LESSON I. What Is A Poem?

LESSON I. What Is A Poem?

A Lesson by Richard 🍃
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The Seven (7) Basics Of Poetry

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I. What Is A Poem?
Richard W. Jenkins ©2019

Introduction


   Some will say poetry is the music of the written word. I would agree and add that like music, poetry has many rhythm forms. In fact, the highly respected James Knapp, English Professor at the University of Pittsburg, explains it like this:
"A poem is a composition written for performance by human voice. What your eye sees on the page is the composers verbal score, waiting for your voice to bring it alive as you read it aloud or hear it in your mind's ear.
The more one understands about musical notation and the principles of musical composition, the more one will understand and appreciate the composer's score. Similarly, the more one understands of versification (principles and practice of writing verse), the more one is able to appreciate poetry, and in particular, the intimate relationship between it's form and it's content. What a poem says or means is the result of how it is said, a fact that poets are often at pains to emphasize."

"All my life," said W. H. Auden, "I have been more interested in technique than anything else."

T. S. Eliot claimed that, "The conscious problems that one is concerned with in the actual writing of poetry, are more those of a quasi-musical nature in the arrangement of metric and pattern, than that of a conscious exposition of ideas."

   It is my personal contention that one does not have to chose technique over ideas, but that the truly accomplished poet becomes skilled enough that they can utilize both to compose amazingly effective poetry, and in fact, this is the pinnacle of what poetry writing is all about.
   Though, there are many schools of thought about this and on what a poem is, I'll keep it as basic as possible by saying, "Generally, a poem is that which the writer and reader discerns and agrees a poem to be!" And, this can be broken down into an amazingly, almost endless, array of definitions, ideas, opinions, philosophies, etc.

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Basically, there are seven (7) widely-recognized and used forms or styles of poetry:
   1) Poetic Prose: unrhymed, unmetered, highly expressive, image-laden, deeply meaningful words of imagery, emotion, and metaphor, utilizing highly impressive word arrangements, in normal paragraph, indentions, capitalization, punctuation, etc; this is not Prose (normal talking).
   2) Free Verse: unrhymedhighly expressive, image-laden, deeply meaningful words of imagery, emotion, and metaphor, utilizing highly impressive word expression, arranged in unmetered lines and verses, with well-timed line-breaks, normally capitalized and punctuated (but, this is at the  author's discretion).
   3) Free Style: intermittently rhymedhighly expressive, image-laden, deeply meaningful words of imagery, emotion, and metaphor, utilizing highly impressive word expression, arranged in unmetered lines and verses, with well-timed line-breaks, normally capitalized and punctuated (but, this is at the  author's discretion).
   4) Unmetered Rhymed Verse: two (2) or  more lines with end rhymes, without a set syllable count or meter, including Rhyming Couplets (2-line verses), Quatrains (4-line verses), Sestets (6-line verses), etc. 
   5) Metered Rhymed Verse: at least two (2) or  more lines rhymed with end lines, and with a set syllable count/meter, including Rhyming Couplets (2-line verses), Quatrains (4-line verses), Sestets (6-line verses), etc. 
   6) Metered Unrhymed Verse: one (1) or  more unrhymed lines, with a set syllable count/meter, including Blank Verse, Rhyming Couplets (2-line verses), Quatrains (4-line verses), Sestets (6-line verses), etc. 
   7) Japanese Poetry: structured, metered, and unrhymed, including the Chōka, Tanka, Renga, Haikai, Renku, Hokku, Senryu, and Haiku, etc. 

   The novice, without benefit of lessons, understanding, and practiced skills in poetic voice, syntax, diction, metaphor, rhythm, flow, line-breaks, imagery, etc; all of the necessary, intricate refinements that magically turn common language into poetry, believes all she or he has to do to compose effective poetry is pick up a pencil and pad and scribble, or sit at the keyboard and type their thoughts, feelings, ideas, emotions … whatever they wish to say, in whatever way they want, or arrange it into some sort of poetic-looking physical format and it's a poem.

   Most beginners are, by far and large, "innocently" ignorant that poetry is a true art form, and that like any other art form, it is based on and built upon a foundation of principles, rules, disciplines, and skills that define it as poetry, rather then merely fancy and/or appealing talking that many may simply relate to in one way or another.

   Poetry is portraying the obvious, as-well-as the miraculous, in a completely un-obvious, miraculous way that swoons the mind, romances the heart, sweeps the senses, removes the world, and transports readers to the universe, into the past, the future, or on a journey through their own consciousness in a manner nothing else can … it is painting masterpieces onto the canvas of the mind and into imagination … moving, steering, luring, captivating, enchanting, amazing, etc; the mind's-eye as nothing else ever has, will, or can.

   This level of power does not happen by accident; nor, is is possible for the unenlightened, uneducated, or misinformed to accomplish … at least, not on the level and to the extent a proficient, practiced, accomplished, and truly skilled poetess or poet can.

   In addition, many (perhaps, most) novice poets have little or no idea that the soul of poetry is poetic forms, or that poetry even has formats that make poetry poetry.

   If you're a beginner, seek lessons from a skilled teacher before you develop poor writing habits that will be extremely hard to break, and if you are an experienced writer who lacks in certain skills you need to compose in the way(s) you want to, seek lessons from a skilled teacher … you can never go wrong when you do.

   So, here we are, prepared for your next new lesson toward being that accomplished poet you always wanted to be: "What Is Meter?"


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Be sure to ask any questions you might have, comment on anything you wish,
and/or anything you disagree with … discussion is the heart of learning.
And, by all means, leave feedback on what you think, feel, etc.
Please, share your thoughts and leave feedback, as this is
the only way I know if I've done poorly or well, and
I need your input to learn and grow from.
Thank you for reading my lessons.
(Don't forget to check out
my Blogs on poetry.)
Anything else you'd
like lessons on?
Let me know.


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Comments

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Posted 2 Weeks Ago


Just started your lessons; am enjoying them, and learning a lot; I mostly write free verse; fairly short poems about slices of life and nature; try to be concise with breaks whenever a thought ends; But this will be a challenge for me!!!

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Posted 2 Months Ago


Ah, Lady Renée,
What a wonderfully endearing and encouraging commentary you've gifted this all-important lesson.
It is so promising to know there are those, like You, who understands and approves the importance of learning the art of our great craft correctly.
I will soon complete all three of my lessons and look forward to your feedback on how you're progressing through them each.

Brightest blessings of sincere thanks! ⁓ Richard 🍃

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Posted 2 Months Ago


Thank you sincerely, Mary,
I heartily appreciate your reading this lesson, and for assuring me my efforts found suitable favor with You. : )

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Posted 2 Months Ago


Thank you, Susan,
For reading and following my lessons, and for commenting here on this one. : )

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Posted 2 Months Ago


Sir Richard,
Finally, substance has come to this area of the Cafe. It is a grand sight to see you sharing your gifts for all! I look forward to reading your lessons, and experimenting.

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Posted 5 Months Ago


Nice to see this

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Posted 5 Months Ago


Following and thank you for the lessons. :-)
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Richard 🍃
Richard 🍃

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