I’ve never got poetry. It’s one of those things that just leaves me flat. Unless the words are dirty or funny (as in song lyrics), my eyes glaze over after a few words or lines. However, that’s just me. The same goes for quotes. Oftentimes, I read thrillers that start with some obscure quote from so-and-so. If I read the entire quote, I usually end up scratching my head, and go “whaaa?”
That’s the same feeling I get off poetry. It just doesn’t sink in.
Then again, I can’t help it. It’s the power of words, but that magic only works on some people. Only some people get it.
Thought there is a market for poetry, poetry is a tough sell. I’ve been to a lot of writer’s conferences as those of you who have been with me for a while know. I have plenty of experience and anecdotal evidence to back this up. I’ve witnessed up-and-coming…aspiring poets attempting to pitch their poetry to agents, only to more often than not, get a cringe, or a polite no.
Poetry is a niche market, like icky bug (horror). It’s another one of those bastard children of the publishing industry. There are people that love it, but the big five usually don’t think it’s “marketable enough” for mass sales.
In the case of icky bug, which if it’s lucky enough to make it into stores at all, is usually mixed in with general fiction. Poetry is more widespread, though like icky bug, I think it too, is mixed in with fiction, though I may be wrong. What I do know is that you’re more likely to find it on the shelf. You’re also more likely to get published in a collection with other poets, or, as part of one of those (cringe) contests. Now, if you have enough pull, you may rate a full-fledged stand-alone book.
Without going into detail (which would really show my ignorance), I can say poetry comes in many forms. Some of them are (thanks Wikipedia):
Sonnet: From the middle ages which are complex in structure.
Shi: From classical Chinese. Rhyming is obligatory.
Villanelle: Made of nineteen lines, five triplets with a closing quatrain.
Tanka: A Japanese unrhymed poem with five sections totaling 31 units in a 5-7-5-7-7-7 pattern (yeah, I’m scratching my head at that one, too).
Haiku: A Japanese unrhymed poem with three sections totaling 17 units in a 5-7-5 pattern.
Ode: From ancient Greek. Three parts. Okay, Bobby Gentry comes to mind.
Ghazal: From Arabic. Five to fifteen rhyming couplets.
As you can see, poets have a lot on their plate to consider. None of it means much to me. I’ll stick with the humorous or dirty song lyrics from Frank Zappa or AC/DC. That’s about the limit of my poetry interest. Plus, despite the descriptions above, I have no idea which form song lyrics fits into. Go figure.
However, for those of you that take this seriously, you know far more than I do about this subject. This is a fascinating and contemplative matter to you and to fans of the genre.
I see no difference in creating poetry as opposed to creating a short story or a novel. You, the poet, have to, or should know A and B. Your poem has to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Am I right?
Maybe not. Maybe that’s not it at all.
On the other hand, your poem has to have some kind of point. It has to convey a message. The language you use must convey a thought, something your audience can understand.
Is the purpose of your poems to convey half-thoughts?
Is it to convey half-feelings?
Is it to convey half a mood?
When you sit down to write (or type) your blast of consciousness, can you sit back and know you conveyed what you wanted to convey?
Or, are you just raising questions? Is your purpose not to have a beginning, middle and end?
Poetry may not always be the same as a complete story like what regular story writer’s do. Poems can be abstract thoughts, feelings, sparks of ideas.
It could be that your collection of poems, put together, create a collective idea. Maybe they don’t at all. Maybe they just generate an atmosphere and that’s their whole purpose.
Therefore, you still have to know A and B, the beginning and the end. However, the beginning and the end might not be the same thing as a complete story. Maybe A and B are not a story at all. They’re nothing more than a question. Maybe they’ a feeling. Maybe they’re an emotion.
Looking at the best and most popular poets, what does their poetry do? What are their goals? What do they accomplish? Do they have an A and a B?
Regardless of what you want to call it, your poetry has to have some sort of plan. It can’t just be a bunch of words. It must have some sort of organization…it must have a point. If it has no point, you’re wasting your reader’s time. They’ll not appreciate it.
You, the poet, have to think about that when you sit down to put those words on paper or in the ether.