On Poetry and What it Means to Me

You are currently viewing On Poetry and What it Means to Me

For me, poetry is about symbolism. In painting we use different techniques and colours to represent something and in poetry we use symbols to convey information.

Poetry is also about brevity: using fewer words to communicate something. 

Usually, when I write poetry, I don’t worry much about the formmeter or rhyme scheme, unless I write children’s poems.  The most important thing for me is communicating my idea. However, when I write poems for children I pay closer attention to the rhyme scheme and the number of feet in each line. In other words,  I pay attention to the rhythm.

Poetry is a convenient and creative way for me to express my feelings.  Convenient – because I like short poetry; and creative – because I can use various poetic devices to communicate my ideas.

While I write children’s poems in language that they can understand and relate to, I also rely on many literary devices to make my language more evocative.  Some of my favourite poetic devices that I like to use when writing children’s poetry are:

  • Alliteration
  • Imagery
  • Personification
  • Rhyme 
  • Repetition
  • Simile
  • Stanzas; and
  • Rhythm 

I’ve highlighted those that you will find in almost every poem that I’ve written for my youngest readers!

I particularly enjoy writing free verse (vers libre) poetry because it gives me a greater flexibility and freedom to choose words that best convey my message. In addition, free verse writing allows me to artistically represent my ideas without having to follow a regular rhyme scheme.

What does poetry mean to me?

  • A good poem should evoke emotions and inspire actions. If it doesn’t have an effect on the reader, then it wasn’t worth reading in the first place!
  • You should be able to make connections with the poet/poem. Take a look at your children’s language notebooks, for example. Every language teacher nowadays is emphasizing the importance of making text-to-self connections. Do you know what those are? When you’re encouraged to make a text-to-self connection, you’re expected to somehow relate to the text. You can begin by asking yourself: What’s the poet’s message? Do I agree with the poet or a speaker? How do I feel about the subject discussed in the poem? How does the language/diction in the poem make me feel? 
  • A poem should be discussed and interpreted in various ways. We could all read the same poem and have a different interpretation of it. For me, studying poetry is like analyzing paintings. Everyone looks at the same thing but sees something different.

Here I’m going to share one of my short poems. I want to show you how I approach poetry. I’ll divide it into two phases: 
I) Writing and
II) Interpreting

You’ll see the kinds of questions I ask myself as a writer and a reader. I hope you’ll find this information useful next time you decide to write or interpret a poem.

Image.jpeg

Phase I: WRITING

Before I write anything, I ask myself the following questions:

a) What do I want to communicate here

     *I wish to communicate that hatred and fear usually go hand in hand-together. 

Example: if you fear spiders, then you also hate them. If you hate something, ask yourself why that is the case. Do you fear it? If yes, why? 

b) What poetic devices do I want to use in order to communicate this message?
    *Symbolism: imagery – strong language

    *Metaphor – I want to compare hatred and fear to inseparable twins.

c) What background information do I need here in order to send my message across?

    *I research “conjoined twins” and the risk of separating them. I learn that separation almost always results in death. I wish to communicate that idea here by personifying Hatred and Fear. I’m using anthropomorphism they cry / [they] die) which refers to ascribing human qualities to inanimate or living things like animals. 

(metaphor: I compare hatred and fear to: loathing and dread / diabolical twins)

  • Symbolism: The twins are joined at the head. I choose this language purposefully to suggest to the reader that the feelings of hatred and fear are in our heads. Those are just our ideas, and the ideas come from our heads.
  • Symbolism: In unison they cry

       *I wish the reader to imagine this cry. I choose the word cry deliberately because when I think of shrieks or cries, I think of something disturbing. 

        *cry – something loud – something unpleasant – something disturbing (now imagine two heads crying!)

d) Finally, I rewrite my poem until I’m satisfied with diction (the choice of words). I want to use words like diabolicalpowerful and destructive to describe these powerful twins. 

Phase II: INTERPRETING

Let’s imagine I didn’t write this poem and I’m reading it for the first time. How do I begin?

a) I’m reading it because I like the title. Let’s see what the writer has to say about tolerance.

b) I see two stanzas and the language I can understand. (Now I can look at rhyme, feet, etc. if applicable) 

c) The imagery is dark here. I see the word diabolical and I know that the poetess doesn’t support Hatred and Fear. 

d) The writer addresses me directly. She tells me that I have the power to separate hatred and fear and destroy them. She also tells me that hatred and fear are in my head. She also empowers me by suggesting that I can separate/murder the two evil twins. 

e) She uses powerful language like: diabolical, powerful, destructive to describe the two.

  • What’s my reaction to the poem? 
  • Do I agree with the writer?
  • How do I like the illustration? Does it complement the poem? 
  • Have I read other similar poems? How do they compare? 
  • Can I relate to the speaker in the poem? 
    *These are some of the questions I can consider while interpreting this poem. 

    **On Tolerance (poem) – written and illustrated by Vedrana

    Blog: Written and illustrated by Vedrana Vodopivec
    February, 2021