Of Poetry and Free Verse
Before describing my thought on the matter, I want to make this preface: I do not consider myself a better poet than writers whose form is primarily free verse. I do respect them and value their insight a great deal.
My issue with free verse is that its over used and terribly misunderstood. Speaking in generalities, the majority of free verse, by far, that I’ve read is better presented as prose without the line breaks. To give them credit, free verse is much harder to write well than more structured forms form of poetry, whose form lends itself also to the meaning of the words.
The truth is that I like free verse very much. The book of Psalms (as presented in the authorized version) is one of the best examples of exemplary poetry without a defined rhyme or structured rhythm. But there are some distinct differences between the Psalms and much of the free verse writtentoday. The Psalms are full of poetic devices such as alliteration, parallelism, and cadence. Most free verse (at least the ones I’ve read) are devoid of many of such devices, especially cadence. The lack of cadence makes it difficult to read and thus enjoy. The majority are better served when presented without line breaks as a coherent paragraph, making them much better prose than verse.
For Further Reading:
Robert Frost’s definition of free verse
Definition of free verse as prose written in cadence
on free verse and poetry
On the KJV and Poetry: