The more astute reader will have noticed how I’ve phrased that opening question.
If I had used a heading like, ‘Is it good to attempt poetry?’ it wouldn’t have the same effect. My aim is to prove that poetry can work for writers – of all levels.
As always, please remember that any definitions or comments given in my posts are my own, unless otherwise stated.
What is a poem?
1. A poem is a piece of creative writing which is usually broken into bite-sized chunks.
2. The bite-sized chunks are called verses, or stanzas.
3. The stanzas might rhyme at the end of each line, or each alternative line, or not at all. Don’t worry, we’re not going to delve into the details or different types. It’s not a poetry lesson.
4. A poem is creative, and therefore is usually descriptive. In other words, it’s like telling a story, but in short bursts.
5. It can be done in as few or as many short bursts, (verses, or stanzas), as you please.
How can a writer use a poem as an aid?
Unlike a short story idea which might take a few attempts to get started, a poem takes very little effort, and it doesn’t have to rhyme.
Try creating a beginning, a middle and an end. Three stanzas of four lines each; no more, no less. An example?
‘A Fighter Pilot’s Day’
Jack took off in his plane
a fighter in the air
He’d be shot at once again
at fear again he’d stare
The ‘dog-fight’ was Jack’s worst
his craft was torn apart
Damaged by a burst
of bullets at the start
Landing would be hard
to miss the town he’d try
A field was Jack’s last card
he accepted he would die
That just took me less than ten minutes. I believe that those three simple verses could be developed into a credible short story.
In a short series of posts, I aim to prove my point, that poetry is indeed a good thing for a writer to attempt. I hope you’ll come along on the journey, and remember, we’ll all get more out of the journey if we travel together. Don’t just think a response – write it as a comment for the rest of us.
Do you agree? Disagree? Not sure?
Thank you for reading.
13 thoughts on “Why is it good to attempt writing poetry? Part 1”
I have written poetry in the past, most of which has ended up in the bin, as, for me, poetry involves delving into the deeply guarded emotional places I don’t like to visit too often. As such, any poetry I have written tends to be intensely personal and, therefore, can be either too intimate to share, or just plain too self-indulgent!
I have never written a poem as a sort of story synopsis, and it’s an interesting idea you pose. I am reading Philip Pullman’s retelling of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales at the moment, and am brewing up to try and write one of my own, as they condense plot so succinctly. I thought it would be a useful exercise to undertake before I attempt a synopsis of my latest novel. I can see how poetry of the kind you’ve modeled would could work in that way too.
A lot of the poetry I’ve written goes to those same, sometimes dark places Julia, so I can appreciate where you’re coming from.
For the poetry idea, a good exercise is to try is to set yourself a time target.
As I said in my piece up above, a short story can take a while to get underway. If you should decide to try the short, simple poetry technique – aim to go from blank screen (or page), to at least three stanzas inside 15 minutes. Write as much as you can, as fast as you can. Beginning, middle, end. See what you end up with.
I’ll expect a report on my desk tomorrow morning. LOL
One of the issues I think we might share with many others is over-thinking the synopsis, and consequently over-writing it. Please keep me up to speed with your experiment – however you go at it.
Well, I’ve missed your morning deadline – good reason, as I was at work! However, I’ve risen to your challenge! Taking less than five minutes, my masterpiece reflects the place (Aldi car park) where inspiration struck (cheap and cheerful!). Here goes:
There once was a blogger called Tom
Who thought that rather than song
He’d burst into prose
Through the ranks his book rose
And soon it’ll be number one
An ode this is not, let it soon be forgot! (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)
Now I’m off
To do some editing
(Well, they don’t have to rhyme do they? …) 🙂
Ha, thank you Julia. It’s more of a limerick than a poem, but I appreciate you having a go.
Julia Lund is a writer
who worked hard to make her prose tighter
She published her book
I had more than a look
I’m pleased cos’ it made my week brighter
A stanza (from a poem):
Julie came up with ideas
sat down and wrote a good book
It’s given her change of careers
please buy it and take a long look
Enough, enough already!
Limericks can by lyrical too; let’s not become limerickist 😉
As a poet I feel such frustration,
Never satisfied with my creation.
I’ll re-write and revise,
‘Till my edits comprise
A true re-verse discrimination.
I look forward to learning from you in the days and weeks to come.
A ‘limerick’ you have composed,
Five lines, that fact exposed,
It ably displays your rhyme skill,
with only two minutes to kill,
And, I like what you have proposed.
I thought I’d reply in kind. I don’t create limericks too often, but I made an exception for you.
You are most welcome Phil, and I’ll watch out for you.
Though I mostly write novels, I do dabble in poetry from time to time. I find it to be fun.
As such, I suggested that my writers group take a month to experiment with poetry. We wrote haiku, and most of us came back irritated and hating it.
But I’ll always love it.
Thank for the visit. I think one of the issues with poetry is that there is a mental barricade put up when ‘poetry’ is mentioned. There are so many disciplines within poetry if we want to follow them. Even Haiku, although it is very short, takes a lot of discipline, and therefore probably causes stress to the writer.
I don’t write poetry unless I’m toying with an idea and I want to get it down in rapid strokes, like when I’m sketching.
When your friends at the group have forgiven you for subjecting them to Haiku, why not suggest ‘rhyming couplets’.
Use something simple like my example, which took me about eight minutes from idea to completion.
Fear thee not! All is now in hand! And let’s face it, the quality of my ‘poetry’ has not strained my writing reserves.
I reckon you’re going to produce the goods whether you use a rhyme or not. I’m looking forward to your next piece of work.
See, I write poetry from time to time, and funnily enough, have been shortlisted in competitions twice, which has never happened with short fiction. However, in order to write a poem, I have to have a strong emotional response to something, which again, doesn’t necessarily have to happen before I write a story. I certainly wouldn’t describe poetry writing as easy (not for me anyway). The choice of words, structure, rhythm etc all take so much thought and energy, and concentrating an idea takes an awful lot of skill. Never thought of using a poem as a basis for a story, Tom. Interesting concept.
Hi Sal. Thank you for the visit and interesting perspective. It proves the worry that a lot of folk might have about such an exercise, so let me take it a stage further.
I use a rhyme scheme because I like to do it that way, and it makes me work a bit harder at the topic; a sort of rhyming brainstorm. The key thing to remember is that your verses don’t have to rhyme, and you should aim to write them as quickly as possible. The aim is to produce a few short, telegram type lines of information that create the most basic story structure. Your writing is good already, so I think you should have a go, but time yourself.
Think of a topic, then write 12 short lines as quick as you can – and time yourself. No more than 10 minutes. You know you want to. 🙂
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