Defining Poetry 101!
By Stu Leventhal
So you want to be a Poet? Why? You say you like reading poetry. Okay, that is a good start. You say reading poems is fun. Again, I have to ask; can you tell me why reading a poem is such fun? You might say because poems make you think. Or, they make you smile! Or maybe you get mesmerized slightly by poems because unlike other writings poems are often written using repeating, soothing, welcomed patterns and melodic tone. Yes, all the lines of one poem may all have the same amount of words in them or its stanzas can often be spoken in a repeating rhythm, beat or cantor. Their author, the poet may choose to have the last word of every other line rhyme. Or, the structure of a poem may be three lines of similar sized text then a pause followed by four lines of text then a pause then three lines again followed again by the four lines.
Yes, I get it; adding patterns and beats to reading makes the reading more interesting and enjoyable plus the poems become easier to remember. There certainly are many popular structures of poetry that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye when viewed on paper as well as very pleasing to the ear when recited in verse.
Poetry is considered conservative artsy text. All but the essential words are deleted from phrases and statements leaving only the very most important words. This economy of words in poetry leaves room for a more personal interpretation of the piece by each reader. The ability of the poet to get us to think is one of the many joys of poem reading. By cutting out all the unnecessary words, the poet is able to take us on a journey very quickly. The economy of words in poetry often adds to creating that mystery of whether the reader really gets what the author was trying to say which adds ambiance as well as more fun to the reading. After all, they say art is in the eye of the beholder.
Poetry is art made of just words and combinations of words! If you want to be a Poet; think of yourself as a painter or sculpture who paints pictures or sculpts without paint, colors, clay or stone but instead using only words. Can you paint a picture in a reader’s mind with just a few lines of text?
The words a poet picks to build his artistic creation with are meant to cause an emotional reactions when read. They are chosen to conjure up visions in a reader’s head. The difference between just reading and writing and reading and writing poetry is the powerful impact caused by the use of just a few chosen phrases. Deep emotions are stirred despite the briefness of the poetic phrases. A lot get said! These small compilations of words and word groupings are the building blocks of a full art piece and we all know art is often tough to interpret and can be very deep to contemplate.
Poetry is art and thus not practiced the same as we speak, talk or would write a letter to a friend. When speaking and talking we want to be sure to make our point and may take long length measures to make sure our listener does not misunderstand what we are trying to tell them. A poem is not just speaking or language put to print. A poem is meant to be an emotional charged experience! Words and phrases are used wittingly, outside their intended, popular and even known dictionary meanings to portray things entirely different!
Poetry is a vital segment of creative writing. When one writes creatively the author still must use full sentences crafted with proper grammar and follows the acknowledged and accepted rules of composition, spelling and diction because that is the best way to assure your message is not misinterpreted. As art a poem’s goal is to bring awareness to something of significance. Once presented the art allows its audience’s individually raised emotions to decide what the significance is all about.
There are some rare long poems but for the most part, poetry is short and very concise. This means the poet has a limited amount of time or words to make a point. Thus, every word must be chosen carefully. There is little room for words that do not perform or babbling, rambling, meaningless phrases. But, just because most poems are short do not make the mistake of thinking they cannot express large ideas or spur huge debates or ask or raise very complicated questions!
When we meet a person for the very first time we start evaluating what we see and hear immediately and start forming our opinion of them instantly. This is the same kind of power of awareness great poetry awakens in us. Even though logic tells us before us stands a man in his early thirties who we cannot possibly hope to know the least bit about in the few minutes we’ve spent with him, we still judge him and come to many conclusions. A poet’s few words have that same effect on us, speaking volumes, causing us to think, wonder and conjure up a pile of questions. The poet wets our appetite so we now want, even need to learn and know more!
When we walk into a strange room or round the corner and step right into a situation our sense of awareness is elevated instantly. We start to evaluate what is going on then draw some conclusions right away. We can sense when excitement is in the air or danger is closing in on us despite there is no concrete evidence that anything out of the ordinary is about to happen! A good poet’s words also put us on heightened alert immediately though we can’t often put our finger on why!
Poems are not written to give explanations or preach. Poetry is meant to pose new ideas, question old ideas, to challenge what we think we are sure of, to open our eyes to new possibilities, to criticize, to warn, to help us see more clearly, to spotlight something of significance, to draw attention to something worthwhile that is being ignored or taken for granted.
Poems highlight the beautiful and illuminate the ugly and they often have us reevaluating our definitions of determining what beauty is and what ugliness is.
Poems are tightly constructed groups of fascinating individual bursts of magical words and phrases which are capable of creating immense emotion and sprouting big ideas. Poetic stanzas must be entertaining and meaningful on their own but when compiled one after another into a complete poem they lead a reader somewhere extra special!
Most of us are aware that there exist many types of very complicated highly structured poetry. There are rules and regulations that must be met for one’s poem to be qualified as a certain literary type. Remember that poetry is art and as art the visual look of the poem on the page is often important too. For example; The Oulipo snowballing poem method requires the poet to start every poem off with just a single word, the next line has two words, the next three words and so on with the poet adding one more word to each line added. The end result is that the poem visually looks like a triangle.
The Cinquain poem, aka the Quintain Poem or Quintet, is basically a quick five line stanza with a rhyming scheme that is usually crafted in one of these patterns; The last word of the 1st line rhymes with the last word of the 3rd line while the 2nd line rhymes with the 4th and 5th lines (xyxyy). Rhyming patterns of xyxxy and zxyyx are also popular for Cinquain Poetry.
The Japanese Haiku Poem’s beauty lies in how much it portrays to the reader with just a very few brief words! The Haiku Poet seeks to create a strong emotional image in the reader’s mind with just a three-line poem, which is why the subjects are often nature related. The original requirements for a Haiku Poem were that the 1st line had to have exactly five syllables. The 2nd line seven syllables and the 3rd line five syllables. Over time the 5/7/5 syllable count has become less important. But brief, intense and emotional are still requirements. Haiku Poems also have to be able to be read in one breath.
New students of poetry should never be intimidated by what at first appears to be complicated and scholarly poetry. Just read a few of the new style poem then try writing one. You may surprise yourself, discovering you have a natural knack for crafting more than just silly, lewd, bar limericks. Not that anything’s wrong with silly, lewd, often very humorous, bar limericks! Okay you Poet Laureates, let’s not judge! Remember, art is in the eye of the beholder!
Just keep in mind that the method of poetry or style the poem is written in is not nearly as important as the message being presented. The style should always be chosen because it enhances the message, reinforces it and makes the unveiling or discovery of the idea by its reader more dramatic, delightfully or potent!
The POET – A scribe who writes poetry, a crafter and compiler of verses, an artistic wordsmith of great imaginative wit and expressive skills of composing language into art!
Poetry Tips - http://www.anewtale.com/poetry-tips.html
Writing Song Lyrics - http://www.anewtale.com/writing-song-lyrics.html
ENJOY READING SOME FREE POETRY HERE:
Poems by Stu Leventhal - http://www.anewtale.com/poem.html
Romance Poetry by Stu Leventhal - http://www.anewtale.com/romance.html