Poetry is very unique to the person writing it. A poem is a part of the writer, and their life experiences often dictate the message that comes through in the words.
Poetry is art on paper. A creation of expression written in words. Creativity is seen in the story we tell, the language that we use to tell it and the style or form of writing.
Most people are familiar with the term stanza. Stanzas refer to the breaks between lines, usually seen by the extra space. Stanzas can also be created by indenting a line to create emphasis.
Some forms of poetry require writers to use certain spacing and line breaks. Specific forms can also dictate how many lines are in each stanza and the amount of syllables used.
I prefer writing poetry in free form, but free form doesn’t mean a free for all. Poetry should have some consistency, pattern or rhythm to it.
Of course it can be argued that poetry can have non of that, because poetry can be whatever you want it to be, but I prefer some flow, even on the smallest level.
Typically when I write I choose to use a combination of shorter lines and four to five line stanzas. Sometimes I like to place a word or two by itself to show emphasis.
One rule of thumb that writers use is the natural breath. Can the line be read in one breath before needing to pause? This can be done by the singular line or even with shorter stanzas.
Line breaks can make all the difference in how a poem is read. The same words might sound choppy and disconnected if broken in the wrong place.
Carefully considering line breaks and experimenting with different lengths is a good way to see how certain combinations can have a positive impact.
Our poetry class was given an exercise this week to create a poem out of a group of words. The words seem connected in some way, but at times felt so abstract. We could not add words to the poem or mix up the order, but we could use punctuation and line breaks to create a poem.
I have posted these words in a previous blog post, but here they are again in case you missed them.
backroad leafmold stonewall
chipmunk underbrush grapevine
woodchuck shadblow woodsmoke
cowbarn honeysuckle woodpile
sawhorse bucksaw outhouse
wellsweep backdoor flagstone
bulkhead buttermilk candlestick
ragrug firedog brownbread hilltop
outcrop cowbell buttercup
whetstone thunderstorm pitchfork
steeplebush gristmill millstone
cornmeal waterwheel watercress
buckwheat firefly jewelweed
gravestone groundpine windbreak
bedrock weathercock snowfall
Now, here is an example of my rewrite:
Leafmold, stonewall chipmunk.
Words like “Stonewall chipmunk” suddenly stand out, and the reader can picture the creature sitting there as they walk by. By creating a title I have emphasized where we are “BACKROAD”.
These are all tangible, relate-able images that were created out of a fairly boring list of words. This challenge has also given me new ideas for creating poems out of objects that are around me.
What are some places that you think a poem like this would be suited for?