Encouragement For The Aspiring Poet
Getting Started: Discover
(President John F. Kennedy presents a Congressional Gold Medal to poet Robert Frost, 1962)
‘I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.’
–Robert Frost (1874-1963)
• Sitting down with a blank sheet of paper, a pen, and a vague idea is a very exciting thing. As you ponder and jot down thoughts, a poem will begin to unfold.
• It’s okay if you are unclear about what you’re writing: use this as a gateway to discovery.
• When it comes to getting started, it’s okay if you feel stuck. One way to fix this problem is to have a goal in mind. What exactly are you trying to convey with your poetry? What point do you want to get across?
Keep It Simple
‘Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something. Don’t use such an expression as ‘dim land of peace.’ It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realising that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstractions.’
–Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
• Don’t use too many abstractions; call a thing what it is.
• Try to avoid clichés!
• Experiment with your writing. It’s okay to write a poem and then play around with the order of the lines and stanzas. If you’re feeling really adventurous, cut up the paper on which you wrote your poem and rearrange the pieces to create something completely original.
• When it comes to writing poetry, one shouldn’t be verbose.
• Instead, keep it simple! Use as few words as possible to get an idea across. Simply describe what you see, hear, smell, etc.
• Use concrete imagery (things a reader can actually imagine clearly upon reading).
“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”
• Be honest with your thoughts. Try to express your real emotions while writing poetry.
• Use elements of craft such as metaphor and simile in order to convey an emotion effectively.
• Try to avoid too much rhyming.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
– Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), A Defense of Poetry, 1891
Poets are the best record keepers.
• For poetry to be any good it has to reveal something important. Write about the times in which you live. • For example: how do you feel during this pandemic? Use this precarious time to get your thoughts down on paper. Try to describe your feelings using concrete imagery that is relatable.
• Don’t forget to proofread and revise! Sometimes a poem needs time to breathe; it’s okay to leave it for a while, think about what you’ve written and then write and revise some more.
A Haiku A Day
• In order to keep your writing skills fluid, one should practice every day.
• Attempt to write a daily haiku; it’s an easy way to start and is an effective exercise.
• A haiku is a Japanese poetry form and usually deals with the subject of nature. “Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line.”
• An example of a haiku is as follows:
“The Old Pond” by Matsuo Bashō
• An old silent pond
• A frog jumps into the pond—
• Splash! Silence again.
• Don’t only give yourself the gift of poetry but consider sending a loved one a poem. During these stressful times when we’re all lonely for our friends and family, try sending a handwritten poem in the mail. It’ll make for the perfect present!
For more information on the topics mentioned in this blog along with helpful tips for beginning writers, consult the websites below: