James Richardson

James Richardson Q&A on form (text)

James Richardson talks about determining what form a poem will take:
I feel like I’m at least a semi-formalist poet—my line is often within hearing distance of iambic, I like the shapings of (usually half-) rhyme, I’m attracted to quatrains (though I also write prose aphorisms and several kinds of free verse). But I’d never, say, sit down with the explicit of intention of writing a sestina or sonnet or villanelle and then start “filling it up.” For me, that would engage the Will in a way that would be fatal to a poem (also I find sestinas unutterably tedious!) I’d force it, I wouldn’t be convinced. For me, a poem condenses from a cloud of “stuff”—thoughts, feelings, actual notes—over a long period of time, like a star from a nebula, and without a lot of manhandling. The form assembles itself, though I usually have a pretty good idea from the initial feeling, and from the first phrases/lines I get, which of my personal forms its going to be in.