101: What are you writing about?A Lesson by Chris T.
The first step to making a complex piece is understanding what you are writing about.
One can distill poets into two distinct groups:
1. The Emotional Poets
2. The Technical Poets
Let me explain briefly what each variation consists of:
1. The Emotional Poets- These poets' expertise lies in capturing the emotion of a relationship, a heartbreak, the loss of a loved one, and so on. They understand emotion, and their words portray this fact.
2. The Technical Poets- These poets' expertise lie in utilizing mechanics and vocabulary to paint less of a "Kodak Moment" and more of an "abstract art". They are masters of punctuation, line breaks, accents, and so on. Their words, while still meaningful, give way to presentation.
My point in sharing this information is not to assess you as a poet (although it may help to figure out your strengths), but instead to present the overall purpose of this course; we want to blend these two groups together.
We shall finish up this introductory lesson by assessing an example on the basis of "emotion" and "mechanics", and we will see how we can rework it slightly to be more "layered".
We held each other,
Our tears and the cloud's mixing,
For today was the day
we would be torn apart
and we were helpless to the fact.
I just came up with that on the spot for the purpose of this lesson, so you will have to excuse it's quality. Let us just assess the purpose and mechanics of this piece as it stands.
1. The theme is one of inevitable heartbreak. They want to stay in each others arms, but fate has determined that cannot happen.
2. The mechanics are, well, very lacking (I did this intentionally). We see slight rhyming within the third line, but it is otherwise sparse. This will be fun to clean up.
Many people are content to just punch out a piece in the heat of the moment. I admit, I do this as well. However, I also take several days after the initial piece has been written to look for small changes I can make that will not alter the overall theme, message, and impact of the piece. Let us now rework the piece quickly to see how much better it can be with just a little touch up paint:
We clutched one another,
Our tears and the skies intertwined,
Today was the day,
our earth would quake,
and it's not our fault.
Line One: I changed out the word "held" for "clutch". Clutch just paints a clearer picture, and it typically is associated with a stronger emotion. Simple.
Line Two: I changed out the latter half to provide more "word music". It flows better as the reader progresses, and allows us a writer to continue the imagery without sacrificing poetic license.
Line Three/Four/Five: This is the portion I changed significantly. The weak imagery of the initial example held the piece back and tossed it into "cliche" zone. The edited version gives the piece a certain voice. They loved each other so much it took a metaphorical earthquake to pull them apart. The astute reader would also notice the clever use of "fault" in this piece. Faults are typically associated with earthquakes, so when they say it is not their "fault", they are saying their actions are not the cause of their separation.
Through the very brief discussion of this simple example, we can see how editing and inclusion of small details can make writing and reading poetry more gratifying. As I find time to update this course, we will examine the thought process to work in details, as well as provide constant examples and analysis.
Also, if you are interested in providing some of your work for the updates, feel free to message me or leave a comment with a link to your piece, and I will try to include it as an example in the next lesson!
Thank you for reading.
Added on January 27, 2010
Last Updated on January 27, 2010
AboutHi. *The Obligatory 'Why I Write' Section" Why I write poetry- it challenges one to paint a vivid picture with words, and it tasks one with eliciting an emotion in a short time span. Quite tricky..