Artwork to inspire poetry: Hand

Hand

Above is an artwork of a hand.  It can inspire poetry.  Here is a poem inspired by it:

There’s an expression,
of knowing something,
like the palm of your hand.

But how many,
actually know,
what theirs looks like?

Despite,
having it there,
for all of your life,
how many know,
it’s appearance,
and would truly,
be able,
to tell it from others?

There’s a lesson here,
in observation,
in all things,
that many see,
but few take time,
to notice.

You may have heard,
after someone or something is gone,
someone say,
that they don’t remember.

They don’t remember,
the color of the person’s eyes,
or what the tree looked like,
or how the dog played.

Though they’ve seen these things,
innumerable times,
they did not stop,
and see.

There’s a lesson in this.

Observe the things,
you see every day,
the things you would miss,
if they were gone.

For despite knowing them,
like the palm of your hand,
you may only know them,
as well as that.

Poetry topic idea: breakfast

Today’s poetry topic idea is breakfast.  There are a number of ways breakfast could be used in poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • The idea of eating after a period of fasting. The word breakfast is two words together: break and fast.  It implies the idea of breaking a fast.  In the case of breakfast in the morning, this would be the fast of not eating during the night.  This idea of eating after fasting could be applied to other situations.  Additionally, the idea could be expanded to include doing any action after a period of not doing it.  This could be presented either positively or negatively.
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  • Breakfast foods. Breakfast foods can be familiar.  They might include things like: cereal, pancakes, waffles, ham, eggs, sausage, toast, coffee, tea, juice, or fruit.  There is a familiarity in the items and a sense that they might be consider “breakfast foods”.  A poet could approach this in a number of ways.
     
    A poet could write about the foods literally.  They could write about making breakfast, eating breakfast, or going out for breakfast.

    A poet could also look at the idea of categorization and apply it more broadly.  In the same way that certain foods are categorized as breakfast foods, a poet could look at other things that are categorized.  They could examine the categorizations and their implications.

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  • Breakfast foods can come with familiar scents.  Pancakes have a certain scent.  Ham has a certain scent.  A poet could examine the idea of scents, the ideas they bring, and how people perceive them.
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  • Breakfast foods are traditionally eaten in the morning.  Sometimes though, people eat them at other times.  People might have cereal for snack, or an omelet for dinner for example.  A poet could examine this idea as it relates to nonconformity.  They could look at why a person does not conform and how that is perceived by others.  A poet could apply the idea to breakfast foods or they could look at it more broadly and apply it to other situations.

Poetry essay: Rhyming in poetry

The first poetry you may have encountered as a child might have been rhyming poetry.  Something like:

Look at the dog play,
he runs and romps all day,
he turns in every way,
oh look at the dog play.

Poetry like this can be approachable, sound simple, “sound like poetry”, and the regular sound of the rhyme makes it easy to say.  Because of this, this type of poetry can be used to introduce poetry to children.

You may have also read poetry from the previous time periods like those of the 19th century.  Some of these poems have rhyme, but the subjects, form, and style can be more complex than what is above.

In incorporating rhyme into your own poetry there are a number of things to consider.

Rhyming pattern

One of the first things to consider is what pattern the rhyme will take.  One familiar pattern might be ABCB, where every even line rhymes.  There are also other simple patterns like ABBA and ABCA.

Although a rhyming pattern can be simple, it can also be complex.  A poet could have a pattern that works across stanzas and has a number of rhyming components to it.  The more complex the pattern though, the less noticeable the rhymes might be.  If the pattern was complex enough, and the poem long enough, a reader might not even notice there was a pattern.

Poetry tone

Rhyme imparts a tone to poetry.  Sometimes it can sound simplistic.  It can also sound melodic.  It could even be humorous.  These characteristics work well with poems where the subject fits that.

In a more serious poem though, rhyme might seem inappropriate.  A poem about poverty might not sound right with a rhyming pattern.  It could work though if the poem was meant to sound satirical or if the rhyme was meant to impart a song like quality to idea.

The idea here is that rhyme changes the tone of a poem, and a poet should consider that when considering it for a poem.

Mixing with other elements

Rhyme can be mixed with other elements.  One choice that can work well is meter.  A regular beat with rhyme in a discernible pattern can add a predictable quality to the sound of a poem, and make it easy for a person to read, recite, and remember.

Rhyme can also be mixed with other elements as well.  Some examples include an acrostic poem with rhyme, a stanza structure with rhyme, and word count with rhyme.

The difficulty with rhyming

Rhyming can sometimes be easy.  Think of a word like “gold”.  There are a number of words that rhyme with it.  Some include: bold, cold, fold, hold, mold, old, polled, rolled, sold, and told.

Other words though can be difficult to find rhymes for.  For example, what rhymes with “mountain”?  One word is “fountain”.  Other words though might be harder to find.

A poet should keep this in mind for two reasons.

First, if a poet uses a word in a rhyming position that is hard to rhyme with, this can make the poem more difficult for the poet to write.  This can especially be the case, if the poet is going to have multiple words rhyme with the base word.

Second, the words that rhyme with a word can influence the meaning of a poem.  Using the example of the word “mountain”, if a poet had this word in a rhyming position in their poem, it would affect the poem.  If the poet had to use “fountain” as the rhyme for the word, this would influence the meaning of their poem.  Since a poet would have to make the two words work together, it would change what they write.

Where are the rhymes?

Although it might be common to have rhymes at the end of lines, as has been seen in experimental poetry forms on this blog, they don’t have to be there.  There are a number of alternatives.  For example, the first word of each line might rhyme.  Or, there could be rhyming words on offset lines.  There could also be rhymes within lines.  There are number of things a poet could experiment with.

Poem with an explanation: the same five things

Sitting there,
staring at the list,
the same five things,
the same five things.

Moons,
suns,
sand,
and other things profound,
the same five things,
the same five things.

Looking in the mirror,
not understanding why,
running through the logic,
not making any sense.

Simplicity,
complexity,
a path,
a mountain.

Standing,
at the starting line,
for the whole race,
so far.

The same five things,
the same five things.

 

This poem is about a person and their goals.  The person in the poem has had the same five goals for years.  They haven’t made any progress on them.

In the first stanza, the person looks at a list of their goals.  They stare at it and realize that the list contains the same five goals it has always had.  This hits the person.

In the second stanza, the person contemplates the time that has passed.  They start to think about it and then their mind wanders off into profound thoughts about their life and time.  They come back though and realize they haven’t made any progress on their goals.

In the third stanza, they take stock of themselves and they can’t understand why they haven’t achieved anything.  They try to think through completing their goals logically, but the fact that they haven’t, doesn’t make sense to them.

In the fourth stanza, the person thinks that completing their goals should be simple.  They think of it as a matter of cause and effect.  This is countered with the reality of the complexity they have faced when trying to complete their goals.  They were expecting to walk a path, but instead they feel like they have been trying to climb a mountain.

In the fifth stanza, the person feels like they haven’t achieved anything at all.

In the sixth stanza, the person is left thinking about the same five goals.

Experimental Poetry Form: four fours

This experimental poetry form is called four fours.

In the form, there are four stanzas.  Each stanza has four lines.  Each line has four words.  Each word has four letters.  The form looks as follows, with *’s representing letters.

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