Bilingual Poem: toilet repair

when repairing a toilet,
you must ignore the icky,
or the whole experience,
will go down the drain

 

cuándo reparando un excusado,
usted debe hacer caso omiso repugnante,
o la entera experiencia,
irá abajo el desaguardero

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A photograph to inspire poetry: snow on a fig tree

snow on fig tree

Above is a photograph of snow on a fig tree.  Here are some poetry ideas that can come from it:

  • The snow on the branches and leaves is clearly defined. There isn’t much snow below the tree and there isn’t much of the tree without snow.  A poet could use the idea of clear definition in poetry.  A poet could write a poem where they are very specific with their subject matter.  They could be detailed and have details regarding it.  This could differ from poetry with a more general subject.
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  • Some of the leaves with snow look like designs. A poet could use these designs as inspiration for poetry.  For example, the designs might remind a poet of a crest on a shield and a poet might write a medieval based poem.  As another example, a poet might see the designs and think of them as emblems for some group.  They could write poetry about the group.
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  • The tree is carrying the weight of the snow. A poet could use the idea of carrying weight metaphorically in a poem to describe someone with an emotional burden.
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  • The snow hides the tree. A poet could write about a person who hides their feelings.

Poetry topic idea: frustration

Today’s poetry topic idea is frustration.  A poet could use frustration in poetry in different ways.

  • A poet could write about situations that are frustrating. For example, a poet could write about doing a task that should be simple, but turns out to be difficult.
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  • A poet could wait until they are experiencing frustration. They could write about the actual experience.
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  • A poet could write from the perspective of the person or thing causing frustration. They could examine how and why the frustration is being caused.  They might choose to examine the idea of intentional frustration.  They could write about a person intentionally frustrating another person for different reasons.
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  • A poet could write about resisting the feeling of frustration. They could write about how a person changes their perspective or situation and calms down.
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  • A poet could write about persistence or giving up in the face of frustration. They could write about a person in a frustrating situation and how that person refuses to give up.  They could write about this as either determination or stubbornness.  Alternatively, they could write about a person giving up in the face of frustration.  They could view this as either wise (the person knew when to move on) or as a lack of resolve.

Poem with an explanation: the darkness of irrationality

The darkness of irrationality,
in the twilight of sensibility,
the sounds and glimpses,
transform and grow,
and there in the shadows,
where the metal turns,
translucent forms,
hide in the fog.

 

This poem is about someone being afraid.  They are home alone, at night, and a sense of fear comes over them.

The first line, The darkness of irrationality, shows that the person’s fear isn’t founded on anything specific.  They have a fear that there is someone outside their home who wants to come inside and do them harm.  The person though, isn’t afraid of someone they know, or someone nearby, or something they heard in the news.  They are simply afraid.  They have a fear of what might or could be.

The second line, in the twilight of sensibility, is meant to contrast with the first.  While the person’s general fear is irrational, the idea of their fear isn’t.  There could be someone outside.  There is the real possibility of a home invasion or some other kind of harm.  There is a sense of sensibility in the person being aware and cautious of the possibility.  The person though, goes to the level of irrationality in the sense that they are continuously afraid of the idea.

The first line and the second line are meant to show a contrast through their form.  Both lines are ten syllables long.  The first line has darkness, while the second has twilight.  The first line has irrationality, while the second has sensibility.  The equal lengths paired with the opposite words shows the contrast of the ideas.

The third line, the sounds and glimpses, describes the audial and visual things that increase the person’s fear.  The person hears many noises.  Their heater makes a noise.  Their refrigerator makes a noise.  The house creaks.  They also see things like reflections or things out of the corner of their eye.  These things are interpreted by the person as signs of what they fear.  They believe each noise is someone outside and each sight might be someone inside.

The fourth line, transform and grow, refers to the sounds and glimpses of the third line.  As the person grows more afraid, the idea of what could be causing the sounds and glimpses grows.  The person becomes more afraid with each instance.

The fifth and sixth lines, and there in the shadows, where the metal turns, describes the unseen places of the person’s house.  They imagine that there is someone outside of these places trying to get in.  This “getting in” is described as a lock turning or, where the metal turns.  They have the horror movie image of a lock slowly turning, in their mind.

The eighth line, translucent forms, describes who the person is afraid of.  It is a vague image of a person.  It is what they imagine an intruder would look like.  It is a composite of criminal images they have seen.  The image is vague and not defined because the person is afraid of an idea more than of an actual person.  The vagueness is shown through the idea of the forms being translucent.

The last line, hide in the fog, shows that, partially, the person is afraid of the unknown.  They are afraid of what they can’t see outside.  Also, it shows the confusion of their fear.

This poem is about a person afraid alone at night in their house.  The idea of it is to describe, in some sense, the haziness of the person’s fear.  The person is afraid, but their fear, in some sense, isn’t based on anything substantial.  The person is mainly afraid of the possibility of something.  They, in some sense, want to be on guard for it.

The poem isn’t meant to criticize the person for their fear.  Describing the fear as irrational isn’t meant to imply that the person is.  The idea of the poem is meant to describe how an irrational fear can grow, even in a rational person, under certain conditions.

P. S. Do you like poems with explanations? Did you know that M. Sakran has an eBook of them?  It is true.  You can learn more about the eBook and purchase a copy from here: Understanding: poems with explanations.

A photograph to inspire poetry: lemon with snow

lemon with snow

Above is a photograph of a lemon with snow on it.  There are a number of poetry ideas that can come from this photograph.  Some include:

  • The photograph shows a contrast – there is a bright tasting fruit with cold snow. This idea could be applied to poetry.  A poet might write a poem about two people, one who behaves brightly, and one who behaves coldly.
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  • There is the question of whether the snow will damage the fruit or the tree. The idea of unknown possible damage could be used in poetry.  A poet could think of many situations where there is a sense of uncertainty about potential negative consequences.
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  • Some might look at this photograph and see hope. Despite the snow, there is the fruit.  A poet could apply this idea of hope to different ideas.
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  • Some might look at this photograph and see despair. They might think it inevitable that the snow will damage the tree and fruit.  This idea of despair could be applied to different ideas for poetry.

Artwork to inspire poetry: snowman

snowman

The above artwork is of a snowman.  The snowman is only a few inches high and is on concrete.  The reason for this, is that the snowman was made in a place where it rarely ever snows and only received an inch or so of snow at the time the snowman was formed.

This artwork can inspire poetry.  Some ideas include:

  • A poet could write about the conditions under which this snowman was made – in a place that rarely receives snow and only received a little. A poet could write about how people might react to the unusual phenomenon.  A poet might contrast this, with how people in places that receive a lot of snow feel about snow.
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  • This snowman is very small. It was made that way because of the limited amount of snow.  A poet could apply this idea to the idea of making due.  A poet could write about people in circumstances where they have to accomplish something with limited resources.
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  • This snowman is on concrete. A poet could write about the juxtaposition of those two things.
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  • A poet could contrast the situations of making a small snowman with that of making a large one.
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  • This snowman is temporary. A poet could apply this idea to many situations in life.

Experimental Poetry Form: rhyming with syllable count for the rhyming words

This experimental poetry form focuses on rhyming, with the added feature of syllable count for the rhyming words.  Here are the specifics of the form:

One stanza

Six lines

Five words per line

Lines 1 and 4 rhyme

Lines 2 and 5 rhyme

Lines 3 and 6 rhyme

Lines 1 and 4 each end with a one syllable word

Lines 2 and 5 each end with a two syllable word

Lines 3 and 6 each end with a three syllable word

 

Here is an example poem to illustrate the form:

Radio play

There alone on the chair,
sitting by the radio seeing,
the man hiding there silently,
and imagining his cold glare,
knowing he’s a fictional being,
yet still running off violently.

Poetry essay: Clear vs. mixed clear and obscure vs. obscure poetry

Sometimes when a reader reads a poem, the meaning can seem very clear.  For example, look at the following poem:

The death of Rollie the cat

Sometime in the night,
beneath the blue chair,
her eyes closed.

This poem should be very clear to the reader.  The title describes exactly what it is about and the poem itself, in some sense, fulfills the title.  From the title, a reader should be expecting to read about the death of Rollie the cat, and then they do.

Although the poem is clear, it does have some symbolism.  The death occurred at night (a time of darkness), in a hidden place, and beneath something.  The chair is blue, symbolizing sadness, and the death is described peacefully.  These symbols though, don’t take away from the clarity of the poem.  This poem doesn’t require any explanation to make sense.

Now consider the following poem:

Starlight

Through the canyons,
with bounds and flight,
starlight faded,
during the night.

This poem is a mixture of clarity and obscurity.  In a literal sense, the poem seems to be talking about starlight.  It seems to describe it moving about and then fading.  Although the imagery and sound is a bit flowery, a literal meaning does come through.

On another level though, this poem is obscure.  How can starlight bound and fly?  How does it move through canyons?  Why would it fade during the night?  The poem, in some sense, doesn’t make sense.

Underneath, this poem is about the same subject as the first poem.  It is about the death of Rollie the cat.  Rollie, in the poem, is symbolized by starlight.  This symbolism shows the positive emotions toward Rollie.

When Rollie was alive, she was very active and in some sense light in her movements.  This is described in the first two lines.  Rollie died though.  Her death is described in the last two lines.

The imagery, symbolism, syllable count and rhyme increased the obscurity of this poem.  While a reader might understand that it is about something active and bright ending, they might not know the real meaning unless they were told.

If they were told, however, for example, if someone said that this poem was about Rollie the cat, the ideas and meaning become much clearer.  The poem does not have many levels to its symbolism.  Once a reader knows it is about Rollie, the starlight fading, takes on the proper meaning.  The reader does not have to be told Rollie died, to understand that she did.

Now consider this poem:

Flowers,
snowflakes,
and a summer breeze,
  the sand crystals shined,
  while the melody played.

What is this poem about?  From the meanings of the poems above, a reader might understand that it too is about the death of Rollie the cat, but taken alone, the meaning isn’t so clear.

The poem has no title, and it mentions nothing about death, cats or the idea of ending in any overt ways.

The poem is full of symbolism.  Rollie the cat is seen as something good, but something that only lasted for a short time.  In the poem, this concept is symbolized by the first three lines.  Flowers are nice, but fade quickly.  Snowflakes are nice, but hardly last in their flake form.  A summer breeze blows in and then is gone.  All of these things symbolize the temporariness of Rollie’s life.

The sand crystals is in reference to an hourglass.  An hourglass is made partially of glass and glass is made from silica and silica is in sand.  The shining part combined with the sand crystals, is saying that time shined.  This time shined, while the melody played.  The melody played, while Rollie was alive.

The underlying meaning of this poem is obscure.  By itself, the poem doesn’t let the reader know what it is about.  Even if someone said that the poem was about Rollie the cat, a reader might not understand it was about her death.  They might think it was just talking about the happiness of her life.

 

A question that a poet can encounter as they write poetry, is should their poetry be clear, a mixture of clarity and obscurity or obscure?  The examples above illustrate one of each type of poetry applied to the same subject.

Clear poetry has the advantage that it makes sense.  A reader should be able to easily understand what the poem is about.  The message comes through.

On the downside, clear poetry might lack the nuances, depth and subtly that obscurity can provide.  Also, it means the poet has to be overt with their subject.  Additionally, some may view it as simplistic.

Poetry that is a mixture of clarity and obscurity has the advantage that readers understand it, but it also has enough symbolism and metaphor that readers can understand more if they pause to think about the poem.  It can be a style of poetry, such that one brief explanation, causes the whole poem to make sense.  Also, this style gives the poet the advantage that they can write overtly where they want, but kept things more hidden where they choose.

As a downside, mixing clarity and obscurity can be hard.  If there is an imbalance, such that the poem is very clear with little moments of obscurity, the obscure moments can seem out of place and confusing.  Alternatively, if the poem is mainly obscure, with little moments of clarity, the clear moments can be swallowed in a sense by the obscure ones and seem part of the obscurity.  The reader might not know those moments were more literal.  With either imbalance, when a reader is told the main meaning of the poem, it might not match well with the poem.

Poetry that is obscure has the advantage that a poet can explore many areas of depth, symbolism and metaphor.  A poet can frame what they want to talk about in many ways.  Also, a poet can keep the underlying meaning of their poem hidden.

On the downside, obscure poetry can be hard for some to understand.  Some readers might not get it, even if they were given a brief explanation.  Also, some may view the obscurity as lack of skill.  They might think that the poet was obscure because they did not know how to express their ideas in a way that made sense.

When choosing between the styles, a poet should consider their intent and the situation.  Each style lends itself to a different goal.  A poet should consider the reader’s perspective and decide which style will help them achieve what they want.

Bilingual Poem: Train of life

Everyone else,
it seems,
stayed on the train,
but you got off,
not even knowing it,
and all the time later,
you wondered,
if you could,
ever catch up.

Todos los demás,
parece,
quedado en el tren,
pero usted ido del tren,
no hasta sabiendo lo,
y todo el tiempo más tarde,
usted preguntado,
si usted podido,
jamás alcanza uno.