Poetry essay: Imparting emotion to poetry

In writing poetry, there may be times when a poet wants to impart emotion to their words.

It could be, that the topic they are writing about is personal to themselves.  Maybe they or someone they are close to has experienced something that they are trying to express.  This topic might be one the poet feels connected to and strongly about and they want to express that emotion in their writing.

Alternatively, a poet could be writing about something that they don’t have a connection to.  A poet, for example, might be writing about a social issue.  They may have no direct connection to the topic themselves, but they still want to impart emotion for the reader.

As another alternative, a poet may be writing a fictional poem or one with fictional elements.  In the poem, a character might be experiencing an emotion.  This might have nothing to do with the poet personally and may not be connected to a societal issue.  It might just be an emotion the character is experiencing in their own circumstances.  As the poet writes, they might work to have this emotion come through for the reader.

There are a number of ways that a poet can have emotion come through in their writing.


One way a poet can increase the emotion of their writing is to include details.  When a poet includes details regarding a situation, it can add authenticity and help relay the experience.

For example, if a poet was writing about cancer treatment, they could increase the emotion of the poem if they wrote about things like a chemotherapy pump or having a chest port.  Having these details, and expressing what they are like, can add inherit emotion to a poem.

Play acting

If a poet is writing a poem that could be read as dialogue, one way to increase the emotion is to play act the part.  For example, if a poet were writing what it was like for someone to explain how their spouse died, and how they are a widow or widower, they might try to act it out.  They might try to actually say the part and act as if they were explaining to someone how their spouse died.  They could try to feel the emotion of their words and say them in a realistic way.  They could then write what they said.  This would help impart emotion to their writing.

Actually feeling the emotion

If a poet is actually experiencing an emotion, this can help them when writing about it.  If a poet is actually feeling joy, for example, then this can help them express joy in their writing.  They can write what joyfulness is like, because they are joyful.

Fewer words and setting apart impact lines

One way to have more emotion in a poem is to have fewer words and to have lines of impact set apart.  Sometimes brief is best when describing an emotion.  Sometimes the less that is written, the better.  In these instances, if the emotional impact is set apart, this can increase the emotion by having a pause and by letting the emotional aspect stand alone.

Careful word choice and order

In line with the idea of fewer words and using impact lines, a poet should also focus on careful word choice and the order of their words when they are trying to impart emotion.  Because of the experiential nature of emotions, the exact words used and the order of them can have an effect on the experience.  Think of experiences that are contained moments.  An example might be a man proposing to a woman, or a man and a woman telling one of their sets of parents that they are having a baby.  Because of the significance of these moments and the fact that they happen at a specific time and place, the way the words are said can be very important.  In a sense, there is only one chance to have the moment.  This can make word choice and order very important.  The same idea, in a sense, applies to emotional poetry.

Overt metaphor and symbolism

Another way to impart emotion through poetry is through the use of metaphor and symbolism.  Rather than having obscure ideas, to impart emotions the uses should be overt.  A reader should be able to understand what the metaphor is referring to and what the symbolism represents.  The idea is for the reader to realize they are reading metaphor and symbolism and to have that realization impart increased effect to the emotion imparted.

An example might be a poem where someone dies as a flower loses its petals.  The waning of the person’s life is overtly represented by the flower losing its petals.  This helps the idea of the flower to impart increased emotion to the idea of the person’s death.


Poem Series: Experimental Poetry Forms: Brewed Tea: Feeling

On the way to the vet,
she trembled and shook,
with each breath the dog took.

Her hands shivered,
as the small Roly-Poly,
curled up slowly.

A fog of condolence,
shadowed the candle of reprieve,
but a firefly did believe.

(12/40) Experimental Poetry Form: Brewed Tea


P.S. Today on MSakran.com, there is a new set of photography, artwork, poetry and fiction.