Poetry essay: How to write many poems about the same subject so they come across differently

Sometimes a poet writes many poems about the same subject.  For example, think of a woman experiencing a pregnancy.  If she were a poet, she might write many poems about the experience of having a child.

When writing many poems about the same subject, a poet might be concerned about all their poems sounding the same.  They might wonder how they can write about the same thing, while having the poems sound and come across differently to readers.  They might wonder how they can have poems that seem new and different, while still having them be about the same subject.

There are a number of approaches a poet could take.  To illustrate them, the example above of a woman having a child will be used.

Different perspectives

One idea to make poems about the same thing sound different, is to write them from different perspectives.  In the case of a mother having a child, she could write about the experience from her perspective, the baby’s father’s perspective, the baby’s perspective, the medical staff’s perspective, the grandparents’ perspective, and others.  The same event would be experienced in different ways by different people, and expressing that could add variety to the poetry.

Different times

Another approach is to write about an experience from different times.  In the case of a mother having a child, the entire experience lasts nine months.  She could pick different times during this period and write about the experience from that perspective.  For example, a poem written about what the first month was like, would be different from a poem written about what the eighth month was like.

Different events

A poet could also write about different events in a subject.  In the case of a mother having a child, she could write about events like finding out she was pregnant, telling the baby’s father, feeling the baby kick for the first time, and so forth.  Each of these events could be a different poem.

Different emotions

In any experience there are different emotions.  It can depend on a lot of things.  Using the example of a pregnancy, a woman might at different times feel happy, excited, scared, frustrated, worried, anxious, and other emotions.  Each of these emotional perspectives could lead to different poetry expressions.

Different forms

Different poetry forms can impart a different feeling to poems, even if those poems are about the same subject.  A limerick about something, will sound different than a haiku about the same thing, and that will sound different than a free verse poem about the subject.  A poet could use different forms to make the same subject come across differently to readers.

Different levels

In experiences there can be different levels that they can be looked at.  For the example of a woman experiencing a pregnancy, levels might be motherhood overall, mothers as a group, a group of mothers, and herself as a mother.  If she writes about pregnancy from these different levels, the poems would come across differently, even though they were about the same general topic.  (As another example, think of a poet who wanted to write about trees.  They could write about nature, forests, a forest, trees, a tree, a branch, a twig, and a leaf.  It is the same general subject, but from different levels.)

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Experimental Poetry Form: fifty characters

Today’s experimental poetry form is called fifty characters.  The form requirement is simple: the poem (excluding the title) must have fifty characters.  Characters are letters, numbers, spaces, punctuation marks, returns, and other things that make up text.  The number of characters can be counted by hand, or by using a word processing software.  Other than this requirement, the poet is free to add elements to the form in any way they wish.

Here is an example poem:

Hunger

water
yeast
brown sugar
oil
salt
whole wheat flour

Poetry topic idea: gossip

Today’s poetry topic idea is gossip.  There are different ways a poet could use gossip in poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • People gossiping about the poet. They could write about what they could say, how they would say it, and what the poet would feel.
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  • People gossiping about some third person. A poet could write about people gossiping about someone other than the poet.  Again, they could write what they could say, how they would say it, and what the person they are talking about would feel.
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  • The effects of gossip.
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  • Celebrity gossip. A poet could write about this from different perspectives.  They could write about celebrities, the gossipers, and the people consuming the gossip.
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  • The truth or falseness of gossip.
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  • Themselves gossiping. A poet could write a poem where they gossip.  Rather than doing harmful gossip though, the poet could focus on the effects of their gossip.  They could view it remorsefully.
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  • Nonhuman objects or beings gossiping. A poet could write a poem where animals gossip.  They could write a poem where objects gossips (e.g. the romance book on a shelf gossiping about a science fiction book on another shelf).

Here is an example poem using the idea of gossip:

Did you hear about Ham?

 What?

He dumped Cheddar for Swiss.

 No way!

That’s not all,
last week,
he was seen with Colby.

 Wait,
 wasn’t Colby,
 with Turkey?

Artwork to inspire poetry: faded iris

faded iris

Above is an artwork of a faded iris.  It can inspire poetry.  A poet could be inspired to write about:

  • Life fading. The iris is fading and a poet could relate this to a person who is dying.
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  • Rebirth. After the flower fades, there will be seeds (although an iris might more normally be grown from bulbs).  These seeds could be new plants.  This idea could be translated to rebirth and applied to other situations.
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  • Time. A flower fading shows the progression of time.  A poet could apply this idea to other things.  An example might be a building that deteriorates over time.
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  • Tired. A flower fading could be related to the idea of being tired or spent.  A poet could apply this idea to other situations.
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  • Losing vision. An iris, in addition to being a flower, is also a word that describes a part of the eye.  A poet could write about someone losing their vision.

Here is a poem inspired by the artwork:

her breathing slowed

Poetry essay: Political poetry

One subject that can be found in poetry is politics.  This essay looks at the idea of if a poet should write about politics in poetry, and if so, how.

There are a number of reasons a poet might choose to write about politics.  It could be a poet feels strongly about a certain issue and wants to express that.  A poet might want to influence readers to see their point of view on an issue.  A poet might want to support a particular political philosophy or candidate.  A poet might want to support a change in society.

In writing poetry about politics, there are some things to consider.

First, politics can be an emotional subject.  It can sometimes be draining for a poet when they really want to express an idea about something they feel strongly about.  Also, the tone of political poetry can sometimes be one of persuasion, refutation, or argument, and this can be draining as well.

Second, politics, by its nature, can be divisive.  Some readers will agree with a point of view and others will disagree.  The audience will not only be limited, as it would be with any poetry subject, but it will also have readers opposed to the message expressed.

Third, politics is a timely subject, which means the poet will have to keep up with current events to write about it.

Politics can be an interesting idea for a poet to write about.  Sometimes a person feels strongly about something, and there is also something about having the chance to influence society through ideas and words.

In writing about politics, a poet could choose along the spectrum of being subtle to being direct.

The pros of subtle political poetry are that a poet can express an idea in a way that might not seem political.  For example, if a poet felt a certain way about minimum wage laws, they could write poetry that either focused on groups that benefit from them or groups that don’t, in such a way that they get the idea across without seeming to be supporting a political idea.

For example, if a poet thought minimum wage levels should be raised, they could write a poem about a worker at a minimum wage job who can’t pay their bills.  They could focus on the plight of the person, while only subtly referencing the reason.

Alternatively, if a poet thought minimum wage levels shouldn’t be raised, they could write a poem about a small business that went out of business, in part because of worker salaries.

In both these situations, the poet would be expressing their point of view, but in such a way that it wouldn’t come across as supporting a political idea.

The downside of subtle poetry, is that if it is too subtle, the message can get lost.  A poet might not get their point of view across.

If a poet decided to be direct in their poetry about politics, the benefit would be that they could get their message across in a clear way.  It would be clear to the reader what the poet believes.

The downside to this is that it could alienate readers and invite argument.  If a poet is direct about a political belief, some readers won’t like their point of view and others may argue about it with the poet.

Direct political poetry might work better in situations where a poet is speaking to an audience that shares the same beliefs.  The idea is to reach people who think the same way.

Subtle political poetry might work better in situations where a poet is speaking to an audience that is along a spectrum of disagreement with the view of the poet.  It could be the readers have not thought about the issue, or that they are slightly to mildly opposed to the point of view of the poet.  Subtle poetry could be a way to reach them.

There are a number of reasons a poet might write political poetry.  Before doing so though, a poet should consider the drawbacks of it, as well as how direct they want to be.

Poetry topic idea: books

Today’s poetry topic idea is books.  There are a number of things a poet could write about that reference books.  Some ideas include:

  • Libraries.
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  • Librarians.
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  • Novels.
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  • Diaries.
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  • Dusty tomes.
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  • Imagination.
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  • Learning.
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  • Studying.
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  • School.
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  • Encyclopedias.
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  • Writing.
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  • Publishing.
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  • Bookstores.
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  • Books of poetry (Like M. Sakran’s book First Try)
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  • eBooks (Like M. Sakran’s eBook Understanding: poems with explanations)
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  • Authors.
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  • Paper.
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  • Fonts.
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  • Printing.

 

Here is an example poem using the idea books:

Finding the diary,
in the attic,
he learned what really happened,
all those years ago.

Experimental Poetry Form: Twenty one word lines

Today’s experimental poetry form is called twenty one word lines.  It consists of twenty lines, each with one word.  The idea of the form was inspired by the poem in the post from March 8, 2019.  That poem was a train of thought poem that had nineteen lines, with most being one word.

Although the form could be used to create a train of thought poem (where one idea leads to the next like with word association), it could also be used to write out a sentence or something else.

Here is an example poem that is a train of thought poem:

hunger
food
fruit
stand
roadside
cars
dirt
clean
water
soap
bars
prison
concrete
driveway
mailbox
letter
open
close
business
hours

Some train of thought poems, like the one above, just lead off.  They have no circularity.  Some train of thought poems, like the one from the March 8th post, do have a circularity.  There are other effects as well.

Here is another example poem.  This one is one sentence broken up:

Having
no
shower,
he
did
his
best,
and
washed
his
face,
arms,
and
hands
in
the
convenience
store
bathroom
sink.

A photograph to inspire poetry: lemon flower

lemon flower

Above is a photograph of a lemon flower.  It can inspire poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • The future. This flower in the future may become a lemon.  A poet could write about what something or someone might become in the future.
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  • Potential. This flower has the potential to become a lemon.  A poet could write about a person or a thing that has potential.
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  • Aroma. This flower has a sweet aroma.  A poet could write about scent and aroma.  They could apply the idea to flowers, perfume, food, and other things.
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  • Temporariness. This flower is temporary. At some point the blossom will fade.  A poet could apply this idea to many situations.
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  • Lemonade. This flower may turn into a lemon.  That lemon may be turned into lemonade.  A poet could write about this literally, metaphorically, or they could work with the expression about life giving a person lemons and that person making lemonade.  They could apply the idea to making the best of a situation.

Here is an example poem:

lemon
yellow
crayon
drawing
sunset
orange color
orange fruit
juice
breakfast
pancakes
syrup
maple trees
forests
leaves
green
grass
sunshine
yellow
lemon