Do you like poetry or are you one of those people who find it incredibly boring and dry? Are you convinced it's a totally different genre of writing from your own and has no use for you? Well, I am here today, ladies and gentlemen, to convince you otherwise! Last fall semester I did a poetry class towards my Certificate in Creative Writing and learned a TON about the craft which I had no idea about before. I've always enjoyed poetry to an extent but understanding it better gave me a whole new appreciation for it. Today I am going to talk about why I think the art and act of writing poetry can greatly benefit one's writing in many ways, shapes and forms. Don't believe me? Here are five examples below in my case for writing poetry...
1. IT TEACHES YOU "SHOW, DON'T TELL" BETTER THAN ANYTHING WILL EVER
As a writer I'm sure you've heard the age-old mantra "show, don't tell"? And we all know what that means: a technique employed to enable the reader to experience the story through actions, thoughts, senses and feelings rather than the author's description, exposition and summarization. Yes, this is basically the unspoken rule of writing. And it's true, a story becomes so much more effective when the reader understands it through your bang-on sensory details and awesome word choice rather than you telling them exactly what to think or feel. But in poetry, showing is the only option you have if you want to write anything worth reading at all - nothing will kill a poem faster than you just talking about something. In poetry, you as the writer have such limited space to speak and you absolutely MUST take advantage of that. Also, the way poetry as a genre is written, telling instead of showing simply doesn't work.
Take a look at this line from one of my recent poems for example:
A dark girl stands in the doorway. Mantled in midnight blue, brown hair blizzard-blown; beautiful.This is showing. If it were telling, it would be something more like this...
A girl with dark skin stands in the doorway. Dressed in dark blue with her brown hair messy from the wind outside; she is beautiful.Obviously both these lines describe the exact same thing, but which is more aesthetically pleasing and interesting for a reader? The first one (I hope!). Writing like that is really amplified in poetry and the act of practicing it will aid you in showing, not telling, in your prose as well.
2. IT GETS YOU IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF A LOT MORE QUICKLY THAN JUST WRITING
When I write poetry it is almost always angsty and dramatic - that's the kind of poet I am. But I've found in my writing that poetry allows me to explore my world and myself a lot more than I had before - and certainly more than I do in my prose. Poetry is an excellent personal expression and really helpful in getting you to sit and think and consider things. It certainly makes you more self-aware (not that I needed any help there, lol, I consider myself hyper-self-aware to a fault). But if you are the sort of person who enjoys self-discovery, consider writing some poetry! Of course writing in general usually sheds some light on the kind of person you are deep down, but this can be amplified in poems. To the MAX! So try it, I'm convinced you might learn something new...
3. POETRY IS ANOTHER FORM OF WRITING EXERCISE - AND HAS THE ADDED BENEFIT OF BEING A SHORT ACCOMPLISHMENT
You know those days when you want to write but you don't really want to write your WIP or your other WIP or your blogpost and you just need a fresh, new space? Instead of following a plot bunny trail consider.... (you guessed it) penning a poem! It's generally a shorter effort than an actual story and can really help you clear the cobwebs out of your brain and get the gears running again. Maybe you could even write a poem about your WIP? The possibilities of poetry are endless and provide a great form of writing exercise. Who knows, the subjects of your poem may so inspire you that you want to write a whole entire story based on them?
(That kind of happened to me with my Medusa poem...)
|sorry, you'll probably have to enlarge it, it's kinda long|
4. POETRY LITERALLY IMPROVES YOUR WRITING ABILITY
When you write poetry, your words have to multitask, they have to be able to say a million different things all at once - because you only have so many of them to work with. Poems can drag on for a long time, but most of us tend to write on the shorter side I think, and whether or not, sentences are constructed carefully to be as precise and eloquent as possible. Does this do wonders for your writing in general? Does it give you better words and better brains?
|not really but i like to pretend i have a grandiose sense of self-worth|
5. POETRY IS *ACTUALLY* FUN!?
No, no! Don't lose me there! Calm yourself and come back to the computer. Slowly...slowly...there. Yes, what I said is true. As a writer, I find that poetry can be immensely fun and entertaining. It's one of my favorite ways to write. I know the stuff they made you do in elementary school was so...well, elementary! that your brains melted out of your ears, and in high school they wanted you to write poems about this or that for different school projects, but trust me, taking control of the helm and writing what YOU want to write is the best thing ever. When you realize that poetry is in fact, not a chore, but a splendid experience designed to release your inner feelings, grow and diversify your vocabulary and make you look super edgy and hipster then how can you help but fall in love with it? Seriously, what is wrong with you for thinking otherwise! Be ashamed! Dishonor!
|Disney themed gifs ftw|
If you enjoyed my snippets and are inspired to start writing your own poetry, tumblr is chock-full of young and excellent poets and a good resource to sift through. And of course there are always the classics (Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath are some of my favorites). If you want to check out more of my work you can do so by following the link to my poetry page on tumblr: vvittaee (you don't need a tumblr account to view).
Hope you guys enjoyed reading my case for poetry. Are you a writer who likes to dabble in poetry? Or have you been kind of meh about the whole thing? Let me know your opinions below!