Why write poetry

Who Gives a Rip About Poetry?

Why write poetry

In the last few weeks I signed up to take two poetry seminars. Both were cancelled for lack of interest. A novel-writing course at the same venue was so popular they had to add a second session. Which lead me to wonder whether anyone gives a rip about poetry.

I do.

Poets know how to pack a punch is so few lines it makes me shake my head in wonder. I still am amazed at the power of four tiny lines in one of Emily Dickinson’s poems:

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, anytime to him
is aristocracy.

Short, punchy, pithy, an homage to nature.

Or how about Mary Oliver’s Sleeping in the Forest?

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

Can you read that and not be in awe of “arranging her dark skirts”, or “white fire of the stars”?

We prose writers have so much to learn from the poets. And I’m disappointed that both of my classes were cancelled.

But . . . .I decided to go looking for a poetic form I didn’t know . . . and found the cinquain:

Line one has two syllables.
Line two has four syllables.
Line three has six syllables.
Line four has eight syllables.
Line five has two syllables.

I’m going to see what I can create all on my own. Join me?


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