Over the past few months, I have been working *sporadically* on what I hope will one day be my third book. This new addition to the Be Beyond Borders library is meant to be a collection of poems.
I wrote an initial draft in August. Doing so was the best feeling ever! Problem is, looking at it now, I can’t help but cringe. If Where to Next? (my travel memoir) left anything unsaid, this attempt at poetry doesn’t. Some may call it an open-window to my humanity or, less romantically, a striptease of my soul.
Being that raw and honest doesn’t mean the output is any good. Far from it. Clunky rhymes there. Lazy rhythm here. Oh well, at least I tried! Torn between constructive criticism and nagging self-doubt, I couldn’t help to wonder… Are we all dormant poets?
What makes poetry poetry?
Did you know that poetry comes from the Ancient Greek word ποιεω (poieo) which means “to create”?
When doing some research, I realised that poetry is often defined in opposition to other art forms, writing techniques, or expression styles such as prose. For example, it is said that when prose shows continuity, consistency and paragraphs, poetry consists of lines, musicality and imagery.
However, what poetry actually is, remains somewhat of a mystery especially when the genre is so diverse that there are over 50 recognised forms of poetry in the world… From Haiku in Japan to Lyric Poetry in Europe, or Epic Poems in Africa, just to name a few.
What makes poetry poetry then? In my mind, and that of many others, the answer is ’emotions’. Poetry is poetry when it has the ability to move, seduce, revolt, inspire its author and readers alike. Outstanding poetry is found in verses that make you feel something so deep, so intense, and so truthful that they become ingrained in you for years to come.
Poetry – in its holistic sense – has no set shape, frame, or limitations. On that basis, if we can create and use our words, we all have the ability to be poets. But why should we bother writing verses in the first place?
Why write poetry?
Where to even begin… The reasons why poetry matters as endless as they are personal.
Many – myself included – find it therapeutic. They see poetry as a conduit to self-expression. Through their creations, poets are able to share their deepest – and often darkest – thoughts and feelings. It gives writers an opportunity to free themselves of any internal turmoil by laying everything on paper following structures and conventions as closely or loosely as they see fit.
In turn, readers may either recognise themselves somewhere between the lines or be transported to a different place of wild dreams and vivid imagination.
Poems have also long been a vehicle to express a political point of view, raise awareness of social issues or support various causes.
So, if poetry is undeniably essential to humanity and the ability to create poems is within everyone’s reach, why aren’t we all active poets?
How to write poetry?
Poetry is vast and can be intimidating but if you look around, you’ll find examples of poetic works in the most surprising places.
Take Instagram captions for example. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve felt transported and inspired by the words I’ve read while scrolling down my feed.
Personally, all my poems beginning at the “word vomit” stage during which I write down thoughts and feelings as they come. Then, I let the outcome rest and walk away from it. Days, weeks or sometimes months later, I go back, read through my initial draft and edit.
I find editing the most difficult by far. Cutting or modifying a word can feel like losing an arm or a leg. Imagine removing a whole line!
On that note, it’s your turn. Whatever it is that’s top of your mind or that you’re going through right now, put it in a poem and send it to me. I’d love to read it!
In the meantime, here is one of my humble creations…
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