In The Re-Emergence of Poetry, we discussed the longevity of the genre and its increasingly popularity over recent years. However, you might still be wondering how to dive deeper and be intentional with this creative medium whether as a reader or someone who wants to try their hand at writing it.
If it seems like there is a sense of foreboding pressure on you, as the reader, to understand each line upon first glance, then try this. Instead of rushing to decipher every word, try simply listening to a poem the first time you read it. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins describes himself as a “line-maker” whose intention is to constantly “contribute to the progress of the poem.” He believes in the cadence of every line and makes a deliberate effort to push the reader’s attention onto whatever topic he has covered. By allowing ourselves to focus on what the author wants us to hear, it can become much easier to find the meaning in those lines.
The beauty of poetry is the diverse expression it allows for and this becomes clear when looking at the countless forms and subgenres you may come across. If narrative poetry or sonnets put you to sleep, then spoken word or free verse pieces might be more your style. Just like listening to music, we might identify with certain artists over others. Whether you relate more to Maya Angelou’s poems about searching for liberation or you can see your interests projected in the nature-based themes of Robert Frost, you must look to find your own favorite poems and poets as you would search for the next movie you want to see.
As if you are watching a film, it helps to take a poem and visualize it. What is happening throughout each line and how do the things being said make you feel? Conversely, when writing a poem, how do you want people to understand what you’re trying to tell them?
As far as the construction of a poem goes, I recommend you read further into the art, experiment with various styles, and take this piece I have written for you as encouragement to try.
Tell me your truth in all of its glory,
Or spin me a story that alludes to better days.
Write it brief
Or drag us along,
As you try to create
A swan song, only you could sing.
Bring pockets full of every life experience
you’ve had, or the ones you still have to discover,
We all want to uncover the things
we can share with others,
And the world is waiting
for your verse.