About the Poems
by Shane McCrae
I don't write free verse poems—mostly because I can't. But I am interested in the musical effects achievable with free verse. Several of these poems are the results of my attempts to create a meter that is simultaneously formal and free, and to think, for musical purposes, at the level of the verse paragraph rather than the line. As a consequence, the metrically important unit is the verse paragraph—e.g., a traditional sonnet has seventy feet (5 feet per line x 14 lines), and since what matters when writing in this way is the total number of feet (and, of course, the poems do rhyme, though some of the rhymes are very slant, and don't follow a regular pattern), individual line lengths can vary, so long as the thing has 70 feet at the end. "In No Place," for instance, is made up of three sonnets, or 210 feet. Where a line "ends" metrically is denoted by a "/" if that point falls anywhere other than the actual end of a line, and generally where each new line "begins" metrically is denoted with a capital letter (the only exception being when a line begins mid-word).