The Poetry Puzzle: Unlock It The Beginner's Way

Updated: Mar 2


Hello fellow writers!

Before we continue, let's get the disclaimer out of the way.

Disclaimer: This post does not have any technical details, so if you are looking for some high end complex stuff, this isn't the post.

But... But... If you like or have an interest in poetry or are a beginner like me, this is the post you'll be able to relate to.

So now that we've established the basics, let's move forward.

I've always loved reading poems. The flow, the slightly different way of stringing words, and the dreamy imagery pulled me towards them. I leaned towards nature poetry and still do. Anything I write needs to have something that connects to nature in any way.

Over the years, I have drifted away from literature; now I'm getting back on track. I began writing poems when I was in school, though it wasn't a continuous exercise. I wrote again a few years later and trust me, it was pathetic. The school poetry was far better.

Life happened again and when I took up an MA in English Literature, I got to read some very beautiful poems that started to pull me in again. But I only read.

Then, bingo! One day I translated a poem from my native language (Telugu) to English. I liked it and wanted to write again. I had no idea about meters (I still don't), but I still wrote. It was something, anything. If you want to do translations as well remember that word for word isn't enough. It makes the poem soulless. The emotion, the feel has to be reflected. And in that process, we might end up adding more flavor to the original. That's fine, at least in my opinion. It makes the poem ours as well.

Next, I wanted to write my own poems. But the inspiration wasn't there. I needed a prompt, an image, a scene to make me think. It was during this time that I met a wonderful woman on Facebook. She was a painter, her paintings were nothing out of this world, yet they were beautiful.

I wrote for a painting of a little girl and sent it to her. She was delighted and gave me the permission to use her works. She even shared my poems on her timeline.

I used to scroll through her paintings and stop at the one that would make me pause in that instant. I would then write immediately, just pouring the words onto the paper.

So the next question was whether to edit or not. This is one point where even the top poets have contradictory feelings. I don't sit down specifically to edit, but I do change a word or two when I type it in the word document. The overall effect remains the same and that is something I cannot really change.

Now, if you're looking for inspiration, you can definitely try my method of using visuals. The metho actually has a name, though I didn't know about it until a few months ago. It's called Ekphrasis.

I was pretty sure my poetry was good and sent it to a magazine. They replied saying it wasn't complicated enough. Well, I don't write about complicated feelings and dark subjects despite the trend. My works are simple, nature based, and lighthearted, even if there is a hint of sadness. If you write some really heart-wrenching poetry, the world will bow down to you. I’ve seen it in general. People seem to be prefer heavy poetry.

Next, let's talk about the styles and forms of poetry: there are too many of them. The rhyme scheme sounds awesome, but then when it is time to write, reality kicks in. And as a beginner, it is better to stay away from them. (But if you have a natural ability to rhyme any word, you’ll be comfortable doing it). You'll never be able to write otherwise. Once you have written a few poems you can venture into other forms.

The first one I tried was the Cascade style. I've written only two pieces till now both totally different from each other. It suited both equally. That's the beauty of this style.

The second style I tried was the Tritina. It was difficult to write. The words should not seem forced, hence more patience was required. I wrote one poem in this style, I'll be going back and doing another soon.

There are more- Nonet, Sonnet, Erasure, etc. (I don't remember the rest). There is haiku though. It's my favorite tiny thing - three lines in total, with a fixed number of syllables in each line. Remember, it's syllables, not words. The reason I'm stressing it is because I messed up by getting confused. Of course, I got it sorted out and now I can write cute haikus, ‘cute’ bring the operative word.

Like any other thing, poetry also needs practice, lots of it. Keep writing. The emotion or effect is very important and so is the flow of words. Some like to use ornamental words, not me though. I have very limited stock of flowery words and I’d rather not use them. My works can be read by a kid and that's how I like it. The advice here is to write how you are comfortable and then gradually step out of your comfort zone.

And guess what, you can get decent feedback for your work, in the Writer's Workout group. Just post it on Fridays and wait for the feedback. We are a bunch of friendly people, so don't get scared.

Jokes aside, I only request you not stop writing poetry. Unless, it is not really your thing. Then you can go back to what you are good at. But until then, let the poems tumble from your pencil (I use a pencil, it's easier to erase than strike out). Finally, I’d like to add my opinion about self-publishing poetry. You will be tempted to publish your poems, but do not do it. Send the poems to websites, magazines, or post in your blog. If they want to publish those, yeah! You are awesome. If not, keep trying to improve the poems. Only if you have loads of money along with a huge circle of loyal friends who will buy your book instead of asking for free copies, do not go for self-publishing. If you are wondering why I am emphasizing this so much, it is because I have attended/read some poetry collections that made me literally cringe. You don’t want that to happen. You want your best poems to come out as the best seller and that takes a lot of time and effort. It is worth it, trust me. Having a publishing house willfully publishing your precious works and marketing them for you is worth the wait. I am still waiting. I know I have a long way to go and I’ve got a lot to learn.

To end this rather long post, here is a small poem. Yeah! It's mine, written exclusively for this post.

Look at-

the sky,

the books,

the people around you.

Listen to-

the brook,

the train,

the laughter of innocent kids.

Touch-

the flowers,

the dripping rain drops,

the hot cookies from the oven.

Write-

what you see,

what you feel,

what you want the world to read.

About the Author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature.Chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.

#poetry #writinghelp

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