Poetry, to me, is the voice of our feelings. There are so many forms, so much flexibility in the rules of poetry, and way-more-than-I-can-count metaphors and similes and devices you can manipulate and create to capture the uniqueness of your emotion and tone, thus allowing us to paint exactly how we feel in the way that we want to. We all share the same emotions—sadness, anger, distress, joy, and excitement. But I believe that those emotions can be depicted and are perceived differently by each individual, and that is what makes those unique metaphors and images refreshing and impactful to readers. That uniqueness comes from you writing what you feel. And that, to me, is how you write poetry.
The basis of writing a poem is to identify those feelings you are trying to convey, and the meat of poetry writing is crafting how you convey those feelings. An answer I found online is this: “The short answer is that poetry connects the conscious with the subconscious mind to produce a catharsis. It’s no more than this.” While there are several methods to writing poetry, and you can manipulate sounds and rhythm to produce intended effects, poetry is ultimately releasing what you are feeling or thinking. I know it sounds simpler than what poetry writing process can be—with complex undertones and abstract illustration, sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly how we want to convey our feelings. However, the most important thing is to allow your poems to flow from you naturally with a goal of what effects you want to produce to express your message at the forefront of your thought process. Don’t force anything you feel hinders your message or conveyance of emotion/feeling. Force loses the readers, force prevents the readers from connecting with what you are saying.
When you go to write a poem, think about the feeling and emotions you have been experiencing. Think of what emotions you want to convey—anger, resentment, happiness, gratitude, or joy? Now think of how you perceive those emotions or think of how you want to depict them. Imagine what action or image best represents or symbolizes how you feel. For example, in the poem “Never Again” that I wrote as a reaction to the Parkland shooting, I thought long and hard about how I was feeling. For the most part, I was speechless and shocked. I felt like “words were stripped from my skin,” and so I used that line to convey how shocked and speechless I was. I opened with that line and just began to release everything I had been pondering over and allowing it to take shape in the way I was imagining it, sort of to express the stages of my reaction, from shocked to realizing how real this issue was becoming. I realized letting my thoughts flow in a free style was the best way to express my feelings as I began to shape my poem. It’s sort of hard to explain, but if you are able to identify and imagine the feelings you are experiencing, images and representation of what you are thinking start to take shape by using what you know and what you’ve seen or felt.
I know writing poetry might seem daunting, its concept might seem elusive. But the core of writing poetry is to write what you feel. I say that you should write naturally, but it really takes practice to master how you want to effectively convey your feelings. Think logically and realistically about the portrayal of your feelings—what most accurately reflects them? What will readers be able to connect with or understand? What do you want them to strive to understand from the way you have portrayed your emotions? Read published poems to practice identifying the emotions being conveyed so you can apply outside methods to your own poetry.
Don’t force your poetry! Think and reflect, imagine and most importantly feel. That, to me, is how poetry is meant to be created.