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Creative Writing in Poetry

Creative Writing in Poetry


Robert Frost once wrote this about poetry: "Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting." That image, now in your thoughts, courtesy of this wonderful writer of poems and perhaps your own experience in the kitchen, is a creative business some delight in and some dread. Even so, poetry is almost always a satisfying form for any writer.

Poetry is a rare bird in a tropical rainforest, meant to soothe the wounds of a mightier sword that slashes away at what comes forth to fill a page. To create in only a few words a thought that leads the reader to a defining moment is a priceless and rare bird, indeed.

For those who are moved toward the simplicity of words, the journey is profound and challenging. Each word must carry the reader along and make sense at the same time but not with the same kind of logic as other writing. It is not easy work to tell a story or draw up those feelings and observations in a few brief lines. To have a message dripping with a rich, full-bodied flavor takes heart and persistence; it is something some writers will choose as their focus for private and sacred reasons that can bless and encourage many others.

The poem itself can be very effective when the writer is trying to capture a current event or describe social circumstances in our society. The Postmodern Era from 1945 to1989 had a feeling of irony. Poets of this time period point out the many ways in which social ills and follies, falsehood, pretense, hypocrisy, greed, and making money do not guarantee a good life. Without a doubt, many poems and poets often have successfully skewered society and humanity in ways that add health and life to those who share the works.

Other examples include poets from Japan who tell of the horrors of Hiroshima and the notorious "Beat" poets from 1950s and '60s America. These works consistently question the assumptions of the political establishment and those in power. Reading and writing poetry can be a good way to learn how to pay attention to the world around you. These are words with a power of their own, a healing power, a clear light of a truth that moves beyond analysis, reporting, or commentary. The poet's eye roams toward nature; and in a very Zen way, smaller matters that others are too busy to pretend to observe are the grist of the poet's mill of words.

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Authors such as William Wordsworth or Percy Shelley have shared the perspective that a poem can give to a historical situation that seems out of control. Both of these poets lived through and wrote about the bloody French revolution, and the horrors of anarchy, rebellion, and massacre. Their chosen words bring a focus to topics and perplexing issues that perhaps could be related in no other way. Similar to the lyrics of a song, poetry can give difficult subject matter a clarity often lost with too many coldly factual or blandly historical words.

The poet also can explore completely ephemeral experiences. The world of your dreams and fantasies can be explored and developed into an art form that makes the nebulous concrete or transforms visions, utopian ideals, psychological crises, and exclusively human pains and agonies into written form. In this sense, a poem is a form of writing that is far more therapeutic, personal, emotional, and revelatory for both author and reader than any other.

Another wonderful aspect of writing poems is to give everyday living a sense of meaning and beauty. Poetry helps you pay attention and expand your awareness. A piece of ice on a hot stove is a more-or-less meaningless thing, short-lived, that happens and then is over; it may be a prank by a child as his mother cooks a meal. Yet for the poet, this becomes an allegory or metaphor for another matter entirely. For this ability and skill, poets are honored.

Love and romance also are found in the endearing voice of the poem, especially song lyrics. Poetry is one of the oldest forms of creative writing, and love notes or greeting cards are not the least-appreciated among these. Joy, the heart that sings of a lover's embrace, the pangs of love lost, or longings for a distant one: In these, passionate creativity simmers, and erotica can be included if you dare.

The poem is a view or expression that can give voice to a person's thinking, even thoughts the writer does not yet know he or she holds. The words give validation to inner feelings and life to something that might have been lost without reflection. Poetry is really for anyone, not just for a chosen few who have mastered a degree in English literature. It is a universal written genre for anyone who can write to pour forth what may seem profound or silly, nonsense or wisdom. It may be written on a leaf or a grain of rice or recorded in the Bible.

There are various genres and styles: the haiku, the sonnet, the epic poem, or poetry written in iambic pentameter. Poems can be very formal, as a serious study of form, or quite informal. Poetry inspires a deep sense of place and time that other writers can bounce off of. Therefore, the form you choose, like free verse or limerick, probably reflects the poems you have read and the styles of your times. Large groups share in the experience of reading the works if they are popular and thus support the creative freedom of thought on display, which can be a fertile way to replenish cultural ideas and views.

If you want to walk with Wordsworth, Longfellow, Shakespeare, and Maya Angelou to write poetry of your own, you might start by keeping a journal of words and pictures to save for a finished piece. Unlike most other writers, a poet often is called upon to read aloud his works to audiences, and some clubs and coffeehouses still offer these opportunities. It is a different kind of writing, and few poets ever become really wealthy or well-paid from their poems alone. In a different way, however, it is a world of riches within that you can cultivate for yourself and for the creative enjoyment you will love.

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