Writing Poetry

What were your early experiences with poetry? When did you write your first poem? Was it at school? Was if for your mom or dad? Was it to a boy or a girl? Was it for a holiday? Many of you will be able to remember some early attempts at writing poetry. Some of you may not. In any event, poetry reading and writing holds a certain fascination because it enables us to express thoughts and feelings in ways that we cannot in prose. We are able to reach deep inside and discover an inner world that is hidden from others.

I asked these questions about your first involvement with poetry because I discovered some poems I had written when I was ten to twelve years old. I found them to be sweet and warmly written. Most were about holidays: Christmas, Easter, Halloween and one was to my mother at Christmas time. They were probably assignments from 6th, 7th or 8th grade English. I can remember my first grade teacher, Miss Gazolla (Yes, her real name!), had us write simple poetry in first grade. I have some old papers from those years and a poem or two may be among them. I share one of my early poems with you here today. It reflects the simple, carefree attitude of childhood.


It happened one day,
A mild day in May,
When all of the trees started to sway.

 You could tell it was Spring,
By the air and its ring,
And all of the birds began to sing.

Now, Spring Fever is here,
And lasts throughout the year,
When you find someone you love.          

Many of our earliest experiences with poetry were probably with nursery rhymes such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". We may also have read Dr Suess books, such as The Cat in the Hat or poems about Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne in the collection of poems entitled When Were Very Young. You could probably name dozens of others that were popular in your family.

I've come across a lot of folks writing free-verse poetry on Google+. This style has become very popular. and are poems written in either rhyme or un-rhymed lines that have no fixed, metrical pattern. Robert Frost once said that writing poems in this style is "like playing tennis without a net." He may have meant that playing tennis without a net changes the game completely and maybe even like playing with no rules. So, free-verse poetry allows for a great amount of freedom in writing verse.

I've been reading a textbook about writing called, Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction and Drama (Sixth Edition) by Stephen Minot. I'd like to share a few lines from his book, from page 7.

"What is a good poem? This question invites a second: good for what? If a poem is intended for a mass market--as greeting cards are--it should have a positive message and be phrased in unvaried metrical limes with a regular rhyme scheme...it should soothe, not probe."

So, many poems that are written, fit this description. Minot goes on to describe poetry as simple and sophisticated. Simple are just that simply written and easy to understand. Ogden Nash 's poetry is more complex than a nursery rhyme but not as complex as a poem by Dylan Thomas. He describes sophisticated as poems that are complex. They probe, share personal experiences and feelings. These poems search deep and demand more thought and feeling from the reader than a simple poem. One is not better than the the other, but they ask different responses from the reader. A poet can move from one to the other, from simple to sophisticated. A poet can be as free or constrained as he wants or needs to be in his poetry.

Let me ask, what poems have you attempted to write simple or sophisticated poetry? If you have not tried to write poetry, why not start today? Whether you write for private consumption or public viewing, I challenge you to begin writing poetry today!

©  ajwrites57 2013

Photo of Poetry By Joanna on flickr

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