By Stu Leventhal
Poems are mysterious! Many people are not really sure what a poem is. We recognize a good limerick or a rhyme and if singing or music is involved then we know the words we are listening to are song lyrics; but the difficult, scholastic verses can be confusing to decipher and even more difficult to try to categorize. The truth is a lot of us are not really sure what we should make out of a lot of the stuff people are trying to pitch as poems these days! To make things even more difficult is the fact that most poets take offense if we ask them to explain what their work is supposed to mean!
“Poems are artistic bursts of expression!” Artists claim. “They mean one thing to you and something totally different to someone else!”
Poems can be about anything that moves their authors; nature, love, revenge, humor, satire, relationships… Poems are visions, pictures, thoughts portrayed on paper using text, words and language in an abbreviated artsy fashion. Poems are written out declarations of man’s deepest emotions. Man’s emotions are often complicated while he is caught up in living the heat of the moment, which is why we try to isolate them on paper to make some sense out of them. Through poetry and artsy verse authors seek to dominate their emotions and gain some of the control back. Yes, many poems are whimsical and silly but others tackle life’s most serious issues.
Because most poems are short their authors do not usually use full sentences; the sentences and phrases are stripped down leaving just the most powerful and significant words! Poets seek to say a lot, fast so a reader is often given only the most important words and phrases! Lines and stanzas are arranged for sound and to be pleasing rhythmically to the ear because it is important that poetic works are artistic and aesthetic as well as meaningful!
Everything and anything can be viewed as important depending on who is looking or studying it. Poets expand the traditional definitions of the words they use. One thing symbolizes another. The significance of any item can be transferred to represent an entirely different thing.
There are many established forms of poetry with rules of structure that an author must abide by if he wishes his poem included in a particular poem genre or category but labels are really only meant to help classify the poems for grouping them and further discussions and studying. Poets never have to adhere to any set patterns or follow the established poem blue prints if they do not wish to. Creative Poets create their own styles often because despite all the numerous poetry techniques and methods already in existence, established styles and forms will not always allow the poet to say what he wishes to communicate to his readers without losing significance.
Good poetry is not cute; it may appear cute but it probably took a lot of discipline and thought before it began to take on a cute tone. The economy of words means everything to a poem. Poets toil long and hard to position each word just right to get the desired readers' reactions. Many re-writes often go into a short three or four stanza poem before an author is satisfied enough to share it!
Poems often mirror their authors. A poet’s fears and dreams are reflected for his readers to see. A writer’s attitude and personality is left on the page using words and the magic of language. Certainly a writer’s reverence for his subjects and topics can be seen in the type of structure he chooses to craft and display his most important messages with.
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*Feel free to add or share some insight on your poetry techniques and add to our ongoing discussion of poetic theory. What modern poets do you read? Why do you like their poems? What are your favorite poems? Why? Send Us a Poem!