Introducing Link Poetry

Poetry has had so many forms over the years, each with its own purpose, strengths, and weaknesses. What even is a form, though? Perhaps these arbitrary rhyme schemes and meters and guidelines are simply a way to play with words. A game played between professional poets, to see who can produce the most heart-touching poem without breaking the rules of the engagement. A sort of duel that your contemporaries challenge you to.

Today, I propose the birth of a new form, with incredibly simple rules. There is no meter, no rhyme scheme, no stylistic barrier to entry. I propose the invention of link poetry. However, if you will indulge me, I’d like to quickly mention some of the past forms that inspired it.

I speak, especially, of forms where the underlying themes are continuity and connection. In chain rhyme, such as in a terza rima or the Rubaiyat, a rhyme scheme will purposely carry over into the next stanza. Anadiplosis, though an ugly word, describes a beautiful technique in which the last word of a clause is repeated in a following clause for a pleasant effect. It needs to be repeated to make sense, a sense that is somehow poetic, yet only poetic if you dare to notice it.

The biggest, most notable predecessor of this new form is loop poetry. A fairly simple form. The last word of the first line becomes the first word of the next line, and so on. There are also a few rules. Loop poetry has a set rhyme scheme of alternating end rhymes, written in quatrains. There’s also a variation that mixes couplets and quatrains, with a unique rhyme scheme of its own.

And yes, the noble loop plays.
Plays and has a charm.
Charm that might be lost on I.
I see a bit of harm.

Limited to quatrains?
Quatrains and couplets only?
Only a poet seeks out freedom!
Freedom begs sensation!

So let us introduce a young rival to the loop poem, a slightly bastardized form that throws away the walls and keeps only the best elements. Let us discuss link poetry.

What is Link poetry?

Link poetry uses the most interesting rule from loop poetry and turns it into the central focus, the MVP, the star of the show. The idea of the last word becoming the first word is fun. It’s interesting, just restrictive enough to lead to some creative wordplay, and delightfully rhythmic. But it’s the only rule we need, so let’s make it the main attraction.

First, you throw away the mandatory rhyme schemes. Some poets prefer non-rhyming poetry. Some prefer to come up with their own rhyme schemes. Sure, rules lead to creative bends, but too many rules can be over-restrictive. It limits who is and is not welcome to join the party.

Next, let’s vary up the stanzas. Quatrains? Couplets? Are we in the dark ages? Give me tercets, octaves, and bring me your stanzas of every length. Build up a castle of uneven walls, a wall of oddly-sized bricks, and bricks made up of the strangest mud you can find. Poetry was born to be free, to be uneven, to be strange.

Oh, but that all makes it too easy, doesn’t it? Fine. Then let’s steal a small aspect of chain rhyme for a moment. I hereby decree that EVERY line of a link poem must start with the word that the previous line ended with, even if it’s in an entirely new stanza.

And there we have it. The link poem is open for business.

So now we find for us a new form.
Form up your oddities and rejoice.
Rejoice that you are free,
free to live, to love, to be.
Be as poets were meant to.

To write link poetry is to connect.
Connect each line, first to last.
Last all the longer for it.

It is not so hard, after all.
All that is needed is to imagine.
Imagine your uneven castle wall.
Wall away almost every rule.
Rule your new kingdom, here.

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