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writing poetry
L'ecrivez
only_more_love
So I have a rather large and vague question for my fellow writers out there: I would like to try my hand at writing poetry; do you have any resources (books, sites, advice) to recommend to me?  Personally, I think part of learning to write happens through something like osmosis.  I can write (non-poetry) with some degree of competence because I've read a lot of (non-poetry) -- and then practiced writing it. Which means that I know I have to READ more poetry if I want to try to write it. However, there are so many forms, and poetry has its own grammar -- its own nuts and bolts and scaffolding, and I just wonder if any of you have thoughts that might help me that go beyond, "Read a lot of  poems." *g* (Although I am definitely open to suggestions of specific poets/poems you've loved!)

Honestly, I have no idea if that made any sense. I have read a bit of poetry here and there, but I would like to approach it with more rigor. Taking a class right now is just not an option; I'm still fairly wrapped up in raising M., and I don't think I could make the necessary time commitment at the moment. But I'm willing to work on my own, at a slower pace. Thanks, if you have any ideas for me, and if not, thanks just for reading. :)

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It took me a long time to learn to appreciate poetry, I thought for a long time it was for lazy writers with all the forms or the rules but then I took a class and realized how hard it was to stay in those forms or within those rules. Now I like a lot of Robert Frost, a lot of Sylvia Plath (I know... Who doesn't? *L*) some e.e. cummings (actually "someplace I have never travelled" works pretty well for Booth & Bones). I love Langston Hughes' "April Rain Song" because I love the rain. John Masefield's "Sea Fever" is resonating pretty hard with me at the moment too. But yeah Frost and Plath definitely my gateway drugswriters.


ETA: If you're looking for exposure to a lot of different poetry you could friend exceptindreams she posts a poem a day and never the same type of thing twice in a row.

And as a total aside I wanted to tell you that whenever I look at Bones now I think she's the girl with the kaleidoscope eyes. :)

Edited at 2011-01-18 06:10 pm (UTC)

I love me some Frost and some e.e. cummings. <3 Thanks for the other suggestions, too!

Part of why I'm toying with writing poetry is that I've been reading exceptindreams & greatpoets more frequently lately, and I'm in love. Or infatuation, at least. :)

And as a total aside I wanted to tell you that whenever I look at Bones now I think she's the girl with the kaleidoscope eyes. :)

Oh, wow. I don't even know what to say to that. The idea that I affected how you see her with a tiny image I used once is astounding. And happy-making. Thank you!

I'm quite fond of Mary Oliver and Marianne Moore, so I'd recommend checking them out. And I'm quite the Shakespeare gal. And Rabbie Burns and Emily Dickinson rock.

But my favorite poet is probably Dr. Seuss. :)

I don't have any particular books to recommend that are specifically about poetry (I've always been more of a fiction or creative non-fiction gal), but Natalie Goldberg's books on writing have always inspired me.

Dickinson is wonderful. Thank you for the other suggestions as well.

But my favorite poet is probably Dr. Seuss. :)

:D Have been reading some Seuss to M.; she loves it. Fun for me, too.

(I've always been more of a fiction or creative non-fiction gal)

Same here. But lately I've been itching to give poetry a shot. We'll see...

Writing Down the Bones is one of my faves. <3 May be time for a re-read. Thanks for the reminder.

I maaaaaay have literally clapped when I saw this entry. Haha. I LOVE POETRY. I feel bonded to you now.

My next fic (i.e. the one I'm working on now)--much like my first one--will sneakily quote a few lines of poetry throughout. It's just how I do (they'll of course be mentioned/cited after, though I assume people recognize them on their own. You never know though). Since you're jumping into the poetry world, I'll throw you a few links to get you in the mood (a.k.a. these are the ones getting quoted. Heyyy, sneak peek for you. You're special):

-The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot

-After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes, Emily Dickinson

-I Felt a Funeral in My Brain, Emily Dickinson

-Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, Eugene Field. (random, I know. Ha)

-and, from my first fic, The Second Coming, Yeats.

Obviously, I have, like, a thousand other poems I could recommend to you, but those should at least get you in the mood to not only *read* more poetry, but write in a freer fashion (when I say "freer", I mean you allow your brain to make more--as Mulder would say--"associo-poetic leaps", relating one thing to another, random emotional connections that come out in punches & waves, etc). What I'd recommend to you is to not only read poetry, but read fiction that toes the line, with the sort of stream-of-consiousness style that is both frustrating & beautiful. Go read the following books & then come back & tell me that your writing isn't changed (combine it with the type of classical music in the background that gives you what my friend calls "au-gasms", immersion in poetry & art, and you'll be set):

-The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
-Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
-The Waves, Virginia Woolf (especially this one)
-The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
-Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

Even if you come out of it with poetry that no one else gets, or you look at it objectively & are like, "meh, it's mediocre" (this is how I feel about my own stuff sometimes, heh), it doesn't matter. It gets stuff out of you that prose just DOESN'T. It's so worth it. And seriously, don't sweat the "it has to be like this, with such & such amount of stanzas & rhyming & bla bla bla" formats. Learn the rules & then fuck 'em when it suits you.

Edited at 2011-01-18 10:57 pm (UTC)

I will return with more specific comments, but I didn't want to wait to just say thank you for reading my post and then trying to answer my questions. Thank you! <3 This is one of the reasons I love LJ.

There is something about the quality of your writing recently (especially in the TVD pieces) that makes me think that poetry is a form you'd both enjoy and be very good at. Something's changed in the way you write, and I for one really love it.

I love poetry but I am largely self-taught, so where would I start? A couple of suggestions for when you start to expand your horizons, I'm not sure whether they're suitable for the beginning: (1) ancient Latin and Greek poetry has a very distinctive form (and it was meant to be read without any concern for where the emphasis normally fell on the word; you would need to follow the rhythm of the sentence rather than the rhythm of the individual words; this always fascinated me). 2) English translations of poetry originally written in other languages are also amazing, because they kind of force the translator to experiment with forms that are not 'native' to the English sentence structure. Of the latter, my favourites are Federico Garcia Lorca and Jorge Luis Borges.

I'll think about it some more, but this is what I had in mind so far.

Sorry, I don't seem to be able to edit comments, so I've had to write a new one.

I've looked in the course descriptions for classes on poetry at my university, and they recommend the following websites to our undergrad students on the Creative Writing programme:

Ubuweb at www.ubuweb.com

Ubuweb at www.ubuweb.com(apparently 'replete with three massive sections labeled ‘Historical’ ‘Contemporary’ and ‘Sound’ you can browse by author using the artist’s index at http://www.ubu.com/artist_index.html. Of particular interest is Ubu Editions where you can download full-length digital chapbooks for free. That’s F-R-E-E!' - says the course description)

The Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY, Buffalo at http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/ ('Use the author pages section to browse creative, critical and secondary material as well as sound recordings and links for authors that interest you. Good for the North American writers in particular.')

Light and Dust at http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/lighthom.htm ('A remarkable online poetry anthology with pages on many poets from the anthology: MacLow, McClure, Nichol, Owens, Rothenberg, Schwerner, Taggart, Tarn, Waldrop etc.').

I hope this helps.

I can't thank you enough for your suggestions! I'll be back with more specific comments, but I didn't want to wait to say thanks. I asked; you answered. :)

my favorite poems may not be exactly what you're thinking of... but i LOVE Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. I also love this poem called Peace and Harmony. Mom had a book once that showed Peace and Harmony like two little girl angels that were bff, so think of that:

Peace and Harmony
Here are two that are so close
They always stay in tune;
How could we have the shining sun
Without the silvery moon?
The only way that you’ll find Peace
Is finding Harmony,

And when you find the two of them
They both will set you free.
Just sit there still with Harmony
And close your eyes with Peace,
And soon you’ll feel an inner strength
From a source that will not cease.
It’s when there’s Peace and Harmony
That all of us can grow;
Beyond those of our wildest dreams,
Beyond yet what we know.
Side by side and on through time
Go Peace and Harmony,
And trust me when you find the one
There will the other be.
--John Wm. Sisso

and this delightful friend by ee cummings:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


and THISONEZOMGLOVE I want it read at my wedding:


The Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Canadian Teacher and Author

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
"Yes."

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.



another one you and M might enjoy... ever tried Shel Silverstein? Love that guy. Did you know he wrote Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue"? My favorite Shel book is "Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?" and it is HYSTERICAL. We got it for my cousin when his little boy was born and I still about pee my pants giggling every time i read it. See here: http://www.amazon.com/Wants-Cheap-Rhinoceros-Shel-Silverstein/dp/0027826902

Alright, don't kick me cause it's religious, but I love "The Life I Planned" by Beth Moore. There's just something about it that resonates with me, particularly the first three stanzas.

We did a whole section on poetry in my World Lit class a few semesters back. I know we read some of Wordsworth, Keats, Yeats, Paul Verlaine (Autumn.. something?), and I think some Rimbaud. We did a few of Rilke's but my favorite was "Go to the Limits of Your Longing". Which again, yes, a bit religious at first glance, but I think it has a broader application as well.

I'm not a huge poetry fan; my brain just isn't wired well for it. But those two have stuck with me over the years. I suppose that's something :)

Poetry - it's been on my mind and heart this week.

Try Stephen (Gordon Gordon) Fry's book "The Ode Less Travelled" for a wonderful immersion course in English poetry - answers every question you might have ever had about rhyme, metre, and what it all means (and includes exercises!)

World War I poetry (Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfrid Owen) will tear you apart and sing in your soul forever. Stevie Smith, with her oddly pedestrian agonies, will too (I was much too far out all my life, and not waving but drowning). T.S. Eliot, the Romantics (don't do it for me, but my grandmother could quote hundreds of lines) ... any first year English lit text (look in second-hand bookstores) will give you a solid overview.

You don't have to write poetry like anyone else, though - the great thing about poetry is that it layers language with meaning: one written word can be read many ways.

When I wrote "Journey's End" (a CSI:NY fic) I had planned the plot out in advance, which I did not do with its prequel (It's a Long Journey Home). However, before I posted each chapter, I would read it over, and free-write a poem which I posted at the beginning of that chapter. It was an amazing experience - I wrote over 50 poems in under 30 weeks. They were not all good(!), but some of them hold up pretty well.

The best thing is to set yourself a goal - write a poem a day without worrying about how it works or if you have followed all the rules. Play with the rhythm and structure of the words. You'll learn your voice as you go along.

Most importantly - have fun! Pretty soon poetry will bubble out of you!

(And try Dennis Lee with M. - she'll love him!)

Funny - this doesn't surprise me at all. I've always felt that your fics were poetry as they were, so it would, I think, be a short hop for you to try writing poetry. The only time I'm inspired to write poetry is when I'm down. Which is a lot lately, unsurprisingly. But I wouldn't mind being a happy poet.

If you find a good resource, would you mind sharing it with me? I would like to try it again at some point.

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