In the past year, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to write short poems for this blog. All that work has made poetry much more to me than just fun or a break from my prose pieces, although those perks are important too. Below are 4 lessons from writing poetry as an amateur poet.
Poetry forces me to target my subject
Since I write short poems, my subjects can’t be epic battles or a narrative. I have to choose a single thing, usually nature or a month or a feeling, and home in on it. If I lose focus, the words don’t come, or if they do, they run on and on. When I was working on the haiku for Monday’s prompt, I had many false starts. Then I realized I was trying too hard to say something grandiose. When I zeroed in on simply what shoots do in the spring, almost like a reporter listing the facts, the words came.
Poetry makes me succinct
In short poems, every word must carry its weight and work to maximum effect. In haiku, every syllable counts. No room for lazy words that just fill up space, expecting the other words to support it. To be that succinct, I have to scrutinize my subject and dig deep to uncover my true feelings and thoughts about it. Once I bring those to the surface, finding the right words grows easier.
Poetry shows me the world in a different way
My writer’s mind usually sees the world in terms of character, setting, and plot. When I want to write poetry, I have to view it through feelings or thoughts or simply as a snapshot of reality. That’s how I view my poems. As snapshots. My novels and short stories are movies. None are better than the others. Each art presents the world in a unique way.
Poetry connects me to other people
It’s hard to share my novels and short stories. Readers have to make a commitment to get through them. But poetry is a creative outlet, something of myself, I can share now and exchange a smile or laugh or thought or remark with readers. It’s a wonderful way to get a discussion started.
And as a way to get the discussion started — do you write poetry? Why? What have you learned from it?