Name: Free Verse Poetry
Definition: Free verse is a form of poetry that refrains from consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern. Poets have explained that free verse, despite its freedom, is not free. Although free verse requires no meter, rhyme, or other traditional poetic techniques, a poet can still use them to create some sense of structure.
Purpose: Free verse is just another form of poetry. While some poems use meter, rhyme, or pattern to get ideas and themes across free verse usually encompasses other techniques such as sound and the flow of more natural speech. There are so many ways to say something in poetry; it just depends on how you want to say it. Many believe that free verse is not as limiting as other forms and can handle a wider range of creativity.
Audience: Free verse poetry can be written in any form, for any audience that the author deems fit at the time.
Conventions: Free verse is a form of poetry that is free of any conventions. Although free verse requires no meter, rhyme, or other traditional poetic techniques, a poet can still use them to create some sense of structure. Because of a lack of predetermined form, free verse poems have the potential to take truly unique shapes. The poet is given more license to express and, unrestrained by traditional bounds, has more control over the development of the poem. This could allow for a more spontaneous and essentially individualizing factor.
Summary: Walt Whitman is often celebrated as the first free verse poet in English. However, free verse in English has a longer history and possibly an even longer past. Free verse is said to have originated in the late 19th century with poets such as Arthur Rimbaud and Jules LaForgue. These poets wanted a type of poetry that was free of any conventions so “Vers Libre” was used to describe this change in French Poetry. The purpose of this change was for the French Poets to change the restrictions that poetry had at the time and to re-create the rhythms of natural speech.

Famous authors who have shaped and changed the way we look at free verse poetry include: Walt Whitman, Robert Graves, Ezra Pound, T. S. Elliot, William Carlos Williams, and Marianne Moore. One famous book that has been attributed to free verse writing and poetry is the Kings James translation of the Bible, particularly the Song of Solomon and the Psalms.

Annotated Bibliography

Douma, Michael, curator. “Natural forms.” Poetry through the Ages. 2008. Institute for Dynamic Educational Development. 1 January 2008.

This article shows many different examples of free verse poetry. Free verse poetry comes in many different shapes and forms, so there is not a typical sample that can be produced. I choose this sample because I wanted something that would show many different varieties of free verse poetry. I learned from this sample that I need not to confine my writing to one particular style. I need to venture out and start writing more outside my comfort zone.

Foreman, Katherine. (1996). Free verse poetry: awake. Retrieved from

This article shows many different free verse poetry samples. These samples range from long to short; simple to complex; and free form to classical style. I choose this sample because just as with the other sample chosen, these samples provide an example of the way that free verse should be written. I learned that although free verse poetry has no real rhyme and meter, it can tend to be one of the hardest genres of poetry to write.

Graves, Robert. (2010). Famous poets and poems. Retrieved from

This article is a classic example of free verse poetry written by a famous author. This sample is one of many different types of free verse poems that could be seen throughout this genre. I choose this sample because it gives readers a classic view of how free verse poetry was written many years ago. This sample is a classic piece that will stand the test of time. As with all samples that I choose, this sample gives me a greater look into the many different forms that this genre of poetry comes in.

Bibliography of Resources Rhythm, Rhyme, Results Free Verse Poems Poetry Through the Ages EHow

CCGPS Instructional Activity Compare and Contrast Free Verse Poetry
Activity 1

Grade Level 7th CCPGS
Reading Informational (RI)
ELACC7RI17: Compare and contrast a text to and audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words.)

Skills/Concepts for Students:
  • Define and understand the meaning of the word poetry, especially free verse poetry
  • Identify unique characteristics of the poetry genre: free verse poetry
  • Practice poetry writing skills such as rhythm, rhyming, and descriptive vocabulary
  • Follow the writing process to create original poetry

Strategies for Teachers:
  • Provide a catalyst for open discussion within the classroom
  • Introduce students to what poetry is, the different types of poetry, and how to determine they writing styles
  • Choose examples from poetry which will grab the students attention
  • Use technology to bring the elements of the project together

Sample Instructional Activity:

Purpose of Activity: Compare and contrast written poetry to its auditory form.

Resources: Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”, Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman”

Activity Steps: Total time: 45 minutes
  1. Divide students in groups of 4; and, give them a copy of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” and Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman.”
  2. Give the student 10 minutes to read both pieces of poetry.
-Make note of what you think it is that these poems are saying. What does the author mean? What feelings or emotions does the piece evoke?
  1. Provoke response from students.
  2. Explain to students that when reading and writing poetry, the writer writes how they feel and what are experiencing at any given time.
  3. Explain the definition of free verse poetry, and that it has no rhyme or rhythm.
  4. Next, instruct students to continue with their note taking, because now they are going to hear a recording of the authors reading their poem.
  5. Explain that just because a writer writes a poem; and, thinks that it will be interpreted one way; it is up to the reader and listener how they interpret the piece.
  6. Give the students 10 minutes to listen to the recordings of the poems assigned.
  7. Provoke response from students.
  8. Now allow the students to brainstorm within their groups about the similarities and differences and now see between the written text and the auditory recording.
  9. Discuss the differences and the similarities that are seen within the written text and listening of the text as a whole class.
  10. Based on the work that these individual groups have done; and, the information that they now know about poetry, allow them to write a poem (free verse) about any topic that they choose.
Remind the students, that these poems will be recorded and played back to the entire class, so that we can compare and contrast the written text and audio versions.

Next Class: Students/groups will edit and revise their poem; and, pick a group member who will act as narrator for the recording of their written poem.

Recommended Vocabulary for Teaching and Learning:
Compare audio video multimedia analyze auditory
Contrast poetry free verse rhyme rhythm similar

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I'm telling lies.I say,It's in the reach of my armsThe span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I'm a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me.I walk into a roomJust as cool as you please,And to a man,The fellows stand orFall down on their knees.Then they swarm around me,A hive of honey bees.I say,It's the fire in my eyes,And the flash of my teeth,The swing in my waist,And the joy in my feet.I'm a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me.Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.They try so muchBut they can't touchMy inner mystery.When I try to show themThey say they still can't see.I say,It's in the arch of my back,The sun of my smile,The ride of my breasts,The grace of my style.I'm a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me.Now you understandJust why my head's not bowed.I don't shout or jump aboutOr have to talk real loud.When you see me passingIt ought to make you proud.I say,It's in the click of my heels,The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,The need of my care,'Cause I'm a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me.

by Sojourner Truth
Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

CCGPS Instructional Activity Writing Process using Free Verse Poetry
Activity 2

Grade Level 7th CCPGS
Writing (W)
ELACC7W5: With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 7.)

Skills/Concepts for Students:

  • Define and understand the meaning of the word poetry, especially free verse poetry
  • Identify unique characteristics of the poetry genre: free verse poetry
  • Practice poetry writing skills such as rhythm, rhyming, and descriptive vocabulary
  • Follow the writing process to create original poetry
  • Understand how to review and revise their writing

Strategies for Teachers:

  • Introduce students to what poetry is, the different types of poetry, and how to determine they writing styles
  • Discuss and explain the steps of the writing process, and how they apply to poetry
  • Use technology to bring the elements of the project together

Sample Instructional Activity:

Purpose of Activity: Use the steps of the writing process to produce free verse poetry from pre-writing to publishing.

Resources: ABC’s of the writing process, Students imaginations

Activity Steps: Total time: 55 minutes

  1. Students have already learned what free verse poetry is.
  2. The students will write a description of something that interests them. This will be something that they know very well---their cat, dog, stuffed animal, shoes, pictures, etc.
  3. Students will evaluate the object that they have chosen and think about it. What makes it special? Does your dog have long ears that look like long socks? Write that. Do your running shoes light up when you run at night? Write that. What color are the lights? Where are they on your shoes? Pay attention to the little things, the details that make your shoes or the dog (or whatever the object you choose) or that picture on the wall different from something else. Don’t write that the dog is “nice” or the picture is “pretty.” Instead write this way, you are making a picture out of words.
  4. Now that the students have written a description about something that they know well, they will now write a description about something that is new to them. As the students write this new description, they will need to listen carefully to the sounds of the words they use, and their rhymes—but try not to rhyme. They will just concentrate on the picture that they see.
  5. Now that the students have their descriptions, they will use this to turn those observations into poetry.

Try not to rhyme. Just let the words and phrases come. Make sure that the poems read the way that the student intended for them to read.

  1. Now the students will exchange their poems with their peers for review.
  2. Once revision is complete, students will rewrite their poems to make sure it flows as desired

Next Class: Students will type their poems in the format assigned by the teacher for publication.

Recommended Vocabulary for Teaching and Learning:

Revision description multimedia poetry free verse rhythm

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Assessment of Student Learning: Free Verse Poetry

This assessment tool is used to evaluate poetry. The type of poetry that will be looked at here will be free verse poetry. This assessment should only be used once the concept of poetry has been introduced, explored, and evaluated. This would come at the end of a poetry unit to determine the student’s comprehension of the topic.

Exceeding Standards
Meeting Standards
Approaching Standards
Below Standards
Meaning and Originality
Poem is creative and original. It is evident that the poet put thought into their words and uniquely conveyed their ideas and emotions.
Poem is thoughtful and creative. A couple of phrases or ideas may be revisited, but the overall product is carefully written.
Most of the poem is creative, but appears to be rushed. This is evident in the poet's redundancy or use of clichés.
Poems appear to be thoughtless or rushed. Work is very repetitive, and ideas are unoriginal.
Sensory Details
Vivid, detailed images and intensely felt emotion make the poem come alive.
Clear sensory images are used to portray ideas or emotions
Some use of image, idea, or emotion
Difficult to visualize image or emotion
The poem is complete and follows its intended form.
The poem is written in its proper forms with a few mistakes.
The poem is somewhat written in its proper form.
The poem is not written in its proper form.
Proper use of English spelling and grammar is used consistently throughout each poem. Punctuation is utilized when necessary.
A couple of spelling or grammar mistakes are evident, but do not diminish the meaning of the poem. Punctuation is utilized when necessary.
The poet's intended meaning is confusing by several spelling or grammar errors. Punctuation may be misused.
There are numerous spelling or grammar errors, making the poems difficult to understand. Punctuation is used incorrectly.
Student’s work demonstrates a complete understanding of the assignment and goes beyond the requirements.
Student’s work demonstrates an understanding of the assignment.
Student’s work demonstrates some understanding of the assignment.
Student’s work lacks understanding of the assignment.

Teaching Poetry Article

Practicing Poetry: Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach