This week: Which comes first?Edited by: Kate ~ Happy Birthday U.S.A.
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Greetings! I'm honored to be your guest host for this week's WDC Poetry Newsletter.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
An Essay on Criticism," Alexander Pope,
quoted in "Rhyme's Reason A Guide to English Verse,"
by poet and critic John Hollander.
WHAT MAKES A VERSE A POEM?
Poetry is: "A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme." (American Heritage Dictionary)
What is a Poem?
A poem is a form of verse that alludes to, but does not tell, what it is. That's the purpose of prose (or in verse, a metaphor perchance). Maybe an article or a class lesson will tell you what to do, but a poem shows what can be. Yes, the old 'show' vs. 'tell' ~ poetry shows the image or idea envisioned by the writer of the poem. *Idea*
Moon brushes canvas cerulean blue daubed with silver;
Guiding the traveler homeward where Morpheus beckons.
Now, let's re-write the above example in prose:
Moonlight amplifies the light of distant stars, so they appear to glimmer like lights in the twilight sky, which is a deep purple-blue akin to the ink used on parchment or for tattoos (cerulean blue). Someone walks towards his house along a moonlit road to sleep and dream.
Although I tried to give a visual image of the cerulean blue, I still like the rhythmic poetic version better than the prose. I think it showed, rather than told of, someone heading home as the day waned, to a place of peaceful respite.
As writers, we are wordsmiths. We select words that convey ideas, images, sounds, both real and those of our invention. To be a poem, rather than an article or story, however, we take the words a step farther, and piece them together in a way that evokes a sense of the image, idea, or place we want to recall or invent, and the reader to perceive. We mumble the words as we convey them to paper or laptop. Poetry needs to be spoken to achieve its full potential.
Let's take it to the next step. What determines the shape or form of a poem, the essence or mood of the image the poet conveys. Do you determine to write a sonnet, a haiku, a verelay, a tanka? OR, does the image, idea, memory or event incite the form of poetic expression?
I hold that it's the image or thought and the poet's perception of the image. Step outside and sit, listening to the birds or crickets as the sun sets. A leaf flutters earthward, green dappled with yellow, twirling in the last rays of the day's sunlight. One poet may show the scene as an expression of autumn's arrival, green to yellow, soft, quiet -> and a haiku is born. Another may see it as the wheel of the year turning and be inspired to express this in a virelay or ballad. Another yet may feel the autumn of a lifetime encroaching, poignant, or relaxed, or vibrant with color, and express these perhaps in a sonnet, a ghazal, or free verse (a la Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass").
You see how one occurrence, a falling leaf at twilight, can incite a variety of expression in verse. Maybe one or more of you have gleaned an idea for versimilitude (wordplay, remember ).
So, I hold that it's the poet's communication with the object of the poem, be it a picture, a word, a sensation or dream, that incites the form of the poem. Learning and practicing the many varieties of poetic expression that have evolved and multiplied over time ~ from the subtle yet intense haiku, the intriguing sonnet (in its many permutations), the internal rhyme and rhythm of free verse, the lyric melody of an ode -> forms that are and those that will become, inspired by the poet's interpretation of the event, image, sensation, idea.
As wordsmiths we are like carpenters, using the tools at hand * words * and shape them * crafted with forms and patterns * to create a poem that is unique. Although unique, the cornices and doors and windows are accessible to both the listener and the poet once the poem is put to paper and read aloud.
So, what inspires the poet in you to create a poem, to craft your art. Is it a painting, a word, a color, a sound, a taste, an idea or memory? Whatever your vision, let it guide you to its expression using the tools at hand to evoke its essence that you remember, and that others engage, the art you've crafted with the tools at hand (poetic forms and patterns).
Whatever your inspiration, whatever tools you use to craft said inspiration, remember the one fixed rule of poetry. Real all poetry aloud! That's what gives it life and creates of your crafting of art, a poem.
Kate ~ Happy Birthday U.S.A.
I invite you to read on and engage with some of the poets in our midst who share their art, using a variety of the tools (patterns) at hand to create a poem ~ share your thoughts with a review perchance as you read each one aloud
Now, whichever comes first for you in this moment in time, take an image or form if you will and weave a poem to share.
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Thank you for sharing this exploration with me ~ and whether or not you agree that the poem is created not by either art or craft, but by the active, inspired and intentional melding of the two, as Mr. Pope, not a poet but essayist, postulates, I invite you to experience the process, learn a new form or two, and see where it takes your own poetic expression.
If you remember nothing else of today's exploration,
take to heart only this ~
The One Absolute Rule of Poetry =
Read ALLPoems Aloud!
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