We’ve been discussing the composition of poetry on Twitter today. It sounds like many poets (including myself) tend to treat writing poetry like dating.
Start off for fun
At first, it’s just an image. Or an idea. Or a line. Something small and (what initially) seems unique triggers the beginning of a poem. You start to write it down, thinking it looks and sounds great. The common question: Will it still look good the next morning?
Often, these quickies may be abandoned in the light of day. Sometimes, forgotten forever. However, sometimes, there is enough “potential” there that…
Things start to get serious
And by serious, I mean, that you start trying to change the poem, and maybe the poem even starts trying to change you a little. This is where some really good poetry can be made. Many good poets and good poems make each other great during the revision process.
Of course, spending too much time revising a bad poem is also where quite a bit of time can be wasted.
Let go of the bad ones
Many poets (myself included) have trouble letting go of the bad poems. These are the poems that may have had “potential” at some point but are now just bad for you. Everyone outside can see that’s there’s nothing there. And deep down inside, you know it too.
You just have to let go of these poems. Who knows? Maybe it will make something of itself and return to you as a poem that works. Besides, you can always keep the best lines, images around in a “bits & pieces” notebook.
When you have a keeper, share it with the world
Just as you would bring a keeper home to meet the parents and family, keeper poems need to be shared with the world. These poems have everything you love, and you’re proud to be connected to it. So, share it by submitting to journals and publications or by self-publishing.
Of course, one obvious difference between poeming and dating comes at this point, because you have to let the keepers go as well. That’s the only way to move on to the next great poem.
Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Learn more about poetry:
- Check out several poetic forms
- Read Writing the Life Poetic, by Sage Cohen
- Learn how to get your poetry published