Pondering Poetry: What’s a Poet to Do?

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Poetry-cover-public-DomainI love to read poetry. It makes me feel in a way that little else does.

I also love to write poetry. If I am honest (and I believe I am an honest person), I think I mostly write bad poetry. Sigh. But every once in a while I get an internal “YES!” from something I’ve written. I wish I could get more of those.

Writing poetry is an interesting thing. If you ever want to stop a conversation in its tracks, mention you write and read poetry. Most Americans (in my experience) steer clear of the neatly-wrapped packages we call poetry. Even very successful poets rarely become rich or famous or widely read. (Don’t believe me? Next time you’re in line getting coffee ask the person in front of you who the current US Poet Laureate is.) And getting published can be challenging – it is often a matter of whether or not the particular poem is a good fit for a publication … or maybe even that issue. Did you just finish a masterpiece on running shoes that elevates this everyday item to the level of the gods? Great! Celebrate your genius! But if the journal has already accepted (or published in the recent past) a poem that mentions shoes, running shoes, running, etc., etc., etc. … keep hitting “submit.”

You may find yourself asking, What’s the point? Why bother writing poetry at all?

There are many answers to this question which come from the physiological to the philosophical arenas. The bottom line for most of us is that we can’t help it. We write it even when we don’t mean to write poetry. Or, you could be in an MFA program and find yourself in a class that requires you to write poetry (eh-hem… present company included). And as I’ve mentioned before, if you’ve never written poetry you can find plenty of reasons to start.

Here are a few articles I read this weekend to keep me motivated and excited about writing poetry.

  1. Five Reasons to Write Poetry by Vic Vosen
    I love things that are short and sweet but full of interesting information. Plus how could I resist an article written by an author with such a cool, alliterative name?
  2. Improving Your Writing through Poetry by Melissa Donovan
    This author explains how doing the work of poetry will help you improve your ability to connect to readers on multiple levels…
  3. Five Ways How to Write a Poem by Robert Lee Brewer
    Another shortie and sweetie. What I like about this article is that it offers concrete jumping-off points to get started…
  4. Un-think Your Poetry: How to Write Better Poems from Writer’s Relief
    Ahhhh… I feel a great weight being lifted just reading this article. This is how I tend to approach poems, and find that when I let go a little I tend to write better …
  5. Ten Tips for Being a Successful Poet from BBC News and Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion
    I was taught that if you want to be successful you should learn from the best, so this weekend I sought out tips from Sir Andrew Motion, poet extraordinaire. His fifth tip especially resonated with me…

Remember: Sharing Is Caring
With that in mind tell me … do you write poetry? Have you read anything that gets you excited about poetry? Or do you detest poetry – please tell me why! Of course, if that’s the case you probably didn’t make it this far. 😉 



9 Comments Add yours

  1. DMGbyrnes says:

    I’ve loved poetry since I can remember. Two poets whose words I first fell in love with were Robert Frost and Dorothy Parker, though I feel sure there were others. I wrote a LOT of poetry in high school, it seemed the only way I could attempt to understand my life at the time and what had happened in it up until that point. I always return when a line catches me, though lately I’ve been trying to make it more of a weekly thing. Trying to write at least one poem and one short story every week; not always doing both, but usually one or the other so far! It’s a start.

    Some of those articles look pretty interesting, thank you so much for sharing!I hope you will be sure to keep writing your poetry, it’s the only way you will get better. Plus, who cares? Enjoy. If you want to make something “good” or “good enough” to send somewhere later, that’s fine, but initially, write for you. Thanks so much for this post, Kat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat says:

      Thank you for your encouragement! I like the goals you have. I need to set up better structure after I finish my MFA program, and that sounds like a doable plan!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DMGbyrnes says:

        Of course! Any time 🙂 Thank you. I find I do much better with a ready list of goals to be working on or else I feel like I’m stagnating. As I said, I don’t always meet them, but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. vhosking says:

    I know what you mean about stopping conversation. People look at me as if I’m alien when I say I write poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat says:

      Viva las aliens! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. S.K. Lamont says:

    Oh wow, Kat! I LOVE reading poetry and occasionally write bad poetry, but I totally get the ‘what’s the point’ vibe. I do think as a writer it just sort of leaks out anyway, so thanks for the handy links. I’m going to bookmark this and maybe dip a toe in and see what happens. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kat says:

      Thanks, SK! You never know … sometimes we start with a toe and end up swimming. =)


  4. James Stack says:

    I know the feeling of not being able to help myself, or sitting down and the poem flows out. I also know the feeling of the poem being crap – but those I then save as “ideas” and go back to them and see if something can be made of them. But then I’ve had more poems accepted for publication than stories, so maybe they aren’t all bad. Funny how I think the ones that are super are usually not the ones accepted, but the one I added at the last minute because they would accept more than I had offered. It is so subjective. And, yes, I love poetry. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

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