Every Childlike Author needs a Playground.

Thoughts on Poetry from behind a Bunker

Image Courtesy of arniesairsoft.co.uk

The landmines are buried in front of it, carefully hidden underneath the turf.

Since I gave some background on the two short stories I recently posted, I thought I might do the same for the little poems I already had on the site. But the tiny blurbs I have for them would make for a short blog post, so I’ve decided to insert a few of my ideas on the subject of poetry while I’m at it. You can imagine how nervous I am, considering how deadly serious some people take their poetry, and I may have built a bunker in preparation.

The first poem on the list is Looking Again. It has the benefit of concrete imagery which isn’t present in the other two, and which is so important to good writing. Abstract concepts are nice, but they’re better when expressed concretely. Vivid imagery is important for ease of comprehension and for creating a deeper impression on the reader. Imagery aside, this one is my favorite for a different reason: it rhymes.

Nothing makes a poem better than rhyme. You can write all the haikus you like, or you can write in iambic pentameter as Shakespeare did, but if it doesn’t rhyme it’s missing an element that could make it exactly seven hundred twenty-five times better. Some poets like to focus solely on form or how the poem looks on the page, which is a fine focus, but imagine if their resulting works of poetry had great form, appealing aesthetics, and rhymed. Technically speaking the poems would be delightful, though other aspects such as subject and choice of language are also important for writing an unforgettable piece. Rhyme just adds a dimension and rhythm to poetry which can’t be replaced by any other means. (Note: the word rhyme originated from a word that meant “to put in a row.” Incidentally, rhythm results from a repeated pattern. What’s more repetitive—shall we say rhythmic?-–than putting things in a row?)

Anyway, I wrote Looking Again during the dramatic years (high school) to ease a heartbreak. Except I never showed it to the girl whose heart I’d broken. Otherwise it worked wonderfully.

The second poem, Must Dance, is also my favorite of the three, and was also written during the dramatic years. (You may think I can’t have two favorites of three, but just wait until I get to the third one.) What I like so much about Must Dance is the use of the word organs. It begs the question, just what kind of heart is transferring hands? I’ll let you decide that answer.

Technically, I very much wanted to put Must Dance into a mirrored form, somewhat like a Hebrew Chiasm. It would have taken the form AABBC…CBBAA, with each letter representing an idea or concept. In the case of Must Dance, the mirrored form would also have been present in the length of each line, but I had to choose between the form and the logical progression of the work. Ultimately I think keeping the progression logical made the poem better. Besides, it’s almost in mirrored form, right? Alas, this piece does not rhyme—I spent too much time on the form.

The third and last poem, She Was, is also my favorite of the three—my least favorite. Regardless, I wrote this one as a tribute to love at first sight, and it was the first poem I ever wrote that didn’t rhyme (Must Dance was the second). Sigh.

Unfortunately the problems with She Was does not stop at the absent rhyme-verse. The poem simply has very little to recommend it when it comes to form, rhythm, or anything else you may think of. It’s lacking in all respects, and is a dreadful attempt at poetry. The only thing I find redeeming about it is the last line, which takes a much repeated refrain and finishes it. It’s a strawberry glaze on the lemon cheesecake, a nail in the coffin, so to speak, and I like that. The other positive (or negative) is its obvious sentimentality, which could endear it to those who like that sort of thing (or repulse those who don’t).

My only regret for all three of them is that they are not limericks. Limericks are the pinnacle of poetry. Or maybe I only think so because I have never been able to write a good one. But oh how I long to!

I invite you all to read them if you get a chance, but if you want to discuss them with me, you’ll have to get past my bunker’s defenses. Just a warning.

P.S. I favor landmines, so watch your step on the way to my sandbag wall and earthen trenches.

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