Yes, I really do enjoy taking a run at formal styles, now and again.
It's really fun, and the results can be surprising!
That poem you mentioned in the Thrush Poetry Journal (Gandy Dancer) is a triolet, as you know, and I had some good luck with it.
My favorite form is the ghazal, and I particularly like the "Jim Harrison-informed ghazals," which have very few rules attached, except the main strictures ( at least 5 couplets; each couplet must stand alone, etc).
With regard to stress patterns, I never was much for being hip to accents and such ( what's a trochee, again?) lol
I find counting syllables stringent enough!
I find myself lately writing in a markedly different style than was the case, say, a couple years ago. These stylistic shifts are inevitable, I think; they bleed over from what I've been reading, and also represent a desire for my art not to get stale, and not to repeat what I've already done, etc.
Life experiences definitely inform my writing, -- but I don't set out to convey a certain meaning in any poem. If I start out, trying to "mean" something, the poem will fail, nine times out of ten.
Conversely, If I begin by simply developing an image, or flow of language,
than the poem has a much better chance of succeeding.
I try to leave "meaning" to the reader.
Nuance is important, yes; but images trump nuances; my concern is simply to engage the reader; in other words, not to put him/her asleep with my words.
The way I write usually starts with one line or image that I find interesting enough to explore. This is much like a composer stumbling upon a cool melody.
Then, I will try to lend that image or line a certain coherence, through structure, -- the same way a musician uses Verse -- Chorus -- Bridge etc. -- as a framework, or a place for the melody to live.
When I begin a poem, I usually have no idea what I'm doing, where I'm going or what's even going to happen. It's a very intuitive process. Almost like being a passenger in a car driven by Neal Cassady, or some joyrider of his ilk.
Only later on, do I "engage the brakes" which is what we know as revision.
The poems of mine I like best are narrative in structure, but experimental in tone. As if the reader is being told a story by a schizophrenic in a semi-lucid state. Here's one from my book, Grand Mal
, by way of example:
A silver chain, what’s come
between us, pulled for egress
makes a tin ping on a Tri Met
bus, 82nd and Foster in front
of the jewelry store
that mocks the poor... Christ,
those chains that drape the clavicle
of a scantily clad mannequin, topaz,
sapphire and plaid, — from inside the store
she beckons like Daytona shill with checkered
flag as a still life, like a Flintstones wife
on land line phone as this empty bus
roars by... I’d have gotten off
miles back, but my druthers cut no
mustard here; it’s down to a bum chain
on a Sellwood-bound bus, histrionics
and innuendo, the stuff what’s always
come between us and a driver wears grape fez,
snakeskin cummerbund, iPod and hearing aid,
with pooka shells in his dread-locked braids
painted brightest silver. He’s bobbing
his head to a back beat might be
Nine Inch Nails, War or Tommy
James and the Shondells. Once more
I make me a megaphone with cupped
palms like solipsistic mime playing
carnival barker an earthly driver can’t
hear, this here’s no garden
in rear view mirror, crisp 56
degrees on the tarmac but hot
as sin in this non stop bus, my mien
so like these windows, tinted pale green
and meaningless, impossible to get off...
A busted light bulb chain — what’s come
between us, static cling like mannequin’s
lacquer and black licorice on the tip
of my tongue... Shhhhhh... can’t tell a
soul, it’s no damned use, I’m an obtuse
troll in rapid translation, abject
object of the laughter
of the young.