What do you need to know about writing poetry? What are the things that differentiate poetry from other kinds of writing? And most importantly, what makes a good poem? Keep reading to find out all the things that make up a poem.
- A feeling that really stuck with you.
Of course. What other reason could there be. Poetry in most cases is used to instill something or immortalize it. You write about a feeling to make sure that it doesn’t go away. Or to make sure that you remember it with the exact same intensity. Poetry again is means to share that same feeling with the reader. The feeling has to come to the reader with the same authenticity even if it’s not a feeling they are familiar with.
You are probably not half the freak that Edgar Allan Poe was but this how he can convince you that you might be:
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring
I would like to go back to what I said earlier. You write not about a feeling because it stuck with you. The fact that you wrote about it is why it will stick with you.
There is one difference between poetry and prose. And that difference is music. It’s not words. Its words that sound in a particular way when you read them out loud. The meter equips the words in a way that the words combined with music give away the intended meaning. And that meaning words alone cannot create. Poetry is given more priority in the area of emotion and that’s because poetry goes hand in hand with music.
Understanding meter in poetry isn’t easy. Most people don’t even ask why meter was used. Because honestly it doesn’t matter. Many people write poetry without going into all that. It makes everything unnecessarily complicated. You can write poetry with a rhythm and yet not use a specific meter. And that doesn’t mean the words always have to rhyme (which is not considered mature among writers). It means there has to be a sequence and style to what you write, a pattern.
Here is an example:
- Poetry isn’t ordinary work.
You can’t write that the night was dark and quiet or the flowers were bright and beautiful. You have to pick something out from mediocrity and then make it extraordinary.
There isn’t any rule that limits what you should write about. It can be anything. It can be your take on racism. It can be loss. It can be the most ordinary feeling in the world so long as you write about it in a way that as far from ordinary as it goes.
You want an example, consider this. When Hardy wrote about the sinking of the Titanic he picked out a tragedy from the news and made it into a retribution of vain and ungrateful people. That’s the kind of different you have to aim for.
Make this into a rule: It’s not yet poetry if its something’s I’ve read before.
Poetry requires that you describe as vividly and with an entirety that brings to life something the reader experiences as his own. Sure, you’ve read about this before. This is one of the oldest rules of writing. Make the reader feel like he is in it. But poetry is about zooming in on one aspect.
This is circumlocution and in poetry you get points for it.
Even though your descriptions have to be powerful and exaggerated. In contrast, poetry requires that you leave things out. Purposely omit what could affect or divide the attention of the reader from the prime element that is in question. When the poem is about one particular feeling, it has to be just that.
If you liked this article or if you would like to add another point that is essential to writing poetry, share it with us in the comments below.
~ Momina Arif