In an interview in the latest issue of Poetry the poet A. E. Stallings says that she doesn't believe in writing in form for its own sake, but then goes on to defend forms such as the sonnet. In the same interview, the interviewer says that "Christian Bök has written recently (on the Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet, of course!) that writing poems in form today has begun to take on the character of a "conservation society," protecting an endangered form of poetry at the brink of its extinction, thereby preserving these "styles" for posterity, like a taxidermist stuffing dead owls." This raises several questions regarding form in general -- whether in poetry or in other forms of art.
When you write or paint, which typically comes first: the form or the content? Why? Why choose one form over another? To what extent does content dictate form? To what extent does form dictate content? Is working in a given form merely an attempt to "preserve" the form from extinction? What could such a statement even mean? What are the benefits of writing in a particular form? What, if any, problems are there?
Perhaps we could come up with some more questions along these lines -- but let's begin with these.