All About Poetry

Today was my last day out at camp.  Today was a lot better than the past few, which is very good.  It’s good enough that if I’m still in the area, I might consider going back next year.  I’m completely and utterly exhausted, but I have a little color in my skin, and not all of it is red, so I consider that a victory.

Down to Business

I love all sorts of writing.  The first semester of my senior year I was presented with a mild dilemma; I had to choose what my capstone (big senior project) was going to be.  I had to choose between fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  I decided to choose poetry.  Because of that, I learned a lot of things about poetry.

Basics

Poetry writing and fiction writing are pretty similar in some rights, at least on a conceptual level.  One of those huge similarities is the basic “write what you know”.  When I first started writing classes, I wrote a story about martial arts, but didn’t actually have a sparring match in scene, even though I have a 1st Dan in Taekwondo.  The story sucked.  Added the sparring match, and it worked much better.  In poetry, the concept is pretty similar.  For my capstone class, I revised a poem about my experiences working at Taco Bell.  I considered it one of my more successful poems.  “Write what you know” is pretty self explanatory.  Take something you know, maybe baseball, and form a poem or a story with that as the center.  See where it takes you!

“Go in fear of abstractions”, which is a quote by Ezra Pound, is one of the most important things I’ve learned in poetry writing.  An abstraction is
something that isn’t tangible.  Love, peace, hate, freedom; ideas are abstractions.  Instead of throwing around the word love all the time, use a metaphor, use a simile, use images.  A poem full of abstractions isn’t going to be very good, its going to be simple and probably boring.

The final basic I have is to not be afraid to revise.  Don’t look at it as destroying your work, look at it as improving the work.  And remember, you can always go to the previous version.  Revisions aren’t permanent.

Types of Poetry

There are so many types of poetry, so I’m not going to go into all of them.  But I’ll go into some.  There are three main types of poetry: lyric, narrative, and persona.  Lyric poetry expresses the thoughts and feelings of the speaker.  Narrative poems tell a story.  Persona poems are when the poem is done under a clear “persona”, like that of a famous person, historical person, or something as general as a teacher.

There are also many different forms of poetry.  The two most known examples of formed poetry are the sonnet (14 lines of rhymed poetry) and the haiku (a nature poem with three lines with 5-7-5 syllables per line).  There are also sestinas, villanelles, limericks, pantoums, and prose poetry.  I’ve never written sestinas, limericks, or pantoums, so I’m not really able to explain them that well.  But I have written several prose poems.  Prose poems almost need to be weirder than regular poetry because of how they are formatted, or the lack of formatting.  Prose poems are basically paragraphs.  They make fun experiments.

Coming to an End…

Of course, I could also go into the schools of poetry – I learned about them this past semester.  But I think I’m going to save that for another day.  I don’t even know what school I fall under.  So look forward to finding out the different schools, there’s many and each of them have different aesthetics and feels.

Let me know if you have any questions, I can answer to the best of my abilities 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~Laura

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