top of page
  • Writer's pictureAutumn Sullivan

Freedom within the form

Sophomore year of college, I took a poetry class with the great Nicholas Samaras.

Each week, we studied a different form of poetry. Sonnets, ballads, blank verse, haiku, ghazal, villanelle (my favorite).

Some of us chafed at the restrictions of these poetry forms. Shouldn't poetry be wild, ephemeral, free of boundaries?

"Before you can break a rule with intention, you have to first understand the purpose of the rules," he answered.

Then he said the words that would change the way I looked at writing, and at rules, Hell, at LIFE, forever.

"Find the freedom within the form."


As creatives, we like to think that rules and structure do not serve us. That our "Art" transcends such earthly necessities.

I say, Not so. If you do not understand the laws of physics, your sculpture will fall. If you DO, however, you can build something that balances on the head of a pin.

Without understanding the structure of poetry, this amazing form of art and communication may be entirely closed off to you. Or, if you write poetry, you may find that your poem's meaning, it's message, runs away from the page, like a deer in the forest.

It's there -- no wait, it's gone.

This applies to creative work that we do for our day jobs, too.

Need to create a blog graphic? Stretch your creative muscle. You can do ANYTHING .... It only has to fit the size of a blog image.

Writing the blog itself? You know the structure. How can you PLAY inside that sandbox?

The structure is what allows you to play. Anything goes within those four walls.

Color inside the lines, yes, but make your elephant purple and your sky pink and all the flowers rainbows.

Follow the rules until you KNOW it is time to break one.

Embrace the structures that serve your creative process.

Find freedom within the forms.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page