Happy Wednesday, everyone.
I hope you are enjoying the conference challenges. And, while we do like to get people thinking- you can’t win if you don’t actually do the exercises and comment. So, in order to continue honing our craft and invoking that interactive component to the blog we have (drum roll please) another writing challenge: POETRY! (No groaning and/or cursing- you can do it!) The good news is that you have already worked on overcoming failure and the importance of simplicity in the previous exercises. You’re half way there.
Coming up with a clear definition of poetry these days is really difficult. There is no standard. And, hey, that works for me. Why be stuck in a box of rigid thinking, right? I could say that poetry is a literary art that uses language to express ideas, convey experience and evoke emotions in a vivid and imaginative way. But, what does that really mean? Seriously, aren’t we as creative writers and illustrators doing all that already? I like to think so, anyway.
Poetry as an art form may even predate literacy. The oldest surviving poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, was written in the third millennium B.C. on clay tablets.
So, I’m thinking we can do this challenge. We have computers and indoor plumbing. Set aside an hour (or so) and the elements of poetry could even improve your writing and illustrating. No joke. I have to admit, poetry pushes me way out of my comfort zone. But, if I can do it- so can you.
Okay, I like things broken down. I’m a slow learner, what can I say? Poetry is all about breaking things down, concentrating them into their essential elements. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to convey their meaning in a more precise and clear way?
Clear? Concise? Poetry? You may be thinking I am completely nuts. (And, that may be true.) After all, how many of you have read a poem only to wonder what the heck it was really about? I know I have, but that probably goes back to that slow learner thing.
According to John Timpane of the poetry center, there are a few key elements to writing poetry:
experimentation and form.
Now, let’s use them to write our very own poem. Remember to breathe. No one is going to see your poem, unless you want them to. I have already made a run for the snickerdoodles just thinking about this exercise.
Poetry, like all creative arts, is rooted in the everyday. So, we have plenty of experiences to draw from.
I like to think of poetry as music that uses words and their sound as a rhythm. It is the sound of the language and it’s placement in the line that causes the reader to imagine our meaning.
I am suggesting that we throw the traditional rules out the window when we write our poems. Pay no attention to what “should” or “shouldn’t” be in there. Just write what comes to you.
Now, let’s get started!
If we take a good look around, and use our attentiveness, we can select a subject for our poem. It can be anything, really! (the awkward silence when you say goodbye to somebody and then walk away in the same direction, a beloved pet, the hair that grows on your big toe) Come up with an idea/subject you know well.
Next, really concentrate on that subject. Pay super close attention to it and make a list of descriptors. Focus on all the details and be specific. Adrienne Rich said, “Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language.”
Then, concentrate it further- condense it and come up with it’s essence. But, reject anything too commonplace. Think of totally new ways (originality) to describe the object or occurrence. Remove everything non-essential from your list. In the words of Sir Philip Sidney, “Poetry is a speaking picture…”
Now, experiment with the form and organize your poem. Write a few passages on your subject. Make it rhyme or write in free verse. Mess with the spacing, the syllables, the length of the lines.
Rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more. (In my case, wipe brow and hit delete a few hundred times)
Illustrators’ Challenge #3
We haven’t forgotten all you talented illustrators. Chieu Urban has come up with a fabulous exercise for this week. Good luck to everyone.
Have you ever tried drawing with your non-dominant hand? It’s a great exercise and the results are loose and sometimes whimsical. Last weekend, I spent a good part of my day experimenting with my left hand (I’m right handed) and just love the free style effect. Let us know how your illustrations turn out!
Good luck with this week’s challenge. And, don’t forget to leave a comment in this post to qualify to win the raffle.