Take Note if You Want to be Taken Seriously as a Poet
Let’s say you’re an aspiring poet. If friends, family and some acquaintances think your poetry’s hot stuff, don’t start thinking you’ve got what it takes to be published. The world you’re trying to enter might just close the door in your face.
If you want to get your poems published, don’t seek advice from the people you know (unless you know literary agents, poets, publishers, etc.), rather seek advice from people with experience in the industry.
What makes a poem what it is?
Poetry differs from prose in many ways. The most obvious difference is the language. When writing a book, the author has more time to capture the reader. The poet doesn’t. He has to grab your attention in a much more direct way. In a book, the language flows. In a poem, the language forces you to stop and think.
A poem is the black dot on a white page
We all know about background. It’s the feature we don’t really notice, but it’s there to give shape to the subject. In poetry it’s the other way round. Poets use various techniques to get your attention. It’s called foregrounding. In this case, you would read a poem and some words just jump out at you. This is how poets get your attention. It’s one of the most basic elements of poetry.
Rhyme – the old friend
When most people think about poetry they think about rhyme. A fair amount of amateur poems have a rhyme scheme, but not all poems use rhyme. Such poems are known as free verse poems. Alan Rankin (wiseGeek) explains that rhyme in poetry establishes the structure of the poem, and also gives the poem a pleasant arrangement.
A different kind of comparison
Metaphors are another important part of poetry. It’s both the hardest and the easiest aspect of writing poetry. It involves a comparison, but without using words like ‘like’ and ‘as’. It’s useful because it describes things in completely unexpected ways.
It has form
Form refers to the overall structure of the poem – the type of poem, if you will. Take for example the sonnet. This is an example of form. All sonnets have fourteen lines. The form gives the poet a limited area in which to produce the poem.
It’s got a beat
Meter refers to the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of a poem. Mark Wollacott (wiseGeek) writes that meter provides a rhythmic structure to a poem.
Still want it?
Those are only some of the factors that go into writing a poem. If all you’re using is rhyme or none of these features at all, then you need to consider if you really want to be a poet.
Written by David Hendricks
Image credit: summoonedbyfells, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr