A Poet’s Perspective: Why You Should Write Poetry
Not all poems need to sound like they were written by Edgar Allan Poe
Writing is a game. The objective is to form a connection with the reader, hoping they come back for more. The competitors, unfortunately, are other writers. But here’s the beautiful thing about writers: no two are the same. Everyone has their own way of writing with varying approaches, each offering refreshing perspectives. We all have people whom we look to for inspiration; novelists, screenwriters, satirists, playwrights. Although we may write about different experiences, situations, or people, what urges us to write is the one thing we all have in common.
Poetry is a specific way of writing, differing greatly from other forms of writing. Yet, there is no correct way to be a poet. Because of this, I think people who write poetry may not be taken as seriously as other writers. Many people hear the word “poet” and imagine a brooding, misunderstood outsider, which is unfortunate. Poetry has gotten a bad rep. Some of the most brilliant authors have written poetry: James Baldwin, Emily Bronte, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few.
But here’s the thing people may fail to realize about poetry: it is an art form allowing the writer to create without the fear of being perfect, without worrying about making sense. Poetry’s sole purpose is to allow the writer to express their thoughts, feelings, or opinions in an abstract way that doesn’t follow the “traditional” rules of writing. A poet, if they have done their job correctly, will leave the reader trying to figure out exactly what meaning, purpose, or emotion was meant to be conveyed. It’s a guessing game, but it’s a fun one.
When I write poetry, as I think is the case with most poets, I am caught up in the heat of a moment. What urges me to write poetry, not being unable to think clearly, needing to express my stream of consciousness, is what makes the end piece, the final project, so interesting. Poetry is a form that allows the writer to express one’s miseries, fears, and anxieties without being concise, or even coherent, on the first try. Revision is a poet’s strongest tool. Poetry allows the writer to let every little thing on their mind on paper (or a computer screen), in a straightforward approach. At that moment, the poet’s only concern is making sense of their thoughts and processing their emotions. Once you’ve let the piece sit for a few hours, maybe even a whole day, the writer can revisit the piece with a fresh perspective. The poet is now able to polish the poem, cleaning up any errors or mistakes they might’ve made in their first draft, that had not been visible during the heat of the moment. This is when the true magic happens.
Through revising and editing, a poet can maintain the original tone and stay true to its meaning. The emotion is on the paper, but now the poet has to polish up certain words or phrases to let the feeling really come through to the reader. The beauty of poems is in the fact that most of them were composed in a heat of rage, a fit of jealousy, an episode of sadness, or a realization that led to reflection. Writing coherent sentences, like I am attempting to do now, requires more thought and care. But with poetry, all grammar rules are pretty much out the window; the boundaries are nonexistent. In poetry, it’s okay if someone reads your work and doesn’t quite understand the meaning you were trying to convey. Poetry is the one form of writing where it is acceptable for the reader to draw their own conclusions, and interpret the piece in their own way.
Telling a story
As writers, we have many stories that we are eager to share with our readers. And, lucky for us, there are various forms and genres of writing which can further bring an experience, circumstance, or situation to life. But some of us are not as skilled as fiction writers when it comes to world-building and developing settings. We want to tell the emotional truth of the story. We want to capture the small moments and make them the important ones.
Some of us crave to tell a story without elaborating on every little detail. That’s where poetry comes into play. Poetry can be as short or long as you please. The shortest poem ever has only three words. What makes poetry such a sacred art form, is the stories told with so few words. Poetry doesn’t waste a second of the reader’s time. More often than not, you’ll read a poem and wish it was longer. Telling a story in 300 pages takes true talent to draw the reader in for that long, but being able to tell a story in less than three hundred words is a gift of its own.
There is no right way to write poetry. The raw and unfiltered form that poetry provides allows the reader to catch a glimpse into the writer’s stream of consciousness. Every piece of a poem plays a part in conveying a deeper meaning, or feeling. Each stanza, line break, period, or comma, is a paint stroke contributing to the poem’s bigger picture.
The way a poem is formatted says much about what tone or mood the poet may be trying to convey. One can convey a scattered mindset by using line breaks and numerous spaces between words. Or, if you want a poem to appear more thought out, you can stick to a rhyme scheme and have each stanza containing the same amount of lines. At the end of the day, poetry can mean anything. Poems are left to be interpreted by the reader, which is what makes it such a fascinating and mysterious form of writing.
Poetry is the writer’s version of a dream. Being a form that doesn’t require much thought, poetry takes a shorter amount of time to create compared to other forms of writing. Through poetry, the writer is able to create something beautiful out of the darkness they may be experiencing. Poetry provides the writer with relief and the reader with comfort.