So, I dare to be a poet? It doesn’t matter if my work has some special innovation or any proportion of genius. It’s not important to me how I’m compensated or even how my production is received. All that’s important to me is that my poetic work is received and witnessed at all. To touch one mind other than my own should be the only goal. If it touches more, that should be considered a bonus to me.
In the occupation of the poet, it is the audience that matters most. The content is of equal importance. But, without the audience, what is the mission of said content?
There’s also the important matter of context. The context of the words must be carefully observed. Even then, sometimes you’ll stumble across a phrase in writing that’s somehow universal and defines its own context. It’s these sort of universal phrases a true poet must seek, for they are timeless and eternal.
There are great works of literature, to be sure, that contain such universal phrases. It’s these very trinkets of human creativity and expression that make a literary work one to truly treasure and honor. Great literature has much less to do with the plot, often tried and true, than the telling itself. The artistry, the metaphor, the corollaries, and the literary devices of all sorts are what make the study of great literary works worthwhile.
Too many scholarly types obsess over mechanics and form. When it comes to substance, they read as much into every word as they possibly can. Sometimes, scholars completely ignore the original context of the work and make up their own just to have something to say.
Great Literature Must Have a Focused Message
All things considered, the poet’s most dear focus should be the message. That is, the idea and the inspiration to be shared through the work. The poet should never be too mindful of structure, only to the point to keep somewhat organized and to maintain direction in the work.
The editing process helps smooth over the rough surfaces and trim the imperfections as much as necessary, Sometimes, the imperfections are a necessary part of creating the art. In the crafting of any human enterprise, there’s always going to be slight imperfections. That is, unless it’s the thesis of something so grand and undeniably universal that it has a sort of pseudo-perfection to it which must be beheld with the greatest awe.
Then again, the poet’s work is never truly finished until the poetry’s purpose is grasped by another mind. Whatever it takes to reach the mind and soul of another must be done. That’s the great mission of any poetry, in whatever form, to share that mind and soul unique to humankind with another.
I may often falter in being concise or clear. Perhaps for that, I’ve not really been much of a success as a poet. But, I don’t offer this advice as a sort of “self-help” lecture or even as just a reflection of my own experience. It’s simply to tell what I’ve painstakingly discovered over these many years of crafting far less than perfect verses and countless paragraphs of often aimless prose. The most important lesson I can teach you is that no matter what, you will write a lot of crap. This is simply a necessary part of the writing process.
Let the Words Flow, Then Keep What’s Vital
As has been said already, the poet must not be too mindful of structure. The form will appear on its own, if not right away, after careful and thoughtful editing, keeping only what is vital. But, it is all-important that the words not be told what to do until they’ve already been written.
Pure poetry must come from your own stream of consciousness. Do not immediately stop if it doesn’t seem original. The process must be unhindered from even the most casual scrutiny until what’s to be said is already there. Surely, more can be added to it later, but true poetry will take its form upon its conception.
It’s only after the verses are born that they can be effectively molded. The process I‘m describing is familiar to many as the notion of brainstorming. It’s indeed a sort of storm, this process. It must be naturally allowed to run its course before you do anything to try and harness what it leaves behind.
Some writers are immensely gifted in this sort of “brainstorming” and not so much in the subsequent editing and molding necessary to bring it into its final, proper, and most perfect form. Whatever talent you have in that latter area is critical to your success as a poet. If it reads as satisfactory as it is, don’t touch it. Let others decide how they will receive it. You’ve done your part.
There’s far more to poetry than any sort of rhyme scheme, meter, or any other structural element. These are, perhaps at best, tools the poet can use. But, it’s this poet’s opinion that the free-form writing must precede the use of any of these tools. Those tools should be part of the editing process, not to be used as much in the creative process.
If you find it easier to use “poetic conformity” in the creation of your pieces, then so be it. But, I can almost guarantee it will produce nothing as wholesome as letting free-form language flow, then applying whatever tools necessary to refine it. If you dare to be a poet, let the words take you where they will, and not the other way around.
~ Amelia <3