If a poll was conducted, I would bet that most people, writers or not, have tried their hand at writing poetry at some time in their lives. Most likely, it was during that angsty-teenage phase in high school, right?
I wrote plenty of poems during that phase. Some were actually quite good, though most ended up in the trash. But what is it that draws us to write poetry, as opposed to short stories or novels?
What I have always enjoyed about writing poetry is taking emotions, concepts, and metaphors, then fashioning them into a pleasing pattern that evokes exactly what I wanted to convey. With poetry, the goal is to create the most impact with the least amount of words. So they must be exactly the “right” words, in the “correct” order. Rhythm, rhyme, cadence, and even the visual layout of the words on the page, are all taken into account when creating verse.
Writing poetry is a great way to get the creative juices flowing if they have been blocked or stalled. I had put aside creative writing for many years, but after my first husband died, I began writing again while I was in mourning. Poetry came naturally to me, as a way to express the tumult of emotions I had to sort through. It was so very personal, and helped to heal me in a way that nothing else had. Here is what I wrote a few weeks after his passing:
…means it’s truly over.
….means he won’t return, ever.
…means I am alone in this life.
…is a hard, cold word, with some softness at its’ center.
…means I can hang on a little longer.
…means I am still close to him.
…means a part of him is still here, forever.
…is a warm, soft word, with a cold, hollow core.
It’s easy to say, “I must let him go”
But so very hard to do. All I have left
Is this invisible bond, this phantom tie
That keeps me his wife, not his widow
I cannot let him go as long as I live in this house
I can rearrange the furniture, change the curtains…
But he is still here in every beam, every fabric.
How can I let him go when he won’t leave?
I was obviously going through the “acceptance” phase of grief, and taking it on directly helped me to understand how to get through it. Expressing my thoughts about it in the form of a poem took me to the heart of the matter, and gave me something I could read again and save as a testament of what I experienced during that time. I eventually did remodel my home, moved on to another home, and remarried. However, I will never forget those feelings, and I have this poem and others to mark that passage of my life.
Writing poems after so many years of not writing broke loose my stalled creativity. As time went on, the poems became lighter, humor came back, and I began experimenting. I started writing scenes, one of which later turned into the novel currently with my beta readers.
Poems still pop into my head out of nowhere, and I also enjoy reading other people’s poems now and then. There is such a wide range of styles, and though there are guidelines for crafting poetry, I believe it is one of the most personal things we can write, and therefore we can use words in whatever way we see fit.
So whether you are “a writer” or not, you might want to give writing poetry a try. It is a wonderful tool of expression, and you can share it with the world, or keep it private. They are your words, after all.
Here are a few links worth exploring:
How do you feel about poetry? Is it passé, or does it have a place?