How to Write Poetry 102
Step 2: Stop caring about your reader
When people read poetry they aren’t looking to read something specific. They don’t begin to read because they want to smile, have a good cry, or look into the night sky with puppy dog eyes until a shooting star paints the darkness. People don’t know what they want when they read poetry. Your single most important job as the poet of poetry is to make them FEEL. If they leave your poem furious, you did your job. If they leave crying, you did your job. Writing poetry isn’t about catering to a specific feeling or TYPE of feeling. Feelings are vast and endless. Feelings aren’t supposed to be found where they are expected to be. They just are what they ARE. How we receive them is the important part. Sitting down and trying to write a sad poem produces as much of a quality “sad” poem as American Idol did when they added Nicki Minaj to the list of judges - it just doesn’t work. Real poets have a concept, have a context, a line or two they know they want to insert, and that’s about it. Planning poetry by blocked intervals of emotion builds a square HOUSE with no windows. Feelings are created by word flowing to word as a story is constructed down the page. Imagery fills the reader's mind with pictures and feelings as much as it fills their eyes with sentences. Poetry is the literary equivalent to an emotional kiss on the mind’s cheek. Make it tender... don’t ASK them what they want. People who read poetry don’t care what they read, as long as they leave DIFFERENT from what they were coming in they won’t think anything of their mental vacation. The worst possible thing you can do as a poet is to write to PLEASE somebody - it isn’t your job. Displace your reader from their current world and DROWN them in feeling. Let them BREATH the words on your heart. Paint your reader with the COLORS of your mind until all they see is color. Make them FEEL what you felt while you wrote the poem. Write to satisfy, not to conform. And you will find, when your reader is drowned in miles and miles and dark blue poetry, they won’t wonder where the surface is.