Themes and How to Use Them

Themes and How to Use Them

A Lesson by Miss Coral

how to progress themes through imagery and when to watch yourself


I'm not much for pleasantries, so let's jump right in. 

I see a whole lot of poems based around emotion, without actually sharing them. We get what they are, know how they feel, but the poems don't actually make us feel them. Yes, this does go a great deal alongside "showing, not telling", but I think that's one of the most important things to learn.

I see a lot of poems like this: 

Love is a brilliant, sad thing, 
showing us that loneliness comes
as soon as we might find ourselves happy;
I wish that I could find you
or keep you, beat love at its game
because I am tired of being alone, but
it seems like I can never love, 
not for long, anyhow.

Now this: this obviously has a theme. Love gone, loneliness, inevitability. But where is the imagery? Where can find things to picture and imagine and wonder "I'd never really thought of that in that way, but it makes sense now." Or what about the connections we make with things that will carry on with readers as they might look at that imagery later on in their life? How is this going to stick with us, affect us, CHANGE us? Art is about relation, affecting other people emotionally. We want to TOUCH people with our work.

A much easier way of doing this is ditching the abstract. Yes, we want to show emotion, share the way that we feel and that in itself IS abstract, but working through more concrete things is going to make your work so much stronger than if you stick to relying on words like "sad" and "loneliness". We don't want to use the connotations of those words, we want to EXPRESS them. We don't want to put them down and call it a day, tell the other person WHAT to experience, but rather show them HOW. To do this, we use imagery. Imagery, I've found, is best drawn from personal experience. People may not even understand it at first, but if the connotations are drawn from yourself, then how can they be anything but the most basely human thing to use? Try imagery, looking at things from different perspectives, sharing your perspective, play with your diction, try phrases that sound interesting and explore them if you don't understand them at first. Make your own definitions for things, and spend an entire poem describing it. Take something mundane: a potted plant-- now, relate to something that you never would have even considered before for an exercise. Take something cliche and churn it about in your head, and spit something out that disgusts you, delights you, makes you wonder how the f**k it came out of YOUR brain. Don't create things out of thin air, mind, you: look at the world. Change the world by changing YOUR eyes, your perspective, your worldview. Take a look at it like someone else might and make yourself question how you would normally look at it. Feel the weight of your sitting down, standing up, the weight of air on your skin, and try describing it. All those things we normally take for granted are just as important as everything else, if not more so.

Amaze yourself with it. If you work hard enough, there's no way you won't. If you want a second pair of eyes, message it to me and I will work with you on it. I'm always, always available for that, though I don't know how helpful I'd be, because I'm learning as I go along too.

Love is a brilliant, sad thing:
lost in the way your hands slip from mine, 
I swear the breadth of your lifeline is caught, 
imprinted onto the nape of my neck, the traceable
birthmarks on my arms;
you took your hands from my body
and I wept over them, pressed them to my cheeks
and wondered why you couldn't feel me crying.

No matter how hard I try, 
loneliness bites at my wrists, 
slathers at the loss in my stomach,
and you are gone.

Imagery can definitely lengthen a poem, draw it out, but sometimes that's more giving it body than anything else. It fills it up. I'm sorry for the absolutely awful work in here, but I'm typing the lesson as I go, poetry included :P

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to work or collab with me. :)

The poet doesn't invent.  He listens.  ~Jean Cocteau

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out.... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.  ~A.E. Housman

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.  ~Robert Frost

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Posted 5 Years Ago

persy collab + dani collab = imagery avalanche xD

Anyway-- for typing this out as you go, I'd say this is pretty darn good, even the two poems. Writing poetry on the spot is probably one of the hardest things ever in my opinion (but that's just the perfectionist in me). Not only did the lesson sound decent, but you get your point across and prove it well. Such a good teacher, persypersy *pats* ...haha. okay, no.

So, with this course lesson up and running, maybe write a lesson on cutting down on imagery for those who like to pull every last bit of detail they can from the atmosphere and shove it into one poem? :P Y'know, keeping things concise and cutting out the rest unless you're specifically trying to write an abstract piece,... and stuff like that.
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Miss Coral
Miss Coral

Prague, Bohemia, Czech Republic

18 year old girl, third culture kid. I like writing and swing music. Probably not super active.