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Writing Poetry


Discuss ways to improve your poetry. Post your techniques, tips, and creative ideas about how to write better.
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Jan Sand Male, 88, Finland (5/21/2013 7:28:00 PM)

Although this is an area that might be full of personal viewpoints my own feeling is that poetry is where language intersects communication in a very special way. Many of the poems I see here are, to my mind, prose arranged in lines to mimic poetry. The visual shape of a poem must, in my opinion feel out the vocalization of a poem and there is a musical quality out of rhyme, rhythm, alteration and a sort of spacial sculpture of ideas that reach across each other with the various mechanics of language. Most of my poems are conceived by my unconscious mind and the words emerge in a kind of zen automatism. The actual writing usually takes about ten or fifteen minutes.
Here is an example of one of my better pieces.

Formation

The patterns of the world wash in
Across the sands of mind
And ripple through the thoughts which drift
And scatter unaligned
'Til gently rocking back and forth
Their edges catch and bind.

They bind and mat in patterns that
Echo those outside
To map the weavings of the world
That glisten, slip and slide
And change in forms extremely strange
Which shatter and collide.

We construct ourselves upon
These waves of sight and sound
Collecting from these drifting thoughts
An entity that's bound
To shifting inside structures
And whatever runs aground.

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  • Jan Sand (5/29/2013 5:51:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    Although rhyme and metaphor and rhythm come naturally to me I would be careful about ruling out all variations of form. There are quite a few variations of the sonnet form that still engage other and effective formalities and striking language and use of the intersect of the formalities of linguistics and the evocation of novel and rich innovative thought can over ride formalities to create startling and worthwhile patterns. The retort to Frost's comment by e, e cummings was that Frost's poetry was like playing tennis without balls. Nevertheless I admire and enjoy both poets.

  • James Kastner (5/25/2013 7:17:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    I agree fully with your thought about most free verse (even by some well respected poets) really being prose broken up into lines withoout any apparent thought to rhythm and sound. Rhythm is what makes a poem dance and sound devices such as internal true and off-rhyme, alitteration, consonance and assonance make music sing. It is these aspects of language along with the density of sensory imagery, heightened us of figurative language, and compactness of the language that sets poetry apart from prose. I guess that, in a nutshell, is my aesthetics concerning poetry. I also think there is a place for set verse forms and a power in them. There is also something in working within the rules of a verse form that forces the poet to really craft their words. You can't be lazy and accept the first idea that comes to mind. As Frost said, who disliked free verse: " Writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net." It irritates me when someone writes, for instance a sonnet, which isn't in iambic pentameter. I was fortunate enough to have my first poetry instuctor be a formalist who taught us some of the set verse forms. He said that learning them is the equivalent of a musician learning scales and chord progressions before trying to improvise. I really believe he is right. You have to know the rules in order to break them in creative ways. Sorry for the diatribe. I guess I miss teaching.

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