Thursday, January 16, 2020

The poetry technique of tiny


With the Internet speed of self-publishing, a poet’s rush to get published can quickly result in a lengthy poem that forgets the reader and says nothing new. It’s sort of like a one-sided, long-winded conversation – often boring to the other person.

If you even suspect this might be true of your poems, my advice is to write tiny.

Read haiku and other mini-poems.
Find out if there’s a form to follow.
Stay within the lines or syllabic count of that particular pattern.

This may sound confining but can actually be freeing as the last two years of poetry-writing have shown me. i.e., After a while, poems begin coming to you in 17 syllables.

Actually, the same is true if you start writing, in say, iambic pentameter or any other pattern. However, to stay on our present topic about the importance of little things in writing and revising, consider the senryu.

A senryu has the same 3-line pattern as the haiku with 5/7/5 syllables on each respective line. The difference between the two syllabic forms of poetry is in the content and purpose.

A haiku draws a quick sketch of a seasonal scene, often with a touch of humor.

A senryu presents a quick thought or insight.

This morning, for example, when I took my coffee onto the deck overlooking our little lake, this senryu came to mind:

Is it You I see?
Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.  
God is everywhere.

I went inside, wrote down those words before I forgot, then this revised version occurred to me:

Is it You I see?
Maybe. Probably. I’m not sure.
God is everywhere.

If, like most people, you’ve ever struggled with faith or moments of doubt, that poem might speak to you. So the reader could well have a part in the poem.

The capitalization of “You” is a small thing but alerts the reader to a conversation with God. The change between “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure” is small too, but weighty with possibility. For instance, if you take out that teeny tiny period ending the second line, you have an expression of doubt:

“I’m not sure God is everywhere.”

Yet another tiny change can turn the poem into a call-and-response or debate with oneself, if you simply add a line space:

Is it You I see?
Maybe. Probably. I’m not sure.

God is everywhere.

Then the small addition of italics for the last line can create further emphasis and possibly clarify the debate between doubt and faith. It might even highlight the fact that God's presence is beyond measure.

Is it You I see?
Maybe. Probably. I’m not sure.

God is everywhere.






No comments:

Post a Comment