Poetry Romantic Verse Light Verse Theological Verse Other Verse

My Verse Writings

I have sporadically written a few works in verse; the extant works' completion dates range from shortly after 1984 to July 2020. (I think only one completed work has been lost from this period, a shortish parallel of the Book of Job with the contrast that the protagonist is guilty (and not suffering externally) and the friends are encouraging.)

To moderate page length and provide some separation of interests, the writings are divided into four categories: romantic verse, theological verse, light verse, and other verse. The categories are not strictly distinct in nature as some works classified as romantic have significant Christian content, some works not classified as light verse have significant elements of humor, and some theological verse has significant romantic content.

Within each category, the works are ordered by completion date and comments are attached to each work. (The comments vary significantly in length, depth, and focus. Some comments present more information about my perception of how form and sound interact with the sense, though effects can be subtle and (desired) causation may be associated with (perceived) correlation; other comments focus more on the content and its significance to me.)

My Formal Preferences

Both for reading and writing I tend to prefer traditional formal poetry. For reading, this preference may come partially from correlation (or assumed correlation) of sentimentality and idealism with formal verse (which is a somewhat natural correlation as such are less modern orientations) as well as an aesthetic preference for order and ornament over expression and ambiguity. For writing, in addition to the aesthetic preference and habit (even when I do not use accentual-syllabic meter and end-rhyme, my writing tends to have more sound-play ornamentation that seems common in modern free verse), I also find that form helps me find images and phrasings.

In my writing, I also like to try different forms, in part for the challenge, in part to learn something of the feel of different forms. My favorite unusual form is probably analyzed rhyme (e.g., "queen/lift/sequin/leafed") since such is both a more constraining form and one that has a less artificial feel than strong conventional rhyme. The former aspect seems to draw out unusual images and word choices while the latter seems to counterbalance my tendency toward more frequent use of sound-play.

Modifying Others' Poetry

My formal preferences occasionally draw me to change others' poetry to more nearly match my preferences. This is not a reliable behavior. It seems to depend on a sense of permission and a motivation for making changes. A friend sharing informally, even if making not indication that comments much less criticism is expected, or a fragment, even if I know that the work has been completed — such gives some sense of permission. Motivation can come from "unnecessary" metrical irregularities, when a straightforward change would "fix" the meter, and from attachment or investment in the work.

This forcing of my preferences on another's writing would make me a bad editor for someone who is less confident in their writing, especially if our tastes differ substantially. Aside from my own pleasure, such modifications could be useful for seeing potential for improvement (or even just appreciation of artifice or tone whose sense or sound the modifications wrongfully work against). One danger of technically good suggestions for improving a work is muting the author's voice.

I will post some examples to show the kinds of changes that I am inclined to make.

Poetry Readings

I have presented two public poetry reading: Love Sonnets: 33 Selections from Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Sources and Behold Your God. The first, in celebration of 2017 National Poetry Month, was at the Silver Spring (Maryland) Public Library. The second was held 21 July 2018 at my church (Wallace Presbyterian Church).

Although I enjoyed both, I doubt that I will do another such public reading any time soon. The effort required is considerable (selecting the works, making arrangements for a place and time, selecting and managing refreshments, advertising, practicing the readings, etc.) and the benefit somewhat modest. I would like to present a variation of Love Sonnets (with the addition of one of my own sonnets) for Valentine's Day sometime but that is not likely before 2022.

I do hope to record readings of the selections presented at the public readings to distribute to friends and acquaintances, and I also want to record some works for Librivox. I would also like to record my own writings, hopefully providing an exception to one librarian's advice to avoid works recorded by the author.