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?
What a wonderful sum-up of the value of poetry! I should remember these points when we start our Poetry Unit in a couple of weeks… 😉 I enjoy writing poetry, but I have a hard time deciding if I REALLY like my pieces or not.
It’s was a poetry unit in fifth or sixth grade that captured my attention. We studied haiku, I still have the ten haiku I wrote for extra credit.
Oh neat 🙂 I know at least one of my 8th graders was pretty excited we were going into poetry- it’s great to open up all of those different writing styles.
I appreciated your views on poetry amd one particular point you made about how poetry is about your feelings and emotions or a snap shot of your reality. I completely agree with this point. I write poetry because it’s my main creative outlet. I’ve never been good at expressing my feelings verbally, but writing has always come easy to me. For me poetry is a way to build a human connection and a way to seem relatable.
Yes, I love connecting with others through poetry.