling with free verse. I find it really hard to write. I picked up a children's free verse book at the library and tried to read it to my daughter (almost 6). She stopped me after the second poem, said she didn't like it, and asked me to read her a chapter of Little Farm in the Ozarks instead. C'est la vie. I will keep working on it.
#8 - August 14, 2018, 11:15 AM

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This is just my opinion, but I think free verse is a hard place to begin to learn how to write poetry. Too many people take a prose sentence, chop it up into phrases on different lines and call it free verse. Although free verse does not usually have meter or rhyme, it still uses figurative language, and is definitely a different animal than chopped up prose.

Learning about poetic feet and meters and rhyme and other figurative techniques will give you a foundation from which to build and move into free verse.

I'm not surprised your daughter was less than impressed with free verse. Children delight in well done meters and rhyme.

Congratualtions on sticking to your goal - and good luck.
#9 - August 14, 2018, 04:14 PM

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I'm not surprised your daughter was less than impressed with free verse. Children delight in well done meters and rhyme.

This.

Keep working on your poems. A wonderful little book for self-study is Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston.

#10 - August 15, 2018, 06:19 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

Thanks!!!  I will check that out!
#11 - August 15, 2018, 07:27 AM

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Almost all of the work by Emily Dickinson was in lines of 4 and 3 beats. You have probably noticed that people talk about her a lot, but you may also recall that she didn't eek out much of a living from the writing.

All of us writers are in a tough spot to find words that are (a) worth saying and (b) worth money (or more precisely, will convince a publisher that it will sell). In the poetry world especially, I have heard that books on shelves don't sell. Books sell at readings. If you find that your poems are engaging your audience (and yourself as a writer), then I say don't force a change.

To add in a couple more book suggestions:
All the fun's in how you say a thing
Timothy Steele

The poem's heartbeat
Alfred Corn
#12 - August 17, 2018, 06:12 AM

Thanks!!!  I have a lot of reading to do. :-)
#13 - August 20, 2018, 10:29 AM

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