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The following is the Preface from my book, “A Poet’s Primer,” where I show would-be and current poets how to write utilizing new or classic poetic forms, such as English sonnets, haiku, kyrielles and almost 40 others. I also describe meter, rhyming and flow, as well as the importance of being poignant. At the bottom, I’ll leave a link to the book, in case you want to know more.


A Poet’s Primer- Preface

With rap, slam poetry and prose so popular these days, I set out to learn and master many of the oldest poetic forms that have been evolved through the centuries, some developed in or before the Middle Ages.  I learned some newer forms as well, and created my own format.

Forms can be based on a wide variety of patterns (or non-patterns), such as stanza and line counts, syllable counts, meter, rhyming scheme, theme and a “turn” or poignant finish.  The familiar haiku format of five, then seven, then five syllables in its three lines transcends meter and rhyme.  It requires a theme of nature or the seasons and may include a “cutting word,” which cuts the stream of thought during reading for any one of a variety of purposes.  An English sonnet, on the other hand, is fourteen lines, typically in three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a couplet (two-line stanza), which uses classic meter and a strict rhyming pattern.  A sonnet sometimes employs an unexpected turn, called a “volta,” that may change the feel or even the theme of the poem, and the final couplet often serves to sum up the subject or purpose of the poem in two lines.

One can only master these forms by employing them, both with successes and failures guiding the education process.  I’ll steal a quote often used by Robert Keim, the inventor of the blitz poem.  He intimates that poet Theodore Roethke once said, “Sometimes an apparent constraint can serve to free the imagination.”  To be confined by a stringent format forces a writer to think outside of their normal vocabulary, past cliché or colloquialism, and in so doing, may find passion or poignancy where it may otherwise have been lacking.  Often the difficulty is in employing a format that guides the reader to your point without their noticing, that flows from the lips without struggle and in the case of rhyming work, that they are as natural in speech as any conversation would be.  If you accomplish these things with your poem, you have indeed mastered the form.

My readers, students, friends and family who follow my poetry often ask, “You know so many forms, how do you choose one?”  My answer is always, “It depends.”  Truthfully, form, meter and rhyme schemes all play a part in the feel of a poem.

Sometimes I decide I haven’t written with a certain form for a while, or need to create an example for an article.  I am an “ekphrastic” poet, meaning I derive inspiration from a visual art, namely my photographs, so I might start by looking through my photos to find something whose inspiration somewhat matches the feel of the form on which I’ve pre-decided. 

Sometimes it’s the opposite- I am already inspired and look through the various formats at my fingertips until, hopefully, I find the form that most closely fits.

Occasionally that means looking up new forms I’ve yet to try, though that number is shrinking.  If I have a lot to say, or am telling a story, I’m not going to select haiku, a sijo or another very short form.  If it is serious or deep, I might not want to pick a limerick style or Dr. Seuss-like rhyming format.   Even so, I might start with one form and discard it for another part-way through.

In this primer I will describe over forty formats and I’ll try to bring a little history or explanation to them when I’m able.  I will also include examples of each, nearly all of which will have come from my own hand.


For more information about how to write in poetic form:
https://www.amazon.com/Poets-Primer-Jack-Huber-ebook/dp/B0041KKKWI


See my author page on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B003ZZYEF4

Remnants of a Glorious Past
Remnants of a Glorious Past

“Remnants of a Glorious Past”
Photo of the Week #29, selected in November, 2019

Bison once roamed well beyond the Midwest plains, millions having lived and fed on grasslands that ran from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. They are even reported to have inhabited a tract that ran east to the Atlantic as far north as New York and as far south as Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. This small herd was found grazing in Wyoming, but it’s easy to imagine the bison’s glorious past.

Interestingly, according to Britannica.com, there are no buffalo in North America, only two types of bison. “Contrary to the song “Home on the Range,” buffalo do not roam in the American West. Instead, they are indigenous to South Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo), while bison are found in North America and parts of Europe.”

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-remnants-of-a-glorious-pastp_art?IMID=168578eb-9947-4c2a-8c84-f1ec692bea1f


View this photo as artwork:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/imagedetail.aspx/fabe8d98-7089-43bd-bd63-0f85a1129a61/Col_Pencil_Remnants_of_a_Glorious_Past_P5180076_P


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

An Elevated Garden

An Elevated Garden
An Elevated Garden

“An Elevated Garden”
Photo of the Week #28, selected in November, 2019

High up in the Colorado Rockies is a popular hiking trail through Guanella Pass. This trail takes you to one of Colorado’s “Fourteeners,” Mount Bierstadt, and is laced with scenic views. I especially enjoy the wild alpine flower gardens, few and far between, scattered around the mountainous terrain.

When I first viewed this, one of my iconic Colorado shots, I wondered how a single purple “pioneer plant” came to take residence in this field of yellow “old man of the mountain” wildflowers. But then, after looking closely, I could see others far behind the yellow blooms near the green shrubs.

A quick note about alpine or tundra wildflowers from amylaw.blog: “[They’re] small. There just isn’t time in the short, high-altitude summer to get big, especially when flowers cost the plant so much in terms of energy. And they are spread far apart, to ensure that they get plenty of sun and water. So you’re not going to see meadows dense with flowers blowing in the wind.” You can see that this is a unique field of tundra flowers, larger but still separated within their field.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-an-elevated-gardendsc_art?IMID=f19daaf9-b390-4849-b3f6-3eaa44587eb2


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

An Icy Poudre River
An Icy Poudre River

“An Icy Poudre River”
Photo of the Week #27, selected in November, 2019

In the Northern Colorado Rockies runs a river through the famous, winding Poudre Canyon that stretches east from near the Continental Divide. This river truly has four seasons and is subject to widespread flooding in the spring, swift and calm rafting flows in the summer and fall, and frozen areas in the cold winter. This is my favorite photo of the “Cache la Poudre River” — I could stare at it for hours.

The Poudre (“poo-der” by locals) Canyon runs from Fort Collins, north of Denver, to Walden and North Park, approaching the Western Slope. It is a drive to remember, filled with narrow, rocky sections of the canyon and beautiful river scenes.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-an-icy-poudre-riverdsc_art?IMID=1dc39c4d-cd57-45d3-996f-7c281d038c48


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

The White Cliffs of Martha's Vineyard
The White Cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard

“The White Cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard”
Photo of the Week #26, selected in November, 2019

Martha’s Vineyard is an island located south of Cape Cod that is known for being a summer community for the affluent. We were very pleased to tour it by bus, after a misty ferry ride, during one memorable visit to the area, though it was the usual dreary Massachusetts day at the time. The far eastern point of the island provided this viewpoint.

When we visited England several years ago, we never made it to the famous White Cliffs of Dover, but the Vineyard provided similar scenery. However, the actual name of this New England landmark is the Gay Head Cliffs. Within the white and colorful layers of clay, fossil bones of whales, camels and wild horses have been found, if the tourist rumors are true.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-the-white-cliffs-of-marthas-vineyard_art?IMID=c9f26e95-04b6-48d2-bd01-7e07531bc92c


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

An Acorn Woodpecker Prepares for Breakfast
An Acorn Woodpecker Prepares for Breakfast

“An Acorn Woodpecker Prepares for Breakfast”
Photo of the Week #25, selected in November, 2019

Acorn Woodpeckers can be found throughout the Northern California and Oregon coast, so it was no surprise that there was a large family of them in our remote campground in Paicines, east of Monterey and Salinas, California. I saw them continually during our stay and was able to take a few photos of during my walks through the park. I particularly like this shot, taken just after the morning’s golden hour, as the sun highlights the woodpecker in the shadow of the tree branches.

Paicines is known for its vineyards and top-shelf wineries, nearby Pinnacles National Park and California condor viewing. Unfortunately, the summer after this photo was taken, wildfires decimated much of this part of California’s wine country. Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to return to see how much the area was affected.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-an-acorn-woodpecker-prepares-for-breakfast_art?IMID=8abc35f1-d787-4501-99d3-d07c3d3e2790


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

Sunken Boat Exposed by Drought
Sunken Boat Exposed by Drought

“Sunken Boat Exposed by Drought”
Photo of the Week #24, selected in October, 2019

Lake Mead is a large reservoir created by Hoover Dam at the Nevada/Arizona border, not far from Las Vegas. The current continuous drought has dropped the lake’s water level by over 160′ compared to its most recent high mark measured in 1990. This has caused the lake shore to draw back several hundred feet in places, exposing a myriad of items long thought lost. This boat was one of the more interesting of my finds there. I often wonder what caused this pleasure vessel to sink and how long ago that was.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-sunken-boat-exposed-by-drought–dsc_art?IMID=04ebd3ac-b983-4142-a6e1-e1a17dab4c9a


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

A Masterpiece Revealed
A Masterpiece Revealed

“A Masterpiece Revealed”
Photo of the Week #23, selected in October, 2019

Every once in a while, nature provides a combination of conditions that reveals something not often seen. In this case, the Midwest fog and high humidity early in the morning, a hard night’s work for a spider and my seldom-taken walk around the pond behind my house in Wichita, provided just that.

I especially like the small web nearby as another spider tried to take advantage of the open space left by the larger one.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-a-masterpiece-revealedp_art?IMID=30611213-9205-4f9f-8ba8-b4d7acec02c2


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

An Island Aglow in Maine
An Island Aglow in Maine

“An Island Aglow in Maine”
Photo of the Week #22, selected in October, 2019

From Week 21 to 22 we go from coast to coast… The view from Cadillac Mountain in Maine can be spectacular at sunrise and this bucket list item didn’t disappoint. As the sun rises over the islands and channels of Mount Desert Narrows, southeast of Bar Harbor, it makes for particularly beautiful photos. In this case, one such island glows in the morning fog.

Cadillac Mountain is one of more than twenty mountains on Mount Desert Island, and at 1,530 feet, it’s the highest point along the North Atlantic seacoast. Each day before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims make their way to Acadia National Park, eager to watch the the first sunrise in the United States that morning. When I was there, I joined well over a thousand such pilgrims.

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-an-island-aglow-in-mainedsc_art?IMID=bb9bbafd-3595-4f20-bf9f-f72cc4812a7f


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek

On Lookout Over the Pacific
On Lookout Over the Pacific

“On Lookout Over the Pacific”
Photo of the Week #21, selected in October, 2019

This photo was taken near Klamath, California, overlooking the mouth of the Klamath River at the Pacific Ocean. The cliffs overlooking the river and ocean are dramatic, hundreds of feet above the waters. The Klamath is known for its beautiful scenery, high-class rapids and wildlife, including a wide variety of rapters.

Far from being a bird of prey, this wren, surveying its domain, seemed to pose for me, even waiting for me to set up my camera until I could snap the pic. You gotta love birds…

Here’s my photo on Imagekind:
https://www.imagekind.com/-on-lookout-over-the-pacificdsca_art?IMID=5c66c055-6a68-47f7-bc03-d446e6f68631


View this photo as artwork:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/imagedetail.aspx/5e2b58dd-8d46-442c-ab01-4c263c1b023a/Oil_On_Lookout_Over_the_Pacific_DSC04107a


View all of my Photos of the Week here on Imagekind:
http://huberjack.imagekind.com/store/Images.aspx/385a532b-9a90-4b4f-8c67-b25c1afa1c07/PhotosoftheWeek