I’ve been thinking about the rules. At one point, my creative writing program had a list of rules for the intro class so that beginning poets did not go straight for the techniques or pitfalls that pretty much guarantee failure for the newbies, no matter how talented. I still have a copy of those rules, and I’d like to not only think about them here, but also have my summer online intro students think about them too in a discussion board thread. I’m probably not going to be this rigid. Over time, I’ve found too many exceptions. I thought though, that this would be a good place to bring up the rules, poetry rules, that is.
First off, what? Poetry? Rules? How can that be? Well, when it comes right down to it, poetry is all about rules, usually those mandated by syntax as well as rules imposed by the poet, such as in forms like sonnets or sestinas. For beginning poets, a few limitations can help them avoid projects or techniques that are too challenging for those who haven’t mastered the basics yet. in fact, since this is the teaching-to-the-test generation, most of them have very limited exposure to either historic or current poetry, which means they don’t know what the basics are yet. Here are the general rules and some commentary:
General Rules for Poems Assignments (more…)