Poetry on a Pedestal

At some point in your past one of your teachers dragged a large pedestal out into the middle of the classroom. She then stood on it, complete with royal music and halo-esque light and said “We shall now read from this sacred book of poetry.” From then on, you have this view that poetry is something complicated, something off, something that has to be studied.

Poetry is not something to be hidden away; to be enjoyed by a select few that sit in hardwood offices, drink Lattes and read poetry because they ‘get it’. There is nothing to get. Poetry is language, it is words, it is sound and rhythm, if you speak you can read poetry, if you breath you can understand it.

Those fancy terms you learned in English class: alliteration, metaphor, assonance, hyperbole, etc, they are about style, about form, they are about structure. They are not, however, part of ‘liking’ or ‘getting’ poetry. You can be able to dissect a poem down to each literary device used, to the symbolism, even to the etymology of the chosen words. These things will help you APPRECIATE a poem. But liking it? That is something different.

Read it. Try it out loud. Listen to it. You will like the poem or you won’t.

Does that make these literary devices useless? No. They are still the tools of the trade, the blocks that constructs poems. However, the poet does not (usually) sit and say “In this verse I shall insert a metaphor and precisely four occurances of alliteration.” The poet is writing, picking what they like, taking away what they don’t. Dissection is not a part of the creative proccess (again, usually), so don’t think it is a part of the reading process.

So go, read a poem.

Stages of Writing

Using my own past as reference, I’ve come up with what I see as the stages of writing. Which stage are you in?

Stage One

You realize that you hate everything you have written. You are learning style, form, you understand what you like and don’t. This critical eye is turned inwards, and there you are unhappy.

Because of this stage, you have stopped writing.

Stage Two

You start writing anyway. Coming off of stage one you believe only Greatness deserves to be written down, and nothing else will do. Eventually you overcome this and start to write. It helps if there are deadlines involved.

Stage Three

You realize you were wrong at Stage One. Not totally, this new critical eye is still there, but you have removed it further from yourself. But now you can find the style, the gems, the things from the past worth saving.

Stage Four

You write. Like a bad out of Hell.

Stage Five

You slow down. Here you are distracted. By life, love, school. The pen is second. the pen is third. The pen is when the pen fits in. You still dream, but your dreams are getting forgotten.

There is no Stage Six. There is only dragging your ass back to Stage Four.