by Jeff Hartzer
This might be a P-O-E-M
#002: July 2004
In the June
Issue of SVI, we dove into the world of the P-O-E-T. Today,
we begin to smell the P-O-E-T-R-Y. You ask Hey, I wrote
this thing about my dog , but I dont know if it is a
POEM or not. How can I tell?
Does what you have written paint a picture or tell a story
or relate an emotional experience about your dog? If so, you
might have a POEM on your hands.These are the three basic
aims of a good poem. Believe it or not these three
criteria are more important than punctuation, capitalization,
or subject matter. (Although correct spelling counts!)
no doubt heard that it is better to show than to tell. This
is easy to do if you utilize the five senses. Let your audience
see, smell, taste, touch, and/or hear something in your writing.
And please, BE IN THE NOW: use active verbs in the present
tense. Martin Luther King said, I HAVE a dream
... Not, I had a dream a few weeks ago or there
was a dream I had . Poems come more ALIVE if kept in
the present tense.
can I write a poem about? How long does it have to be? Does
it have to have periods and stuff? Can I use swear words?
write about any thing, person, or place in any time or space.
As far as length, just Go the distance, then cut back a bit
if you want to. You may have more than one stanza (a paragraph)
if that helps to divide up your poetic thoughts and ideas.
Punctuation is more in the line breaks: how your breath comes
in and out while reading your lines of words. You may capitalize
the beginnings of sentences or lines and add punctuation
as direction for the way you want your poem to
be read. Leave swear words to the pros like Vice President
Cheney. Let swearing or blessings be read between the lines.
Subtlety is sublime.
part of any endeavor is to start it. The first line you write
may be your toughest.
You are legally allowed to copy any five words of a song or
poem without fear of plagiarism or lawsuit. Here are some
starting points that you may steal.
Pick one of the following phrases and write it down. Write
it down a second time and see if your own words follow.
When I was
little...Night time is...Lightning strikes...That old car
of mine...Fishing with Grandpa...
Sunrise is a time when...Stars shine...I run and run...I shout
your name...You are mine...
A poem is a jab, a sprint, a lightning flash, a snapshot.
It may not seem to tell the whole story and yet, it does.
It is a headline news story. Many poems may be about one topic.
You may write the definitive poem about your dog or your mother
and a week later write a completely different poem about your
dog or your mother. Snapshots capture a moment in time. There
are many moments of time for us to enjoy and record occasionally
in a poem. Go for it. Write yourself a P-O-E-M. Nothing is
lost that cant be found again except for time.