It’s easier than you think. Just grab a piece of paper along with a working pen or a sharp pencil and begin writing your own genuine poem. While sitting on the couch or near the shore, regardless if you are alone or surrounded by strangers, poetry is one of those art forms you can explore any time. If you are keen to visit poetry readings and you are known for your love of poetry books, perhaps it is time to explore your own ability to express your feelings and inner thoughts through an unconventional type of language use.
Intellectual disputes over the definition of poetry and its distinction from other genres of literature were inextricably intertwined with the debate over the role of poetic form. As the twentieth century coincided with the rejection of traditional forms and structures for poetry, people began questioning the purpose and meaning of traditional definitions for poetry and its unclear distinction from prose. Poetry, throughout the world today, often reflects the incorporation of poetic form and diction from other cultures as well as from the past and present practices, further complicating the numerous attempts of scholars to define and classify what once was confound within the tradition of the Western canon.
Poetry depends less on sentences and particular paragraphs than prose. The major structural elements of poetry generally are the line, the stanza or verse paragraph, and larger combinations of stanzas or lines such as cantos. In addition, the basic units of poetic form are often combined into larger structures, called poetic forms, such as the sonnet. From Homer’s and William Shakespeare’s poems to contemporary award winning poets, language, rhythm, meter, and intonation have been studied extensively over the years in an effort to determine and classify poets, cultures and social times. Furthermore, rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance, as methods for creating repetitive patterns of sound, have each greatly been influenced by the particular language used and the era of a poem’s creation. Since languages vary in the richness of their rhyming structures, in some languages, like Italian, for example, with its rich rhyming structure, it is possible to maintain a limited set of rhymes throughout a lengthy poem. In some cases, particularly lengthier formal poetry, such as some forms of epic poetry, stanzas are constructed according to strict rules and then combined to form unity.
In addition to the different structures and lengths of poems or poetic forms, the selection of particular words and meanings greatly influence a poem’s ability to be interpreted by the reader. Aristotle wrote in the Poetics that “the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.” Whether your poem will include one or more types of metaphors, its poetic diction, the manner in which you will use language to convey the underlying meaning in combination to the sound and form, will be the first thing a reader will experience. Rhetorical devices, such as a metaphor, as well as tones of voice, such as irony, can “add meaning” to your poem and alter the connotation of the words used. It is known that allegorical stories are central to poetic diction for many cultures. But regardless of your poem’s structural form, tone, rhythm, or language, attempting to write one can indeed increase your understanding on other people’s poetic attempts and help you “translate” and understand different cultures, while increasing your language aesthetic palette.