Are You the Master of Your Domain?

13 May
Cover of "Creating Poetry"

Cover of Creating Poetry

Normally I write poetry as a form of catharsis or social action, usually to be spoken. I have some poetry that I would never intend to perform. I started thinking about submitting some of the pieces that I consider “reading poetry” into competitions or other sources for publication. After comparing some published pieces to my works, I realized that much of the published poetry had a very different sound and vibe than I am used to delivering.

I began reading a book titled Creating Poetry by John Drury. Creating Poetry explores the fundamentals of poetry, providing descriptions and examples of all poetic terms including prose, verse, iambic pentameter, sonnets, and more; formalities I don’t usually consider when writing. 

While reading, I recalled my experiences with sonnets- senior year of high school, theatre class. Each senior had to pick a Shakespearian sonnet to memorize. We completed a million and one activities with our sonnets. I enjoyed learning my sonnet and finding the beauty in each word as well as becoming familiar with the format. 

In Creating Poetry, Drury lists hundreds of exercises one can do to learn to create poetry in the numerous styles described. I was a bit overwhelmed thinking about the formalities of this art form, some of which I have taken for granted. Although one should not become obsessed with following the rules of poetry, I think that if I say I am a poet, I should know (most of) them. 

I would hate to be in a room full of poets and they begin tossing around poetry terms, and my self-proclaimed self could not add to the discussion. I would also hate for someone who admires my poetry, written and spoken, to begin asking questions about form and I could not provide any concrete information. 

Talents are not necessarily taught, therefore presenting a challenge when one seeks to become a master of their craft or talent. I have written poetry long before it was taught to me. I think it is important to know the rules of whatever “game” you play, so I am committed to re-teaching myself some of the basics. 

What do you think? Is it important to know the formalities of your talents or can you push forward without knowing them? 

By the way, I decided to play with a rhyme scheme using a topic I would not usually write about (the type of suggested activities in Creating Poetry). Can you identify the pattern below using letters or numbers? For example, ABAB or 123, 456, 123.

Find What You Are Looking For

Runny nose turned stuffy

I’m even having trouble breathing through my mouth

Chest filled with air

Throat hard to clear 

Where is the poetry in my being ill?

Nyquil tastes sucky

Spraying Lysol to keep germs from spreading through the house

Boyfriend handles me with care

He might catch my cold I fear

Why no poetry in my being ill?

Ahheeem, is the sound I keep making

I’m no good at just resting 

Eyes heavy, he said my face looked swollen

Yeah…..That’s really what a girl wants to hear

Even when I’m sick, I still want to be the finest thing near

No poetry in my being ill!

No milk, means no baking

Virus festering

Need to workout, trying to keep a schedule rolling

On my deathbed, still worried about the plump of my rear

Toward losing 25 pounds, I still steer

Looking for the poetry in my being ill…..


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3 responses to “Are You the Master of Your Domain?

  1. baker

    May 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I believe learning the “formalities” of your gift is an absolute must. Learing the lingo & traditions, usually developed through years of trial, error & research by your peers, is often the difference between impressing and entertaining the ignorant & impressing and educating yourself. Making a baby laugh doesn’t make you a comedian, and that baby can’t make you better by telling you what you did well or not so well.

  2. K. SIDNEY

    May 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Those damn sonnets! I couldn’t stand doing that! Fortunately, I don’t even remember mine. Ha!

    Personally, I don’t think that you need to learn the fundamentals of certain kinds of art to be considered great. STEVIE WONDER can’t read music, nor could MICHAEL JACKSON. Learning fundamentals is essential when the subject you’re learning has an absolute truth (i.e. you can’t be a good boxer when you can’t throw a jab, you can’t be a good mathematician when you don’t know how to add and subtract, etc), but there is no absolute truth in poetry. Good acting, good art, good poetry, and good music are all in the eye of the beholder: subjective art. Besides, I think learning the fundamentals of subjective art takes away from the fun in creating it. True art doesn’t follow rules, and rhyme schemes. It follows the heart and we all know how random and ridiculous our emotions can be.

    Now learning the history of your art form…that’s a definite! You have to know where that art form came from, how it evolved, and how other artists have approached it. Knowing the history is the only fundamental that’s required.

    My .2 cents…keep the change.

    • Ashley S.C. Walls

      May 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Great points Keith!

      I can imagine that through learning the history, you will learn formalities. But to your point, the goal should be to learn enough to understand the technique, not necessarily duplicate as art is about creating and originality (which can include re-interpreting without imitation).

      I do feel that learning the formalities will help you understand your tools and resource bank.

      For example, you write music, and although you may or may not be the sound engineer for your music, knowing what you can do with sounds, beats, etc allows you to think differently about your verses. You can imagine the drum in the background because you know its possible.
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


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