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Saturday, August 27, 2016

A poem is a poem is a poem

What is a poem? Answers will vary, depending on whom you ask, but basically, a poem is a poem because the poet calls it a poem or because someone recognizes some sort of poetic quality in it.

Occasionally poets have called scrambled lines or incoherent phrases a poem without fear of having their poetic license revoked. However, if you want your poems to be appealing to you and other readers too, think of the characteristics that long-cherished poems often have in common:

EMOTION-APPEAL – Stirring poems address a topic or situation you care about – one with which most people can identify. In other words, your subject matter matters – not only to you but others as well.

MIND-APPEAL – A memorable poem clarifies a concept, often using a comparison to bring an abstract subject into clearer view or sharper focus. You make the unknown better known – to yourself and to your readers.

EAR-APPEAL – A well-tuned poem composes syllables and word plays to sound and resound with echoes and rhythmic beat. As maestro, you set the pace and call the tune to which many others sway.

EYE-APPEAL – A well-formed poem uses words, punctuates thoughts, and breaks lines to clarify a picture or to spotlight something you want to stress. With fine-tipped artistry, you show precisely what you intend to communicate or reveal.

SPIRIT-APPEAL – A lasting poem speaks truths that ring true and stay true. Your reception of love, justice, empathy, and forgiveness provide real wisdom and unbiased truths for you to compare, contrast, or re-present.

Memorable poems have timeless connections to the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical natures people experience themselves or encounter in others. Such lines, drawn from common interests and concerns, bring fresh insights or conclusions you easily could have missed without the poem to coax you toward a longer, deeper, closer look.

• Poems are meant to be seen. They're meant to create mental pictures and re-create physical scenes.

• Poems are meant to be heard. They're meant to be read aloud – in public or in private.

• Poems are meant to be felt – to have a strong impact on emotions, mind, senses, and spirit.

Unfortunately, some feelings erupt from misunderstandings. Some sounds merely make noise. Some sights are not worth seeing. However, when you have a single theme and a clear purpose in mind as you edit or revise, your poem will be more apt to become a cohesive, artistic unit.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, (c)2016, 2012, 2005, 1983 from poetry course now as the Kindle e-book, the Christian Poet's Guide to Writing Poetry