Some poetry-writing exercises frontload form, asking students to compose, for example, a sonnet about a pre-chosen subject, or a sestina using a prescribed set of end-words. In this book, we will not guide you through the structure of a sonnet or list the compositional rules for sestinas and villanelles, ballads and ghazals, and so on. Countless texts devoted to such classificatory impulses already exist. Rather, we contend that the deferral of form actually proves more fruitful than deference to it, since the traditions of formal verse can sometimes breed a premature drive to completion and final polish. ‘Form and Structure’, the title of this chapter, is thus somewhat ironic, since we have already encouraged you to remain committedly detached, to trust your messy junkyard of phrases and imagery, and to ‘ride your drafts’, instead of rushing to formalize or structure your writing.
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