poetry writing classes

poetry writing classes

The Art of Poetry Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

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1. Introduction to Poetry Writing

Novice poets are the writers with whom we, as educators, need to be concerned, but we are often left with the existing curricula and resources to assist the experienced poets. Yet, if given the necessary tools with which to work, poets have the greatest potential for classical, individual expression. Poetry writing is a mental challenge, an educational discipline, and a creative experience. The rejuvenation of practicing our own analytical thinking, exploring our complex use of language is of most importance. This is an activity that can be enjoyable. With that in mind, many novice poets concerned with reading and understanding the point and enjoyment of writing a poem have met the first major hurdle of this literary genre.

Writing poetry is one of the most artistic and imaginative forms of writing. Because the act of writing poetry, by definition, is creative, the creative aspect of writing a poem is not emphasized as other genres. Schools and readers of the literary genre often forget the original part of the writing of the poem. With a variety of resources available for teachers of poetry, it seems surprising that the needs of teachers and students of poetry writing are unmet. Clear instructional resources or comprehensive detailed pedagogy for writing poetry are rare.

2. Crafting Poetic Language and Imagery

Metaphoric associations can suggest new ways of viewing reality and emotive ways of establishing our connection with it. Traditional poetry genres bring with them common methods for drawing upon (and varying) associative relationships between words and images. Think here of the contrast between love imagery and death imagery across many different poems, ballads, and songs. Although both relate to highly emotional life experiences, the associations with love frequently celebrate the beautiful and life-giving forces, while associations with death often reflect the harmonious and encompassing state of Heaven. Of course life is full of both birth and death experiences, and so the private poet utilizes a range of associative links to create widely differing associations with both ideas of beginning and of ending.

Creating exciting, evocative, and emotional language and imagery in poetry is often the very reason poets become writers in the first place. Being granted this special place in time is at the very heart of every man, woman, and child who have ever lived, and a gift which poets utilize to dramatic and transporting effect in both their lives and their writing. Poetic language and imagery is, for the reader, an immediate and self-declared reintroduction to the private individual, personal speaker, and the specific experiences of others. While poetry’s choice of words, images, and associations are different from those used in everyday speech, it is no less varied in their use of the full resources and patterns of life.

3. Exploring Different Poetic Forms and Structures

Villanelle: A poem of nineteen lines, rhymed according to a particular pattern with the exact repetition of the first and third lines in the final tercet.

Song: A short lyric poem meant to be sung; in popular lyrics of folk or national character, usually expressing the circuitous nature of the human experience.

Rondeau: A type of poetry consisting of 13 lines: two quatrains and a quintet. The form is called the “gathering,” and it consists of two rhyming units.

Requiem: A song, poem, or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person.

Petrarchian: Lyric verse in Italian style or bearing resemblance to Francesco Petrarca; sonnet: a verse with 14 lines and iambic pentameter and having two different rhyme schemes-after Francesco Petrarca.

Pastorale: An idyllic or poetic drama with a rural setting; simple and idyllic charm.

Parallel: A poem in which the lines or the stanzas accompany another poem line by line or in an identical manner.

Ode: An ancient form of stately and elaborate lyrical verse, devoted mainly to the expression of exalted or enthusiastic emotion in a dignified metrical form.

Nebula: The aftermath of the nuclear incineration, an esoteric form of poetry reminiscent of molecules.

Nature Poetry: A category of poetry that refers to a poem of a descriptive or narrative form characterizing nature, feelings rightly springing from natural phenomena, and any simple thought that the ordinary man might have on these topics.

Mask: Archaic, a masque, a poetic drama.

Lilt: An expressive or lively tune or song.

Lay: A poem intended to be sung, a song or melody.

Erratic: A kind of poem in which each part of the poem can stand alone as a poem in itself.

Epode: A kind of poem in which each series ends in the same way or in which each continues the same theme.

Epitaph: A poem intended to be inscribed on or at the side of a tomb.

Elegy: A poem of extreme grief over the death of someone.

Clerihew: A humorous, irregular form, derived from the exaggerated biographies Clerihew used to write about his friends.

Classicism: A poetry conforming to fashionable characteristics before the 19th century.

Cinquain: A five-line poem, the first and fourth lines have two syllables, the second and third have four, and the fifth has two.

Chantey: A song sung by sailors while working, especially a song with alternating solo and chorus parts or words.

Ballad: A simple song or poem that tells a story, sometimes of romance, but often of tragedy.

Aubade: A song or poem greeting or lamenting the dawn.

Alliteration: Repetition of beginning consonant sounds.

Allegory: A narrative having another meaning that the events depicted would suggest.

Acrostic: A poem in which some letter in each line forms a word, then the words are usually related to the theme.

There are many different forms and structures under which a poem can be written. Examples of the most popular forms were provided in previous explanations, including haiku, sonnet, renga, limerick, and tanka. The following is a comprehensive guide on the various and diverse poetic structures that a poem may take.

4. Developing Your Unique Voice and Style

The only way to develop a writing style is to write – and to keep on writing. If you are a beginning poet, it’s important to realize that finding a voice and developing a style won’t happen overnight. It takes time. It takes practice. The process unfolds randomly, deepens with exploration, and is reinforced by discipline. So, experiment and explore. Try different approaches, techniques, and types of poetry writing. Read works by other poets and authors and study various genres. Then set your thoughts, ideas, and reactions on paper. Don’t worry about making mistakes – they are part of the learning process. Over time, reflecting on your own efforts and experiences will help to transform random pieces into a unified whole. If at first you do not succeed, try, try again. Finally, finding your voice and creating your own unique style requires a sensuous familiarity with language and an ability to pay close attention to words, their meanings, and their associations.

Some writers adhere to strict rules in the development of their voice and style, while others might characterize their approach as chaotic. Nonetheless, most agree that style is only skin deep. The fundamental core of your writing style lies within your heart and mind, and this is what differentiates you from others in your chosen area of literary endeavor.

Your unique voice and style can be considered an extension of your personality. Your voice and style come through in everything from how you organize your work to the language and tone with which you describe it.

5. Workshopping and Receiving Feedback

The key to both getting what you need from your writing group and securing your own motivation for poetry (or other creative writing) production is realizing how fierce and resilient your creative vision and spirit is to withstand any form of critique short of that which helps you to make your poem what you want it to be. That’s right, the serious writer of poetry is aware of and alert to several key facts which are not personal to her, despite being about work that grows out of her experience and imaginings. These facts are: You can’t please everyone, so listen to feedback and decide when it’s appropriate and when the reader’s concerns aren’t what your poem’s about. With a bit of practice, this question can be developed into: What is my poem about? What is its purpose? What is its primary vehicle, the image/symbol/stance that drives a reader’s experience of my poem?

Desk: So far we’ve talked about workshopping some in terms of sharing work with peers in creative writing classes. Until now, it’s been less about that than about using peer-writing groups to provide support, due dates, an audience, and examples of types of ‘successful’ poetry you’d like to imitate. However, most poets are looking for more from these groups, particularly as they become more serious about their poetry and are looking to improve their craft. They want feedback, critique, and the kind of response from their colleagues about their work that can motivate real revision, but you don’t want niceties, cheerleading, or teary me-alone-in-my-garret shock at what you’ve written—or you would have brought your poem to your loved ones for its first airing in the world rather than to fellow writers. Desk writes with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, yet knowing that nobody writes in a vacuum.

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