Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Poetry is one of those things, like cookies...

Recently I wrote and read a poem for library festivities at my college. I'm still under the weight of finishing up finals, trying to get everything together to apply for my certificate, and now am sick with a respiratory virus. 

I always seem to get really, really sick around the time of finals. The stress beats me down every time, as my courses are project oriented, and it means putting in a lot of hours for the last shindig. 

But, I thought I would share my poetry here, and spare you having to listen to me read it. 

And maybe offer some tips on poetry.

Poetry is one of those things, like cookies, the really great ones are wonderful flavors, and the crappy ones make you angry at life. 

It's so EASY to be trite, and use tired language or themes in poems. Use your thesaurus. Really, I'm not kidding. Replace the stuff you hear everyday with things you don't *but don't go overboard, this is a subtle thing you're adding, too much and it will read like you, well, wrote with your thesaurus. SECRETLY write with your thesaurus. And rhyming dictionary. Or whatever other tools you feel comfortable with. Secretly*. 

Describe things people don't pay attention to, or describe things in new ways. 

Consider finding a form you need to adhere to. This is a personal thing. If you're married to free verse, you're still cool. I just find I work better with constraints. You can look up different forms to try out here , but don't be afraid to loosely follow the guidelines of a form either. This is your creation. 

Whether or not you draw or sketch, try it. Make something, anything, to go along with your poem. It's a different way of engaging with your subject matter, and might lead you in a different direction.

I wrote about the first literary woman I ever looked up to, felt connected to: Chani from Frank Herbert's Dune. I always laugh when I hear them criticize Dune's female characters as flat, because it meant so much to have a strong, beautiful, supportive and fiercely wild girl and woman for me to identify with. Chani isn't 2D, she's mesmerizing. And she meant enough to me to write an entire poem about. 

The Instigator

He wrote my story.
The old one folded himself over a typewriter and a yellowed lamplight, he gave me blue on blue eyes,
With his hair salted, and shoulders bowed from other distractions.

A story of fierce people, a savage hybrid girl among them,
And the grandfather worms that could eat them uncut, and build their world,
He wrote my story.

He was kind and unkind both, but kindly wrote a boy into my story,
Or rather wrote me into the story of the boy,
With his hair salted, and shoulders bowed from other distractions.

I found the boy before he found me, unafraid in the knowing of the dark, at the edge of my knife,
And the boy gave me earrings, filled with the water of the dead, as a gift of connection
He wrote my story.

Kind and unkind, the old one brought war and strife, and scheming hands I could only outfox
On an ancient fertility diet.
With his hair salted, and shoulders bowed from other distractions.

And our children, they lived, and we were proud of them.
I’d hemorrhaged to death before, still fearless, and was restored with the boy and his story, so he could finally say that “he had loved me for a thousand years”.
He wrote my story.
With his hair salted, and shoulders bowed from other distractions.

Sketch for "The Instigator"

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