Saturday, August 01, 2009

Poet Harry E. Gilleland Jr. Explains Storoem

In poetry circles Harry Gilleland is best know for pioneering the storoem form and naming it. He once contributed to my Sharing with Writers newsletter and I thought the poets among you might be interested in his work and take note of how he manages to promote his poetry by contributing to the poetry community and poetry in general. Naturally, I had to ask him to be a guest blogger for my Sharing with Writers blog.

My love for poetry sprang from my reading the poetry of Poe, Tennyson,and Frost, all of which are noted for rhyming poetry. Therefore, when I started writing poetry, I wrote rhyming verse, not getting into writing free-verse until later. (One valuable website for writing
rhyming poetry that I discovered early-on is RhymeZone, where you can get suggestions for rhyming words to complete your endrhymes.)

Some poetry critics strongly believe all poetry should be short and concise, usually concentrating on one specific item. I have never thought this. Sometimes I like for my poems to tell a complete story. From when I initially started writing poetry, I would tell a more complete story, but in doing so I used various poetic techniques, such as stanzas (usually quatrains), end-rhymed lines, enjambment,alliteration, imagery, extended metaphor, etc. not usually found in prose.

My lines tended to be longer than most poems typically have,and I did not usually employ a set syllable count. The end result was that my poems resembled prose or narrative poems, I used more poetic techniques than one finds in a typical prose poem and they were longer, less purely poetic lines than a typical narrative poem.

Readers would ask me what I call my poetry. I started out calling my style a
story-poem, and eventually I coined a new term “storoem” (stor- plus

Some readers immediately liked my storoem format, while others initially resisted it. Today most readers accept the format with little difficulty.

In fact, one of my early storoems, from “The Old Salty Poems," recently won second place (and a $1,000 prize) in the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest, a prestigious international contest. Contest judge John H. Reid said, "Harry Gilleland's 'The Old Salty Poems' belongs to a tradition that has almost died out—the character/narrative poem.

Although easily the most popular genre of poetry in the 19th century, character/narrative poems were supplanted by Eliot, Spender, Pound and a whole host of their 20th century disciples. It has often been suggested that poetry would still be as popular and best-selling with the masses today, if mainstream verse had continued in the character/narrative vein.

"Certainly such a delightful, vastly entertaining throwback as 'The Old Salty Poems' lends a great deal of credence to this idea. I picture copies for sale at my local Borders and see crowds of customers picking up the book and marveling at the free-flowing skill and expertise with which Gilleland has brought such a charming tale to
vibrant, poetic life." (see

Since my storoems tend to have more lines and longer lines than many poems do, I found that the use of enjambment aids the flow or the smooth reading of the storoem. (For an explanation of enjambment and its effect, see .) I never have understood why some readers believe every line should be end-stopped. Once a new reader of my storoems reads a few examples, he/she usually
grows to enjoy the storoem form.

To summarize the storoem form:

1) Tells a more complete story than the typical poem.

2) Has stanzas, usually quatrains, throughout.

3) Lines are end-rhymed, making a storoem a rhymed poem. Rhyming
pattern may vary but typically is abab.

4) Line lengths and word count or syllable count are variable, with no
set pattern or rhythm. Lines tend to be longer than in a typical
narrative poem.

5) Various poetic techniques are employed, including but not limited
to alliteration, assonance, enjambment, repetition, imagery, metaphor,
rhyme, etc so that lines are more poetic than found in a typical prose

PS: Please come back on August 3rd when I'll post a couple of Harry's stoerem as examples...with his permission, of course!-----
Harry Gilleland is a well-known, award-winning poet who has published three
books of poetry
to date. They are “Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man," a Reader Views Literary Award winner (Honorable Mention in Fiction, Poetry category.) He blogs at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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