Whether you are a new writer of poetry or a more seasoned poet I hope this book will stimulate ideas to enable you to enhance your poetic voice.
Poetry is an art form; a broad genre that covers many forms and styles. What is good poetry? That of course is as subjective as the appreciation of paintings, music and books in general.
Personal taste will always play a significant role in what speaks to us, what captures our attention, tugs at our heart strings. A good poem will have certain characteristics for each of us personally such as something we stop and read more than once, that we find ourselves thinking about after the initial read, and something that gives us some sort of visceral reaction.
Generically the characteristics of a good poem are that it is:
Poetry is painting pictures with words, making music with the sound of words, it is manipulating language to create magical imagery. Poetry can wow the reader, educate them, dovetail with their mood, move them, make them laugh or cry. To enable our poems to resonate with our readers we need to be highly skilled in poetic techniques.
What you write about is up to you. This book won’t tell you that; you have to find your subjects and write. You may well find ideas here, but your personal interests and life experiences will populate your poems.
What I will try to do is improve your techniques and help you to think like a poet. The gift, the talent comes from inside you but the techniques to make your ideas shine and sing need practice, as with every skill we ever learn. Writing is more than just a magical gift; it is an art and artists of all types learn individual skills and techniques to further their craft.
It is so with poetry. A poem may or may not have a specific number of lines, rhyme scheme and/or metrical pattern, but it can still be labelled according to its form or style. Here are the three most common types of poems according to form:
Lyric Poetry: It is any poem with one speaker who expresses strong thoughts and feelings. A lyric poem is a private expression of emotion by an individual. The focus is on creating a mood or recalling a feeling. Lyric poetry is highly musical and can feature poetic devices like rhyme and meter. It tends to be a shorter poem than the narrative poem. Most poetry, especially contemporary poetry is lyric. Poems such as sonnets, odes and much free verse is lyric poetry.
Narrative Poetry: This is a poem that tells a story; its structure resembles the plot line, with the introduction of conflict, characters, rising action, climax and the denouement. It often combines poetic techniques such as alliteration. It tends to have a beginning, middle and end.
One type of narrative poem is the ballad, that was originally designed to be chanted or sung.
Descriptive Poem: This is a poem that describes the world that surrounds the speaker. The feelings the poet has are secondary to the description. Those feelings don’t get in the way of the imagery. It uses elaborate imagery and adjectives. While emotional, it is more “outward-focused” than lyric poetry, which is more personal and introspective.
I am going to start by giving you a few good poems to get the poetical juices flowing, visit the tools you need in your poetic toolbox and suggest some exercises that could strengthen your overall poetic technique.
Remember it is very difficult to try to isolate poetic devices in this way – to separate out, for example, the effects of rhythm from rhyme. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for particular techniques at work in a poem, but we need to be aware that they will be interdependent, the recipe combines ingredients and the end product of the mingix is what will make a poem effective or not, because of the way such elements work together.
To unleash our creativity, we need to go beyond the conventional way we see the world and unlock our deepest passions, unleash all of our senses. I hope this book will enable you to begin that process.
What equipment do you need to be a poet?
An enquiring mind, imagination, a notebook, pencil and a good dictionary.
A burning desire to write. Samantha Beardon.