Word Music: Poetry in Action
April Is National Poetry Month, so every Wednesday this month Word Play Wednesdays will be given over to encouraging you to make poetry a part of your life.
Poetry can be intimidating, but I love poetry because I have learned how engage with it with a sense of playfulness. Over the next four weeks I am going to encourage you to do the same.
First of all I am going to give you my definition:
Poetry is simply words having fun.
It is like finger painting with language to create something unique and free.
It is word music.
Now, that doesn’t sound too scary, does it? Poetry can be fun to read, share, memorize and write if it you come to it with an attitude of play and joy.
When I taught young children, our April poetry unit was always one of the highlights of the year. Children are naturally poetic in their utterances, writing, and love of word play. Since they had not developed a fear of poetry, my students always amazed me with their stunningly beautiful and original poems.
Somehow as we get older we leave our natural poet behind. Most of us have had the poetry schooled right out of us because we were required to analyze the “deep” meaning of poems, or identify the kind of rhyme or meter it contained, or been forced to write poems on topics not of our own choosing or in a form that was intimidating.
Forget all of that. Remember: poetry is just words having fun. In our previous Word Play Wednesdays we have been warming up to poetry with our explorations of collecting special words, using alliteration, and creating original similes and metaphors. All of those exercises can be used to help us create poems.
So why should you write poetry?
When you create a poem you are expressing your thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas using vivid images and specific words. Poetry has the power to articulate emotions and to transport and/or transform both the writer and the reader.
As I have said before you see the world in a way no one else does. Your thoughts, feelings and perspectives are specific to you and you alone. Writing helps us figure out what we know, what we think and what we feel, and then communicate it to others. Poetry is especially suitable for this.
Before we get started, I need to tell you the rules for writing poetry:
Rule 1. THERE ARE NO RULES.
Rule 2. See rule 1.
Poems can be long or short. They can rhyme or not. They can take a specific form or no form at all. They can be about anything at all. They can be silly, sentimental, happy, angry, sad, satirical or heartfelt. They don’t even have to have capital letters or punctuation. THERE ARE NO RULES. What other forms of writing can make that claim? If there are no rules, then there are no mistakes. How freeing is that?
So let’s write a poem.
I want you to choose an emotion: love, hate, jealousy, pride, gratitude, happiness, joy, despair, fear, embarrassment, courage, selfishness, generosity, agony, dread. Choose one that produces a strong image for you.
You may want to begin each line of your poem with your word or you can describe it and then reveal it at the end, or simply use it as your title.
Then you will use similes or metaphors to tell what the emotion is like. You can compare it to a color, an animal, an element of nature, an action and so on. When you feel that you have adequately described that emotion, you are done.
Here’s one I wrote just now :
Fear stalks in silence on quiet paws
Fear has sharp teeth and
Fear is black and grey
Fear slips out of the shadows
To snatch my dreams.
But fear is slow
And hope is a swift sword.
Give it a try. Be a word painter! Have some fun with words.
If you wish, post your poem in the comments. I would love to see what you wrote!