- How to respect the rules Sonnets, haiku, and vienelles are very structured. Next time you're struggling to write a five paragraph essay try adding iambic pentameter with an ABAB rhyme scheme and see if it gets easier. Sure, you might think in poetry the rules don't apply but they do. Each poem has its own unique rules and structure. You might create those rules but there are rules.
- How to break the rules Poetry is the chill middle school kid of writing. It welcomes you in with a “Hey, what's up? I have these three rules: follow them unless they don't apply, in that case, please make up your own that work better.”
- How to cut through crap Poetry doesn't need set up, a summary or a transition. Poems are the easiest way to make a point. You can't render personal, political, or social truth any more directly than through poetic form.
- Punctuation, punctuation, punctuation! There are so many rules in traditional formats regarding when and how to use a semicolon vs. colon. In poetry, there is just Punctuation for emphasis. It's fun to see how you can change meaning with a well placed period or a dash.
While poetry won't teach you the proper grammar rules for other forms of writing, it might make you more confident to experiment. After all, who cares if it's a semi colon or colon as long as the reader gets the meaning?
- The importance of a visually appealing work Readers want an indication of readability. Lists, quotes, punctuation, and short paragraphs can all indicate readability. Short paragraphs indicate to the reader a minimal commitment of time.
- Honesty and fearlessness in writing Poetry is NEVER the time to hold back. What have you been holding back or rationalizing? Let it out in poetry! There is no better confessional, rant platform, or happy jig than a well worded poem.
- Your writing style and preferences Poetry can be short and quick to cook up, so you can amass a collection very quickly. By reviewing your work, you'll be able to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and preferred topics. You'll get a strong sense of who you are as a writer and what kind of writing is going to work best for you.
- Who is your primal self Poetry is both a raw and gilded. Expression does not get bogged down in semantics. You create in a natural and intuitive sense. Reviews of your work might lead you to “I didn't know I had that in me,” or “I didn't know how strongly I felt.”
It will take you no time at all to relate these top 8 lessons to other works. Poetry will bleed into standard prose, and your work will be more interesting and compelling for it.
I do have 2 more thoughts on what poetry will teach you, but they are more practiced skills. Only for the ambitious and determined writer.
- How to show and not tell Writers take the short cut of telling all the time. What sounds better “the dawn way beautiful,” or “the dawn broke luminous and large in the eastern horizon. Where the pall of darkness festered, warm rays stabbed onto the land. They destroyed all the night's terrors with the warm joyful gift of sight.” Poetics nurtures and encourages this kind of showing.
- Introducing more senses. Writing descriptive sounds, smells and touches further engages a reader. Using all four senses to describe when something smells bad is difficult. A smell is subjective with less common experience for the writer to refer to. Often in describing a smell writers will work a back story to lay common ground for the reader to experience the smell. Sounds, smells, and touches will make your fictional world visceral to a reader . Poetry wrings every drop of sensatory experience using the words themselves to create sounds, smells, and touches.
Poetry is not for everyone.
Still, you should create a poem or two. Remember, a quality poem isn't always the goal. Some of the best writing lessons come from works where everything else fails spectacularly!
Is your writing stale? Are you having trouble finding your voice? Do you lack inspiration? Follow a poetic prompt to get your mojo back. Even if your work is a train wreck with chemical spilling out everywhere and an explosion on the horizon, you will have gained valuable insight because the nature of poetic form and creation.