What Is The New Formalism In American Poetry

What is the New Formalism in American Poetry?

The New Formalism, often called the “New Formal Poetry,” is a term coined to describe a modern style of American poetry. This movement, which has been powerfully fueled by the internet and digital technology, utilizes the traditional poetic devices such as meter, rhyme, and stanza form to create new and innovative works. It is in direct contrast to the liberal formless style of poetry that has become common in the writing of the contemporary literary scene. New formalism seeks to bring American poetry back to its roots, reinstating the structure, formalism, and craftsmanship that has been lost in present day culture.

The main characteristic of New Formalism is the deliberate attempt to adhere to traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, sestina, villanelle, and other forms of contrived poetry. By utilizing these poetic forms, New Formalists are able to convey the emotional and artistic value that other forms lack. The purpose of New Formalism is to bring back the intellectually challenging and emotionally stimulating value of traditional poetry while infusing it with a contemporary sense of relevance.

Although New Formalism as a movement is still relatively new, its adherents have achieved significant recognition and awards in the literary world. Examples of well-known authors who practice New Formalism include Edna St.Vincent Millay, Richard Wilbur, Norman Dubie, and Louise Glück. These poets have found success through their blend of traditional poetic craftsmanship and modern subject matter. By appealing to both the intellectual and emotional sides of poetry, New Formalism has allowed more people to connect to the works of these authors, and has also provided for more interesting and varied readings.

Experts in the field of American Poetry have noted the resurgence of New Formalism in recent years. It is thought that the popular demand for poetic works that adhere to traditional forms such as sonnets and villanelles, yet contain up-to-date and relevant content, is what has driven this resurgence. By combining traditional and modern elements in their works, New Formalists are able to reach a much wider audience than would otherwise be available, and their success has been evident in the success of their published works.

Critics of New Formalism often point out that adherence to traditional forms can be limiting. They argue that poets who choose to write in this style are often inhibited by the structure, and that it can be difficult to capture the emotion and spontaneity of modern life within the confines of a traditional form. While there is some validity to this criticism, many New Formalists argue that the challenge of writing within the limitations of rhyme, meter, and stanzas can motivate creativity and inspiration. In this way, traditional and modern elements can be fused together to create something truly innovative and new.

What is certain is that New Formalism has provided a new way for poets to express themselves. By providing a new form of literature that makes use of tradition, but if infused with modern elements, this type of poetry has ignited a new and exciting era of writing that both traditionalists and modernists can appreciate.

The Role of Technology in New Formalism

The internet and digital technology have played a major role in the New Formalism movement. With the proliferation of blogging and online poetry magazines, many aspiring poets have found a platform to present their work to a much wider audience than ever before. This has allowed writers to receive instant feedback and publicize their work quickly and easily. As a result, many poets have found success in the digital age, and the New Formalism movement is no exception.

The role of technology has also created a renewed appreciation for craftsmanship and an emphasis on quality over quantity. The New Formalism movement is one of the most successful offshoots of this trend, emphasizing craftsmanship, structure, and traditional poetic devices to ensure the quality and longevity of their writing. With the internet and digital technology, authors are able to reach a wider audience and receive feedback that is both immediate and invaluable.

The internet and digital technology has provided a platform for intellectuals to exchange ideas and gain new perspectives in a way that was not previously possible. By utilizing the internet, aspiring authors can experiment with traditional forms and discover new ways of combining them with modern content. This has led to an unprecedented level of collaboration and creativity, which has been instrumental in the success of the New Formalism movement.

The internet and digital technology have made it possible for modern poets to connect with thinkers of the past. By utilizing the vast array of historic literature that is available online, poets are now able to learn from works of the past, as well as draw inspiration from them. This has created a new age of collaboration and creativity where poets can be free to experiment with traditional forms and create something entirely original.

The Benefits of New Formalism

The New Formalism movement has provided a platform for modern poets to create works that are both innovative and timeless. By combining traditional forms with modern subject matter, they are able to reach out to a wider audience while providing intellectually stimulating and emotionally charged literature. This has created a unique style of literature that is both accessible and emotionally stimulating, resulting in a renewed appreciation of the craftsmanship behind traditional poetry.

New Formalism has also provided a platform for modern poets to engage in intellectual debates and conversations that were previously unexplored. With the structure and formality of traditional poetry to back them up, writers are able to take on difficult topics while providing insightful and thought provoking perspectives on them. The quality and content of these works has provided an invaluable source of knowledge on a variety of topics that would otherwise go unexplored.

The New Formalism movement has also aided in the preservation of traditional poetry. By utilizing the structure and formality of traditional forms, poets are able to extend the life of their work and ensure that it remains relevant in the present day. The recognition that New Formalists have achieved has provided an invaluable source of inspiration to aspiring writers, and has helped to ensure that the craft of traditional poetry remains alive.


The New Formalism movement has reignited an appreciation for traditional forms of poetry and the craftsmanship that accompanies them. With the combined use of traditional forms and modern content, poets have achieved newfound success in the literary world, while providing meaningful and relevant literature to the general public. By utilizing the internet and digital technology, the New Formalism movement has been able to reach a much wider audience and gain a foothold in the literary world.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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