POET'S CORNER 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 don’t 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!)

You have 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.

So, what 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?

You can 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.

The hardest 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 can’t be found again except for time.

Jeff Hartzer
copyright 2004




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Written by Jeff Hartzer , The Poet's Corner appears monthly in Albuquerque's South Valley Ink.



Jeff Hartzer, MEd. presents a unique view of poetry as a magical gift waiting to be opened . Jeff is a poet, writer, teacher, and the Executive Director of the AirDance ArtSpace. ( 1-505-842-9418).

For suggestions about your poems, send them with a SASE to:

The Poet's Corner

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Albuquerque, New Mexico 8712





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