Blog, Poetry, Tutorial

No Time for Rhyme? Tips for Writing Free Verse

Hello. So, before I start the post, let me give you a few updates. First, I did not get a call about either of the two interviews I gave last month. I am now taking a break from applying for copywriting jobs, and focussing on applying for teaching jobs instead. This is something I do once every two or three months, to keep my morale up and avoid boredom. If you recently got a job in either of the two fields, please let me know what you did right. Haha. Second, my husband got the most unique 40th birthday present – a positive Covid-test. He is fine, thankfully, and so are my kids and I. There’s just been a lot of self-isolation going on, so I couldn’t post for a while. Third, I closed my RedBubble shop. Despite good feedback, and intermittent Instagram promotions, I did not manage to get a lot of follows or make even a single sale. Since I made two sales on Etsy, I wanted to make sure I’m able to spend enough time promoting Etsy, rather than trying to juggle two things art once.

Now, back to the topic. So, I love rhyme, but I do not always have the time or energy for it. On days like these, and depending on the subject matter, I like to write free verse. Free verse is verse free from the bounds of fixed meter patterns. So, simplistically put, a poem without a consistent rhyme scheme. Now, how do you add rhythm to a poem without using rhyming words? These are some of the tricks I use:

  1. Title – Make the title of the poem poetic. Use a poetic device in the title itself, or make it imaginative. Let me give you the example of my poem “When Two Become One”. I wrote it a while back, after a minor argument with my husband. Yes, that’s what poets do! They write a poem, no matter what the situation. So, this title portrays an image of coming together and has a romantic ring to it.
  2. Alliteration – Alliteration is repeating the consonant sound at the beginning of a few consecutive words in a sentence. For example, take a line from my poem. “I take pleasure in pleasing people…” Do you notice the repetition of the “p” sound? That is alliteration. It emphasizes an idea and creates a good listening effect, don’t you agree?
  3. Imagery – Creating pictures with words, particularly those that have a sensory effect, are particularly effective in making poetry poetic. “Let’s melt all our ironies into a single paradox…Let’s walk hand in hand.” These are examples of using words to create an image in the reader’s mind. Let the reader see that you’re walking hand in hand. Let the reader feel the ironies melting into each other like a mocha chocolate bomb melting under hot milk in a mug…Oops! Sorry, foodie alert!
  4. Idioms – Idioms are groups of words that have come to possess a meaning in the collective mindset that is different from their literal meaning. “Let’s walk hand in hand towards the evening of our lives.” Here, the evening of our lives means old age, a meaning that literature has popularized, over the years.
  5. Repetition – This is my favourite device, especially while writing free verse. Repeat a word, a phrase or a line and notice the effect it creates. It can help drive a point home, while also creating a unique listening effect. It is used quite commonly in popular songs, as well. Can you think of a favourite song that plays the same line over and over? Doesn’t that line stick to your memory more easily than the other lines, playing in your mind like a broken record?
  6. Dramatic effect – A little exaggeration of emotion, a little bit of word play – techniques such as these create a dramatic effect that works well in poetry. “By an unknown twist of fate…” is used to describe something as mundane as a husband and wife getting used to each other after a few years of living together, in my poem. Also, pay attention to flow by using lines of varied lengths and dividing a sentence into lines such that it sounds rhythmic.

What are some of the techniques you use to make your free verse poetic? Do you like rhyme better or free verse, both as a writer and as a reader? Let me know through the comments section of the post. If you’d like to participate in a one-on-one poetry workshop, get in touch through my contact page. I also offer poetry editing and proofreading services. If you’d like to buy the poem discussed in this post as a scroll, please visit my Etsy shop or the Shop on this website for pricing details.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog, Poetry

What I Mean When I say I’m a Writer by Birth

So, if you’ve read my bio, you know I’ve been writing since the age of 5. What exactly does that mean, though? Did I scribble a few words on the page? Or was it an actual poem? See for yourself:

A Rough Translation of the Poem I wrote at Age 5

I wrote these lines in Hindi on the last page of my notebook. I remember this distinctly. I’m still amazed I didn’t use rhyme for this, but it was probably because it seemed too hard at that age. The poem went something like this:

Once upon a time, in a village,

There was a king, who was like a step-king (Cinderella was my favourite story, at the time).

He was extravagant, but did not share anything with his people.

One day, the king died.

All his soldiers cried for him. (Deep and moving, don’t you think? My thoughts were always on the negative side, I guess.)

The queen said, “I should die, too.

My husband is no more, so I don’t have

Any purpose in life anymore.” (Hmmm, Patriarchal much!?)

Smile

This one is in English. I wrote it when I was in Grade 6. It is more positive, kid-friendly and…it rhymes!

A smile is something lovely,

It is indeed very cute,

It is as sweet as someone

Playing on a flute. (I was BIG on rhyme at the time, did I mention that?)

It looks very good

On children’s face,

When they have an adventure

To some exciting place. (I was big on adventure, too, it seems.)

Smile, smile, smile, (I still love repetition – excellent device)

It is a lovely word.

It is present on children’s face

All over the world. (how marvellous!)

Work of Life

I wrote this in Grade 8. It is in English, too, and it rhymes. This and Smile were published in a local newspaper- big achievement for me.

Mother says, Study all the time,

Book of math or book of rhyme,

Brother says, What’s the time?

Brother, Brother 2 o’clock.

Sister says, Give grains to cock!
(It seems like I just let my imagination run wild on this one. I have no brother and we had no poultry in the house, except what was in the fridge, so I have no idea what I’m talking about here. My mother was always asking me to study, though, so that part is accurate.)

Father says, Polish my shoes. (Papa used to polish my shoes, at this age, so imagination at work again.)

Food is ready for the goose. (Nope, no goose either.)

Mother, Father, Husband, Wife,

This is the only work of life. (My priorities were always set, I guess. Also, is it really deep or am I just conceited?)

The Carefree River

I wrote this one in middle school, too, but it was in Hindi. This is a rough translation.

I am a carefree river,

I flow and flow all day long,

Morning or evening,

Day or night.

Even when I see a beautiful sight,

I can’t stop to admire it.

I see everything, I absorb everything,

Then, I go and find my destination

In the deep blue ocean.

I narrate everything I’ve seen on the way to him.

He tries to make me understand,

That my life is nothing more than

Flowing endlessly. (When my family read this one, they knew I was going to be a writer.)

I love that my parents always encouraged me to realize and work on developing my passion for writing. They always took me to book fairs, got me pens, notebooks, cute stationery – to indulge in my love for writing. We were always reading literature, discussing it – and that really helped me grow as a writer and as a person. I’m proud of my journey and I’m proud of the role my family has played in that journey.

Would you like to tell me about your journey? Comment below or contact me through my Contact page. You can find prints of my poems on my Etsy shop, and a few downloads on the Free Downloads page.

Poetry

A Mother’s Promise

Dearest D and D,

I don’t remember when I took

My place in my mother’s womb.

I have no recollection of how

I grew there, took on the human form,

Getting used to it, day after day.

My childhood and adolescence

Are a blur, as well, of memories

I’d cherish forever, and some

I’d rather forget; Of dreams

Fulfilled and Unfulfilled.

The only vivid memory I have

Is of the day I found out

That two pieces of my heart

Had set out to make a cozy nest

In my womb, only to leave it again,

To find their way into my arms,

And right back into my heart.

I promise that I will treasure all memories

Made since that day – how you grew in my womb,

Took on the human form, and perfected it

Beyond the realm of my imagination,

Day after day.

I will preserve memories of your

Childhood, adolescence, youth –

Of every moment since that blessed day,

When two pieces of my heart

Made their way into my arms

And right back into my grateful heart.

Love always,

Your Mother

I recently wrote this poem for my kids and decided to share it with some of the beautiful mothers around me. You know why? I did it because in running around our kids, getting anxious about their health, safety and comfort, mothers often forget to sit down, look into their hearts and express their unconditional, undying love for their kids through words, not tears or a hopeless smile.


Want to Gift This Poem to a Mama?

If you would like to buy a framed/unframed poster of this poem for yourself, or a mother in your life, please visit my Etsy shop.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

Opening an Etsy Shop in Canada

Hello, I’ve been holding off on this post because I was hoping to make at least one sale before I introduced my shop. However, I guess it’s going to be a Ta-duh for my Etsy shop for now, rather than a Ta-Da. Pardon my sense of humour. After facing a few rejections and disillusionment-s, I guess it becomes important to laugh at yourself once in a while, doesn’t it?

Steps to open an Etsy Shop

So, before I introduce my Etsy shop, let me tell you how I created it. If you have a profile on Etsy, just go to the Sell on Etsy option and create listings. If not, search Etsy Canada on Google, or I could just give you the link, since you’re already here. Either way, once you reach their site, register to open your account.

Once you have registered, click on your profile, and select the Sell on Etsy option. You will have to fill in the details and complete all of the steps, and you’ll be good to go. It is a good idea to think of a shop name, billing options, images for a few listings, along with product dimensions, your choice of delivery options or files with suitable titles in case of digital products, before you start this process, so that you can complete it smoothly. Each listing costs around $0.20-0.25, and can be renewed manually or automatically, based on your preference.

Steps for opening the Etsy shop

You can then promote your shop through social media, or even choose to place ads on Etsy. You can choose your daily budget for ads, too, and then just cancel it if it’s not working out for you. You can also choose the options on the shop dashboard to offer promotions, sales or discounts to people who have your items in their basket. It is all pretty straightforward, so you’ve got this.

Registering a business name in Ontario

I even registered my business name before opening my shop on Etsy, just to be on the safe side, but I don’t believe it is something you HAVE to do. If you’re in Ontario, it costs around $60 and it is super easy to register online. Just search “how to register a business name in Ontario” on Google. Go to Ontario.ca, and complete the steps. You’ll get an email when you’re through. It took me less than an hour, so you can decide if this works for you.

My Etsy Shop

This is the link to my Etsy shop. It’s been a little over a month since I opened it, and as you can see I haven’t made a single sale yet. However, I’m hopeful that it will pick up eventually, so it’s all good. Since I opened the Etsy shop, I have received

  1. A lot of views
  2. A lot of clicks
  3. A lot of “Favourites”
  4. A LOT of Facebook and Instagram ads offering to teach me how Etsy sales can go from 0 to hundreds in no time

When I get an order, you can be sure I’ll post it here! So sit tight and watch this space, because I might just click on one of the magical Facebook/Instagram ads one of these days and my sales may just skyrocket overnight. Until then, stay tuned for my next post, written as as part of a series of writings for Women’s Day.

Follow my blog, if you would like updates about posts. Click here for free downloads, or here to get in touch.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021