ThoughtsOfAnEnglishMajor

My thoughts on life.

Poetry: Friend or Foe?

Language is power.

This semester I am taking a creative writing course that is divided into two sections: fiction and poetry. In the beginning of the year, the class had to write short stories, develop characters, create tone through adjectives. In this second half we are writing in stanzas, keeping rhythm, and focusing on the ambiguity behind the idea. In a week from now I have to turn in a poem that will be critiqued by the class in front of me. Oh, did I mention that I am not allowed to speak during the critique?

My relationship with poetry could be compared to the relationship between a cat and a dog. Poetry always barks at me, threatening me with its rhyme scheme, feet, stanzas; it scares me. It is a world full of ambiguity, raw ideas, and great analogies that can sometimes span half of a page. Meanwhile, I am the cowering cat, stuck in the corner, with its back arched and hairs on edge. I hiss at its presence. In short, it’s not for me.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

I am a guy who likes making ideas come to life in the reader’s mind. I am a guy who likes facts, occasionally mystery, but mostly the broad range of reactions a person can have to a single event, to a fact. I love constructing places with their grand arches or luminous ceilings. I enjoy creating full, round characters who have personalities so their own that even as I write I don’t know what they will do.  I like being able to envision an entire world based on a single character and how they react to that world.

Poetry is not exactly my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, I believe poetry can have all those things listed in the above paragraph. However, I find that I cannot be as open in my creativity when I am thinking about if this word stays within the pentameter or whether my stanzas have a visual flow.  If I am being really honest, it’s simply because I am too lazy. If a story pops into my mind, the world seems to create itself. I just happen to be the first witness. I really cannot take credit because for me it comes natural.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

As a youth, I would spend hours in my room playing by myself. I do have siblings: a sister eight years older and two brothers about ten years younger. Due to that gap in ages, I was raised as an only child. Meaning all those things you did with your sibling I did by myself like riding a bike, playing in the sandbox, going to the playground, messing around in mud, but most importantly, playing pretend. That ability to foster an entire world just to entertain yourself comes in handy when you have to choose hair color, height, or building size.

I will end this post with my pathetic attempt at poetry:

Tossed like the ocean, battered and broken.

My thoughts only matter when they are spoken.

I’m not a lyricist or a great poet,

but I will admit it; I will own it.

Wish me luck next week!!

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4 thoughts on “Poetry: Friend or Foe?

  1. I’m just like you. I prefer writing stories than poetry and only rarely do I feel like writing some (and more than poetry, I think of them as a bunch of incoherent phrases and thoughts because I don’t work on them too much), but perhaps it is important to a degree. Poetry helps “decorate” writings, if you allow me to use that phrase, and helps us say things or events in different ways. Anyway, I know people who love poetry and don’t like stories much so there’s something out there for everyone.

  2. You know…. That paragraph that started… “I am a guy that likes…” could easily be turned into a poem. 🙂

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