Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

I’ve been thinking lately about writing poetry as a means of mastering the art of alliteration and sentence structure. Then I began to think of how therapeutic and useful poetry can be for a novelist.

Like most writers, I went through a gut-wrenching poetry phase in my teens and early twenties. If I can find some of those poems, I’ll try to post them here soon. The poetry phase began when I was 12 years old. It started innocent enough with poems that incorporated cheesy commercial slogans and parodies of popular rap songs. Then I had my first experience in the world of heartbreak and the poetry took a turn for the sappy. I wrote about unreturned phone calls and my desire to live in a universe impervious to such things as unrequited love.

Then came the rolling twenties, or the suicidal twenties, in my case. I began to write about hollow-eyed sheep and oozing self-inflicted wounds. Not a pretty time in my life, but it was necessary for me to experience it. This dark phase gave me the courage I needed to give up on writing. Yes, you heard me right. I think it takes courage to give up on a dream; maybe not as much as it takes to continue pursuing that dream in the face of adversity, but it takes courage nonetheless to admit that you are nowhere near ready to pursue something you want so badly.

Those few years away from poetry (and writing, in general) were absolutely essential for me to find out what kind of writer I wanted to be. Not writing left me with unlimited time to dedicate to reading. As I luxuriated in the unencumbered extravagance of reading for pure pleasure, I felt myself being drawn back to the page, little by little, until finally I could no longer deny the impulse to write.

I realized when I came back to the blank page, the words flowed freely and without the agony that had embodied so much of my poetry. But I also noticed that the sentences had a poetic quality. Every syllable had a purpose. Every word had movement. Every sentence had structure. This is what all those years of poetry had helped me achieve.

Next time you feel yourself stuck on a certain passage or sentence or word, and you feel like you’ve rewritten it so many times that you’d rather bang your head against a brick wall than fuss over it any longer, WALK AWAY.

Or, pick up your pen or pencil and write a poem.


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