I used to despise poetry. I refused to read it, let alone write it. For three years I studied poetry at university, because for whatever reason, I was half decent at analysing the stuff. Plagued by “this happens because of this,” or, “don’t write that, you can’t do that in a poem unless you’re experienced,” I got frustrated and disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the literary modern poem.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that I realised how rewarding poetry can be. Forgetting about the rules and logic behind poetry has opened up a hundred new ways of experimenting with language I never thought possible. Poetry is not about adhering to rules, but breaking them.

Found poetry is fascinating. Interesting combinations of words happen all the time, at every second, completely by accident. I’ve found myself listening more closely in everyday situations. Carrying a notebook around with you, and a pen, is crucial if you want to improve your writing. Listening to what’s going on around you is good for your prose, your dialogue, your poetry. As Stein said, “It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.”

Intrude with your ears.

Poetry lacks the restrictions of prose. It can be more free-flowing, quicker, more instantaneous. Writing succinctly in poetry has had an influence on my prose, where I now aim for the “less said the better” rule. Cutting out unnecessary description has made me realise words, on their own, can be powerful.

Simplicity is evocative, and effective.

26 thoughts on “ON HATING POETRY

  1. My experience is the opposite of yours. I find the constraints of traditional poetry (sonnets, villanelle etc) force me to be more aware of language, to use one word – the right word – to express a portmanteau of meaning. I guess it takes all sorts!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Just wanted to share William Carlos Williams words: “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” I find this to be true whether I’m reading or writing them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have Liked your post to indicate that I have read it. However, I can’t say that I agree with your thoughts on this matter. Robert Graves who was professor of poetry at Oxford for some years wrote extensively about this. He put forward the ideas that poets are born not made and that only good poetry makes good poems.
    He believed in the fact that poetry needed to conform to rules and highly disciplined execution. This was what the true Olaves or Bards strived for. Those unable intellectually to achieve this discipline became Rhymesters and Gleemen reducing the art to pure entertainment. I write this not to claim that you are wrong but just to claim there is a difference and a purpose.
    The comment by Fantasticpencils above is right on track. Becoming more aware of language to use the right word(s) is the key.
    The rules which govern the construction of sonnets, odes, haiku, rokku, senryu etc. are there for a purpose. Like sport there are rules which for the structure of the end result. Can you imagine a game of baseball where somebody declares four strikes instead of three., for this at bat and who knows about the next? It creates a new game.
    Keep posting I enjoy your work.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Very interesting input. You’re not wrong about Graves, or any other poet from that time, for that matter. Great lengths and great stress was put into the precise selection of words, which I think, in a lot of ways, has diffused into the way I write poetry.

      I was not criticizing the rules, or the strictness of them, but rather suggesting that the initial creation of a poem should be spontaneous. Refinement and the adjusting to the rules of rhythm and pattern can come after that initial creative outburst.

      It takes a great poet to write with the rules the first time round.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think also that whilst there are rules for writing traditional poetry and if that is what one claims one us writing then one should end up with a piece that meets those rules. If as has been suggested poets are born they also have to speak with their own authentic voice not just Syphon their voice into anothers vehicle. So there has to be a place for experimentation, new rules and different rules.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Provoking thoughts. I shall not camp with either. Judgment, opinions, rules…, so be it, but not for me. Firstly let creativity flow. Gleam and polish and edit later.
    Thank you for visiting nothingcluelesslost.com

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Totally feel you.

    I suck at writing poems using specific structures or rules. It mostly comes out forced and wrong, when I do it, like I’m trying to fit my words and ideas into templates that don’t work for me, or which are diluting what I’m trying to say. I know it can be a really useful focusing tool for some people, and it’s great when traditional schemes/structures etc help you, but when I don’t like it, myself.

    Break the rules, bad boy, break the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everything in balance, I say, Pooky. If writing with a structure is what you gotta do, you gotta do it. Doesn’t work for me, haha. Or maybe it does…I’ve never given it the time of day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: ON AVOIDING CLICHÉ | Seal Matches

  7. Writing within rules doesn’t negate creativity – rather it enhances it. Cethru Cellophane uses a good analogy – how would sports work without rules? (I except Australian Rules rugby which, we always said should be renamed Australian No-Rules rugby!! ) Sure the initial impulse to write – anything – must arise from some well of creativity, it’s how we mould that impulse that is important. Even poetry that doesn’t appear to have any rules often does have them when analysed. Man, like society, may like to think he is free to float at will but, like society, needs rules to make life bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very right. Rules are self-imposed, even if we don’t realise. I think what I was a trying to get at, but may not have gotten across (maybe I should rewrite this piece) is that you shouldn’t let an obsession with the rules stifle your creativity, which certainly happened to me.

      Thanks for the comment pencils.


  8. Pingback: ON SIMPLICITY IN WRITING | Seal Matches

  9. Pingback: ON AVOIDING CLICHÉ — Seal Matches | Arrowhead Freelance and Publishing

  10. Pingback: ON OVERCOMING WRITER’S BLOCK | Seal Matches

  11. Maybe I was lucky. I never studied poetry, I just write it. I am compelled to write it. I read it and enjoy it, or not but, I don’t analyze it. I don’t need to know how they did it. I don’t want to write like other people. I want to write my own poetry. I don’t write the kind of poetry which uses rules but, they still have to work for my own sense of rhythm and sometimes rhyme. It is probably illegal to slip in and out of rhyming in the same poem, but I do that a lot. Poetry is a bit like music because the rhythm is so important. It is a bit like magic because it takes you to a place where anything can happen. It is brief but can still take you on a journey to places you may have never been before, showing visions you may have never seen, thoughts you may have never had, things you have always known but have never heard. Still, an interesting article and discussion. Modern poetry, free verse, free of the rules, what makes it poetry or not poetry? The difference between noise and music. Just something you know in your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved this comment, thanks for stopping by and dropping some good old wisdom. Poetry is totally subjective. I’ve never believed in whether poetry is good or bad, although I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d disagree with us.

      Finding your own rhythm is half the fun!

      Hope you like the blog, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s