I’m a person full of life… why should I struggle with flowery words to create a poem? Poems are confounding to me, is such writing really necessary? On the flip side, some poets–such as the late Maya Angelou–stop me dead in my tracks. I am captured by her words. They are stunning, uplifting:
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth
The swing in my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
What are some definitions of poetry to better understand it?
Poetry is “a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound symbolism—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic perceived meaning.”
“an arrangement of words, especially a rhythmical composition, sometimes rhymed, in a style more imaginative than ordinary speech”
“a composition, in verse, especially one characterized by a highly developed form and the use of heightened language and rhythm to express an imaginative interpretation of the subject”
In The Poetry Reader’s Toolkit by Marc Polonsky he says, “Prose is words in the best order. Poetry is the best words in the best order.” And he adds: “Poetry is words, chosen and arranged in such a way as to inspire the imagination.” I like this definition best.
Poetry then is like music, it contains rhythms which affect our moods and spirit. The words of our favorite songs cast little spells on us as we sing them. Poetry does the same thing. Both poetry and music engage our imagination. What they make us do is open up our imaginations in order to understand their symbolism. Then we can derive enjoyment, melancholy or satisfaction. For instance Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”:
Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
You’re gonna wish you never had met me
And you played it, to the beat
Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep
The first time I heard Adele sing this song I was in the car sitting in the Sam’s parking lot and was spellbound. I was “rolling in the deep” with her and literally could not move until she finished the song. Then she left my heart pounding as I finally got out of the car.
I agree with Polonsky that poetry has been needlessly mystified in our culture. Just as there is an infinite variety of musical forms–poetry encompasses infinite expressions and styles. We may think we know what poetry is, and in a sense we do, but only in a limited sense. Because poetry is limitless, we don’t have to be afraid of it, there are no rules. You may (probably do) have a better knowledge base for poetry than I do… but that does not mean I cannot enjoy it just as much.
A recent National Science Foundation study involving 2,200 participants inspired me to write a poem. The study stunned me: It found 25% of Americans got this question wrong: “Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?” That’s right – one in four Americans think the sun goes around the earth. However, Americans actually fared better than Europeans who answered the same question. Only 66% of European Union residents answered it correctly. Mind boggling! Here is a poem I wrote in my book.
LOVING OUR BLUE EARTH
Love spoke and made our blue earth, not to be the center of the universe, but its muse,
Love spoke and made our blue earth the third rock from the sun, Terra, solid, drifting, with vibrant, exploding life,
Love spoke and made the third rock spin and circle around the sun, with a tilt Terra spins, making seasons abound, arrays of colors bursting,
Love spoke and made Luna, dazzling sister to our blue earth, tugging, teasing our waters, one declared we’d often visit, just because,
Love spoke and made our sun, stunningly rise and fall peacefully for our blue earth, but no, Love gently spins and turns Terra to the East each day,
Love spoke and made our sun, Helios, our brightest Hero Star, one we could ever follow, never floating away, like Love itself,
Love spoke and made our Star give our blue earth, light, life, our sight, and warmth—just right, boundless energy, gratefully received,
Love spoke and made our blue earth ride in the Galaxy of Milky Way, majestic spiral, glowing band, heavenly teeming of kinship,
Love spoke and made Love to be written in the Sky, never alone, designed, evolving, sustained harmony, loving our blue earth, gracefully conceived for Love.
I invite you to write a poem inspired from the topic of the sun, earth and our galaxy from your own worldview. The next time you watch a sunset or sunrise, can you imagine the earth moving instead of the sun? Write a poem, up to 20 lines, either rhyming or free verse, on this subject and post it here by replying to this post. I will send an autographed copy of my book to the one that (in my opinion) has the most beauty or striking language, a fresh/unique perspective or has an intriguing story or flow.
Please feel free to write your poem your way, there is only one rule, up to 20 lines, and have fun with it!
Thank you for reading my post. I am an organizational and business consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.
Read more in my book: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut