Poetry topic idea: betrayal

Today’s poetry topic idea is betrayal.  Unlike some of the other poetry topic ideas that have been on this blog, betrayal is somewhat more typical as a subject for a poem.

The issue with betrayal is that in addition to whatever negative things that were done, there is the added element of who did them.  For example, it is one thing if your friend gets a job promotion you wanted.  It is another thing, if that friend lied to your boss about you to get it.  The first thing hurts in a physical sense – not getting a job promotion negatively impacts a person’s life in different ways.  The second thing though, hurts emotionally.  This is the added element of betrayal.

In writing poems about betrayal, a poet could explore different ideas.  For example, rather than writing the poem from the point of view of the betrayed, a poet could write it from the point of view of the betrayer.  They could even try different ideas where in one poem the betrayer was malicious, but in the second, the betrayer did what they did for some reason they thought was good, even though it hurt someone else.  For example, in the example above of the friend lying to get a promotion, maybe the person needed the better job to get more money so they could pay medical bills for a sick child.  They know what they did was wrong and that it hurt their friend, but they felt justified under the circumstances.

In another idea, a poet could write a poem where the betrayal was discovered by the betrayed (they knew what happened, who did it and why) and another poem where it wasn’t (they knew what happened, may have known who did it, but didn’t know why).  The poet could have both poems be about the same incident and have both together to highlight the differences.

There are different ways a poet could examine the idea of betrayal in a poem.