In the Trenches
fall victim to the slashing pen,
silent chatter discarded,
bound characters boldly
replace the fallen symbols
to shape ideas into verse.
A battleground, blotched
and torn, valued
as much for what is lost,
as for what is gained.
-----------Judi Van Gorder
As you can see in the photo of my desk, I have an extensive library on reading and writing poetry plus a whole lot of poetry books filled with amazing works of great poets. What you see is only the books within arm's reach. There is another half wall bookcase nearby. So much advise and examples to help me write. So why do I have dry spells? Why can't I produce poetry on a regular basis?
Read, read, read! The authors say. Yes the more I read good poetry, the more I want to emulate it. The advise to READ good poetry is a great starting and continuing point for all aspiring writers. I'm not kidding myself, I'm not a Robert Frost or a Maya Angelou. But I can be me, with my experiences and my perspectives with my mind and heart. What I learn from reading is how to communicate those experiences etc. to hopefully transport other readers into my world for a moment.
A couple of books suggest we set aside a time and place to write each day. I've taken this advise and practiced it for periods of time and then life seems to always get in the way. But this works for many writers and if it works for you keep on keeping on. If you haven't tried it, it is a great idea and you should give it a shot. What's the worst that could happen? You have time set aside for your own thoughts. And the best case scenario, you might end up writing a masterpiece. Go for it.
I recently read a blog in which the blogger said she was going through a dry spell when she and a friend made an agreement to daily challenge each other with a different verse form and theme. She said the vast majority of her work was in free verse but taking up the challenge to write in restrictive form helped her focus her thoughts. She was forced to pay closer attention to word choice and other writing details and got her writing back on track on a more regular basis. I've experienced something similar by accepting a weekly forms challenge at Writing.com. I'm not sending anyone over to another poetry forum although I am pretty sure most of us already belong to more than one poetry community. Anyway I am writing again because of the challenges, most of it not great poetry but there are a couple I've written recently that I feel good about.
Of course right here in the reference section we have hundreds and hundreds of forms and genres explained and broken down by the elements. We can use this source for inspiration. The challenges at Writing.com often link to this site for the "how to" of the forms challenges. I'm a little embarrassed when I haven't already written an example poem for the challenge form. But the challenge not only prompts me to write in response, it also has brought me back to the reference section and to write more example poems as well as find and research more forms to add to our collection. I am certainly open to including someone else's poems as example of the various forms. I'd love your help to provide good sample poems to demonstrate the forms I've documented. Some of them are silly attempts to create a poetic structure. And I suspect some were just the result of someone writing a poem, then looking at the structure and giving the frame a name. But most classic verse forms are frames that delivered successful poems and others tried to emulate the success of the original poem by using the same frame. That's how a standard verse form happens. By the way, Free Verse is a verse form.
I think it is a given, you and I love poetry, that's why we are here. We also love to write so we need to keep READING and WRITING and WRITING some more. After all, not every poem that Dylan Thomas wrote was a master piece but he did not "go gentle into that good night," . He "raged, raged against the dying of the light" and left behind at least one piece that just about anyone who is an English speaker has heard and from which they can recite a line or two. So I will be looking to read your O Captain, My Captain or your Annabelle Lee and I'll read all of the rest of your attempts in the meantime.
I write to stretch myself
to be more of me
I write because I like words
I write because I don't have a horse
to ride anymore.
I write to surprise myself..
I write to leave a piece of myself
for my grandchildren.
I write because I can.
~~Judi Van Gorder
Whatever works for you, find a way to keep writing.
~~Tink aka Judi Van Gorder