Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing Truthfully in Poetry


As Edgar Allen Poe once said, "Poetry is the rythmical creation of beauty in words." So true, so true. The thing is you can't always just want to write, and then write, especially with poetry. Poetry is just so full of emotions and ideas and honesty that it just can't work that way. The poetry doesn't feel as real. It's better if you get inspired, although it's not a necessity. It doesn't have to be something big. For example, I wrote a poem about an Easy-Bake Oven. By 'truthful,' I mean that the descriptions -though they can be somewhat flowery, if you'd like- are honest. As Brenda Ueland once said in If You Want To Write, "Describe something just as it is. Don't worry if it is angular or clumsy or how it comes out. Just put down what you see." You're not pretending that the person or chair or Easy-Bake Oven is something they're not. That's not how poetry works. Back to my Easy-Bake Oven poem . . . here's an excerpt:

Perching on dull counter-tops
in inviting pastel accessories,
accents of robin's-egg and lavender,
your wares, carriers
of "lite" calories
and synthetic cake mixes
(about as real as Ring Pops)
in doll-size baking pyrite

          Obviously, that wasn't high-quality. I didn't describe the magnifications of birch trees or whatever is idealized and hailed as high standards in poetry, like Robert Frost, for example. I also write poems about nature, et cetera, as well, but this one was different. I felt what I was writing, and it was honest, and so it came out better than some of my stories, which sometimes feel forced. Nobody wants that feeling, and people will notice if you don’t actually feel your idea.

Even if you dislike certain types of poems, like free-verse or ballads, I encourage you to give it a try. It might be hard for a short-story writer or novelist to switch gears, but I'd recommend it. Also, your poetry might give you some writing fodder. Or of course, you could use some of the phrases from your poem in your writing if you're so inclined. Plus, there are many different kinds of poems, such as limericks, haikus, and sonnets.


Here’s a haiku I wrote on the subject:

Often in poems
It isn't about trying
But expressing truth

Also, I'm going to only blog once a week from now on, as I'm busy with school and sports, et cetera. In the summer I think I'll blog two or three times a week, though. Happy Labor Day!


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