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Crafting A Meaningful Poem

Updated on October 20, 2013

Definition of a Poem:

I'd first like to start with what a poem actually is. A poem is a composition stylized using beautiful expressions and imaginative accounts of a particular subject. As I'm sure you may know, they can be written about anything really, and can show up in many forms. I won't discuss those forms in this article. I will talk about rhyming versus free verse. But poetry is, to me, just an expression of emotions, a capturing of a moment of hyper-awareness of one's surroundings or how one feels. This is about taking advantage of that moment and learning to paint that moment with words.

Subject Matters: Moments

Poetry can be about anything, but they must draw from truth. Here's a list of subject matters I've written about. You'll notice that these moments can range from general to specific:

  • Society as I see it
  • How I would define myself
  • Sinners
  • Gay rights
  • Religion and Gay rights
  • Death
  • Depression
  • An empty house
  • Suicide
  • My house
  • Hell
  • The human mind
  • The wind
  • Tragedy
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Ending a relationship
  • Flirting
  • Love interests
  • Hopeless love
  • Innocence

The fact that one can get as specific as one likes with these subjects, there are thousands of things to write about. So how does one write about these things? Or when one sees or feels these things how does one interpret that into words? I'm going to reference a few things on my list to answer these questions. Let's look at the topic of the wind. The wind can mean different things to different people. When I wrote the poem, entitled "When the Wind Blows" it was never meant to mean when the actual wind blows. Wind and the blowing of it was meant more metaphorically than literally. What do I mean? I compared people in our lives to branches and leaves on a tree, i.e. some stay awhile and some blow away with the wind. So the wind here is means any circumstance that causes someone to leave your life. This what makes poetry, personal and what makes it meaningful, sharing these moments with others in a way that's unexpected but also paints a picture. It also opens the door to interpretation, which is one of the many things I love about poetry. The reading of a poem means something different to everybody. People relate to it differently. At the core it may be the same understanding of the poem, but a different connection to each reader.

There is power in words. There is power in that words are arranged, as said in the article Your Way With Words.

Adele 21: The perfect capturing of heartbreak and pain using words and images. What do you think of when she sings "I set fire to the rain"?

The perfect capturing of heartbreak and pain using words and images. What do you think of when she sings "I set fire to the rain"? People can relate easily to this album. It won 6 Grammy's because of the amount of power in each of the words she sings
The perfect capturing of heartbreak and pain using words and images. What do you think of when she sings "I set fire to the rain"? People can relate easily to this album. It won 6 Grammy's because of the amount of power in each of the words she sings

Powerful Words

What makes poetry powerful? What makes it pull at the heartstrings of it's readers? What makes it draw the reader momentarily into the world of the poem?

Many things really. But the basics are, rhythm and rhyme. These are two things one can choose to play with.

What does it mean for a poem to have rhythm. Think of songs. Your poem has a tempo. You can almost expect when the rhyme is going to come. Most poems that contain rhythm are in fact rhyming poems. One can feel the "pulse" of the poem as it's being read. Dr. Seuss wrote with rhythms. Much of his books, when you read each stanza you can feel the rhythm of the words and the rhymes as you go along. They almost have a bouncy feel to them.

What makes rhythm so effective and meaningful is that it allows for easy ways to remember. Not only does the reader have images to think back on, but words to go with those images. This isn't as easy with free verse, where especially significant lines might be remembered.

Rhyming versus Free-verse

The obvious difference is that rhyming well, rhymes and free-verse doesn't. Now, although one can add rhythm to free-verse poetry, it typically doesn't have a rhythm. Rhyming poetry on the other hand does. It is my belief that music can be put to any rhyming piece.

So which do I use when I write? I am a fan of free-verse. The only time I use rhyming mechanisms is in writing about love. Both have there effects and uses. I feel it depends one, on the writer and two, on the moment.

Free-verse allows for freedom of expression in terms of, one doesn't have to worry about rhyming schemes, or length of lines, or numbers of syllables. It's just a pouring out of the heart on to the page.

Rhyming on the other hand, takes all of those things into consideration. In my opinion, rhyming serves a very good purpose in painting beauty. It's fun. It's happy. Free-verse I feel is better for depression and darkness and freeing oneself from the realms of reality. It's fantasy.

But, this is not a rule of thumb, nor is it written in stones. One can feel free to write in whatever manner one wants about anything.

My whole point in all of this is to feel the moment. Meaningful poetry comes from the heart. It comes from a truly deep place that one isn't always in contact with. Think of heartbreak, one doesn't too often experience heartbreak (but when one does, think of that place you've been brought to. It's dark. It's lonely. It's depressing. Write from it. Some of the greatest songs have been written in these places. Don't wait until you've gotten out, write from within these places, because, then the piece becomes more meaningful and that much more genuine and powerful. A happier example, the complete opposite of heartbreak, the spiritual high that comes with falling in love for the first time. Pour it out on to the page. And don't hold back, for the love of God, do not hold back. You restrict your writing, you restrict your readers.Let it go. Write yourself out of these moments.

Just feel the moment. Stay in the moment. Paint the moment. Be free of it.

© 2013 Offbeat Lyricisms


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