Salena’s URSP Poetry Video

Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society: I guess the first question I want to pose for you all is: If poetry is supposed to come
from passion and beauty and love, why does everybody hate writing a single poem? Why
is there always a sense of dread whenever poetry, or even writing a poem, comes up? I’ll tell you why. Because writing a poem, a single, well crafted poem, takes skill. I kind of think of it as trying to bake something, but you don’t have a recipe, and you don’t really know what the final product will be. All you have are the main ingredients, and hopefully some chocolate chips to add in the mix. When writing a single poem, the poet walks
a fine line between craft and crap. Like any
good recipe, in order to avoid crap, I found in
my research that a blend of the following main ingredients are necessary for a well crafted poem. These are Title, Form, Voice, Subject, and Imagery. The conditions that play into this, like adding in flavors or variations, are Environment, Time, Weather, Mode, and Distractions. The significance of this research was to discover what elements it takes to craft a poem, and to put these findings to the test in my own writing. As
for how I conducted my research, I looked at various poets across the ages and their noteworthy works, as well as essays on writing poetry, in order to model and gain ideas from well crafted poems. First I’ll discuss the crafting side of a poem, and then I’ll go into the conditions that play into it. Title. The first thing people read in a poem. As Dean Young says from The Art of Recklessness, “Poetry is an art of beginnings and ends. You want middles, read novels. You want happy endings, read cookbooks.” And
Title is definitely a key part to any beginning
of a poem. Here’s a little excerpt of a poem by Charles Wright, an award winning American Poet, just to give you all an idea
of what I’m talking about. The Title of his poem is: Looking Across Laguna Canyon At Dusk, West- By-NorthWest Now listen to the first stanza with his Title in mind. I love the way the evening sun goes down, orange brass- plaque, life’s loss-logo, Behind the Laguna hills and bare night-wisps of fog. I love the way the hills empurple and sky
goes nectarine, The way the lights appear like little electric fig seeds, the wet west Burnishing over into the indeterminate colors of the divine. The title in this poem serves as a pin on
a map, and also kind of prepares the reader
for what they are about to read, or hear, in this case. Sure, if I just read the poem without the title, you would be able to figure out where the poet is and what he’s doing. But
the title in this case is especially needed for the first line, to help connect a place and
an image together, and to also paint an image
for the reader from the get go. The next thing that is generally noticed right away is Form. This is the physical structure of the poem, and also how it looks on the
page visually. This includes line breaks, rhythms, rhymes, and all that jazz. Think of form as
a ballet dancer. As author Robert Pinsky says
in Singing School, “form enables emotion, in shapes of speed and suspension. Form concentrates force…as in other kinds of performance, or in editing a movie, the relation between pause and movement is essential to writing in lines.” It gives a poem movement and makes a reader pause for emphasis. Form is also something that I tend to play with, generally with line breaks. I spend
a lot of time messing around with the the way
a word or sentence is placed to evoke movement on a still page. For me, form in a poem comes naturally and most of my poems generally have some element of form in them. Another main component in the crafting of
a poem is Voice. This is also known as tone,
and according to Stephen Dobyns in Best Words
Best Order, “tone is the emotional distance between speaker and subject matter. It also indicates the writer’s emotional distance to the reader.” And because I think Voice is such an important part of a poem, here’s a good example that
I really enjoyed from Richard Siken out of his book Crush. The poem’s called “A Primer for the Small Weird Loves.” The green-eyed boy in the powder-blue t-shirt standing next to you in the supermarket recoils as
if hit, repeatedly, by a lot of men, as if he has a history of it. This is not your problem. You have your own body to deal with. The lamp by the bed is broken. You are feeling things he’s no longer in touch with. And everyone is speaking softly, so as not to wake one another. The wind knocks the heads of the flowers together. Steam rises from every cup at every table
at once. Things happen all the time, things happen every minute that have nothing to do with us. Voice is something that runs through the core of a poem and bleeds onto the page. This is really what connects the reader with the poet, and without that connection, a poem can get overlooked. Another important aspect in crafting a poem that can get overlooked is subject. Without it, a poem would just be meaningless words
on a white piece of paper. Subject is what brings substance to a poem, and also forges a connection with the reader. For example, the Pulitzer Prize Winning poet Philip Levine is best known for his poems about working-class Detroit, but his subjects range from a lecture in an art and science class to gin to his younger brother. Sharon Olds, also a Pulitzer winner, ranges in her subjects from the death of her father to her daughter to a miscarriage. The last but not least ingredient in crafting a poem is Imagery. Imagery in a poem is about showing, not telling. For me, it’s like taking a picture with words. And throughout this research I have found that in my poems it’s a hit or miss with imagery. I either capture something perfectly, or not at all. But one poet that seems to always hit the
mark is Pablo Neruda. Just listen to the painting he creates for us in the first couple lines from his poem “Leaning into the evenings”
from The Essential Neruda. Leaning into the evenings I throw my sad nets to your ocean eyes. There my loneliness stretches and burns in
the tallest bonfire, arms twisting like a drowning man’s. I cast red signals over your absent eyes which lap like the sea at the lighthouse shore. Now let’s move on to the conditions of writing a poem. I like to think of these aspects as the add ins or toppings that can affect the “flavor” of a poem. The first major condition that can have a profound affect on a poem is Environment.
This could be a desk in a bedroom or office, a table at a coffee shop, or a bench at the park. In my experience, the surroundings or environment one is writing in can kind of
leak into a poem, sometimes even unknowingly. And as for my own environment, this is pretty much what it looks like. But I also think
it’s essential to have a place to talk about poems too, and not just for writing. This is that kind of place for me, but finding a second “environment” where a poem can sort of
breath and be heard aloud is just as important as finding one to write in. Another condition that is similar to environment is Time. Whether a poem is written in the early morning, after lunch, at 2 AM or anywhere
in between. For example, writing poetry at night versus afternoons can have a direct effect on the aura of a poem. Distractions. This next condition can also
be linked to Time, or when others are around. Also can be internal or external distractions, such as thoughts on upcoming deadlines or assignments to shouts from kids in the next room or a neighbor mowing their lawn. For the most part, internal distractions can be more detrimental than external ones, because they tend to be the most persistent. But since I can usually tune out my inner thoughts, external distractions tend to be
the biggest issue for me. When a poet is suddenly jerked from their trance, it can be really difficult to get back in the writing groove again. Also, a poem can sound choppy if it’s written in more than one sitting, like two different people wrote it. The next condition is a small one, but still important in the making of a poem. It’s mode. Mode is how a poem is written, whether scribbled in a notebook or typed on a laptop. I personally have found that writing in notebooks gives me a sense of control, and
I think it’s more portable than a laptop. Lined paper can also affect the form of a poem versus a blank white piece of paper, because the lines can force a poet to conform to the page, while a blank piece of paper does not. And the last condition, the one that probably has the greatest affect on a poem is- Weather. It can not only affect the poet’s emotional disposition, but also a poem’s overall aura. Winter, Fall, Summer, Spring, and all the rain, sunshine, hail, and storms that they bring can influence different types of poems. Now here’s a little excerpt from one of my poems that has elements of weather: It’s called “Before I start typing” another sip of lukewarm tea one more pair of socks with holes add a second layer of mismatched gloves Okay, now I’m ready. Now in case you fell asleep during this video, here’s a quick ending recap of my research
to bring you up to speed. If everybody were to think of writing a poem in baking terms, then all that is needed to begin are the main ingredients. Start with
a solid Title, then add Form, sprinkle in Voice, a dash of Subject, and generous spoonfuls
of Imagery. Then comes the conditions, like multiple toppings that bring in different flavors. The implications of
my findings show that when these elements are mixed together, they can create a well crafted and enjoyable poem that will make everyone
beg for seconds.

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