In a recent post here at OctPoWriMo, Morgan mentioned Shadow Poetry, a resource that I return to frequently when I'm in the process of composing a new poem. The Shadow Poetry site provides simple, detailed descriptions of both traditional and invented poetry forms along with several examples of each. Sometimes I approach the site with an idea or an image that I want to write about and I begin sifting through the different forms until a single line emerges in my mind that happens to fit one of the forms. Other times, I'll choose a form that I've never tried before (look for a prompt on this idea soon!) and I'll challenge myself to try to write within that framework. Instead of straining my brain for words that rhyme, if the form happens to include a rhyming element, I jump to my other favorite tool - Rhyme Zone.
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I enter the last word of the first line in the Rhyme Zone engine and am given a list of multiple words that rhyme (or nearly rhyme) with it. From there, I can begin to play with rhyming lines. Sometimes I will come up with several lines that could work. I say each of them aloud with the initial line until I find the one that sounds best TO ME. (I capitalize here to remind myself that I am not writing for anyone other than myself. It takes the pressure off just a bit!) Once I have a couple of lines and the page (screen?) is no longer blank, the words begin to flow, gaining momentum as they go.
Many people are hung up on the idea that poems have to rhyme and have to follow some sort of formula. This is not the case. Poetry can be free verse. However, if you find yourself in need of a framework or if you just want to challenge yourself to try something you haven't tried before, Shadow Poetry and Rhyme Zone can quickly become two favorite tools in your poetry tool box!