Walt Whitman Poetry Writing Style

Try your hand at writing a Whitman-style poem. You don’t have to be as long-winded as he was and you certainly don’t have to devote your life to it! But try your hand at using his style of writing a catalog (list) as he did in stanzas 15 and 16 or in the unique style of really any of his stanzas built on a unified theme. Remember some of the stylistic structures noted in this section: Long line lengths Free verse–no rhymes Repetition of patterns (each line usually begins with a type of person and is followed by a verb describing what that person is doing and perhaps other descriptions). Each line ends with a comma rather than a period, marking the unity of the diverse whole. Diversity is emphasized–from young to old, from president to the prostitute. You don’t need to take Whitman’s subject matter–America. Instead think of a place that you know well and that is filled with variety. It could be a school, your workplace, your neighborhood, a sports team. Any group of people. For that matter, it could be a collection of things or ideas–books on your shelf, tv shows in your “library,” or video games on the market. Another great idea might be the variety of reactions people are experiencing during the Pandemic. The options are limitless. Let your creative juices flow. What will make a good poem vs. a mediocre poem? Originality Repetition of pattern (even if it varies a bit from Whitman’s) Punctuation that indicates unity in diversity (commas) Strong word choices that create a picture in the mind’s eye. Striking variety of individuals Enough lines and images to leave a strong impression (20-25). Somehow you’ll need to make sure your reader knows what you’re cataloging!

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