Post Series: Advent: A photograph to inspire poetry: Rose hip

This is the last post of the Advent Post Series.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the next day is Christmas.  There will not be a new post on either of those days.  The next new post will be on Thursday December 26, 2019.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

In this post series there have been five poems, five poetry topic ideas, five poems with explanations, four artworks to inspire poetry, three bilingual poems, one experimental poetry form, and one poetry essay.

As there has not been a photograph to inspire poetry, that is the subject of today’s post.

Rose hip

The photograph above is of a rose hip.  It can be tied to Advent in the sense that it isn’t what is normally noticed about a rose plant.

When people look at a rose plant, they will typically look at the flowers.  It is the important part of the plant visually.  It is what people think of when they think of roses.

The rose hip though is important because it carries the seeds of the plant.  It is actually more important in some sense than the flowers themselves.

When Jesus was born on Christmas Day, he wasn’t necessarily seen as important by those in the world.  Some people (the magi and the shepherds) took notice of him, but others did not at least in a positive way.  In some sense, the world overlooked him.  Part of this notion is in the idea that Mary and Joseph could not find a place to stay.

Although Jesus was overlooked, he is obviously very important.  He was more important than the more visually important looking people (like the rich and noble) in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.

This notion, of overlooking what is important can be used in poetry.  It can be applied to many different things.

Here is an example poem using the idea:

the girl was ill
and her father sent
the small boy
to the woods

“collect the leaves
of the small round bush
and bring them back
to make her well”

the boy walked out
into the woods
and found the bush
of which is father spoke

upon the plant
the leaves were dull
a muted green
the blended away

the berries though
were bright and shined
they glistened in the sun
and seemed to call out

the boy did think
his father had been wrong
a mistake was made
maybe in his worry

the boy with a smile
filled his bag
with berries that shined
in the sun

he brought them back
so filled with joy
thinking he had
understood more

he poured the berries
into the bowl
and held them out
for his father to see

“what are these
that you brought here
it was the leaves
you were to get”

“the leaves were dull
the berries did shine
you were surely wrong
these can heal”

“no poor son
though the berries
shine in the sun
they do not heal

the leaves though dull
have what’s inside
to heal your sister
from what ails

go back son
and hurry now
collect the leaves
before time runs short”

the boy ran back
into the woods
and found the plant
with the dull leaves

he picked them off
and filled his bag
and brought them back
to his small house

with tears in his eyes
his father spoke
“it’s too late son
your sister’s gone”

the son fell down
upon the ground
as the leaves did fall
onto the dirt

he grabbed the berries
and threw them out
and ran away
into the woods

before the plant
his tears did fall
and he wished he had
believed the truth

Poetry essay: Poetry – write what you want

If you start reading poetry, you may notice a certain style in some poetry you read.  For example, you may read poetry in literary magazines, in published books, from famous poets, poetry that has critical acclaim, or poetry that has won awards.

As you look at this poetry, you may notice that the style might differ from your own.  You may be wondering if, given the fact that this poetry is in magazines, books, seems important, and so forth, if your poetry should be like what you read.  You may wonder if you should change your style to match what seems like “important” poetry.

The short answer to this is no.  You shouldn’t change your poetry to match a perceived style.  You should write what you want.  Still, there is more to it.

First, this idea of some disconnected group deciding something, is familiar in society.

Think about fashion.  Who decides fashion and what is fashionable?  Who decides what people should wear or shouldn’t?

As another example, think about movies.  Some movies get talked about in the media, win awards, and have critics talking about them.  Does this mean they are good?  Does it mean you should watch them?

There is sometimes this notion in society of “people who know” deciding what is good.  There’s nothing really wrong with the idea taking in the views of people involved in an industry or activity, but you shouldn’t let it influence you too much.

When it comes to fashion, movies, poetry, or anything else, you should do what makes you happy, even if it differs from what you perceive to be the way things “should” be.  You shouldn’t change your poetry just because you think others think poetry should be a certain way.

Second, poetry is meant for you and your audience.  There is no one out there judging your poetry (unless, of course, you send it in for a contest or something).  While you may sometimes feel that your poetry isn’t serious or important or literary or something else, don’t feel like there is someone out there looking down on your work.  There isn’t.  Of course, not everyone will like what you write, but it’s not like there’s some poetry establishment shaking their heads at your work.

When you write poetry it should appeal to you and the audience for your work.  You shouldn’t write it to appeal to some idea or some perception.

Third, don’t get into feeling that there is some intellectual standard for poetry.  Don’t think, for example, that a free verse, obscure poem about war is somehow more important than your rhyming sonnet about puppies.  While some may view your poem as less serious, there is no objective measure of importance.  Your poem that makes people smile, can be just as important as a poem that makes people think.

Fourth, when you write poetry, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it.  Don’t let that bother you though.  No poetry is liked by everyone.  If you and your audience like what you write, that’s what’s important.

Generally, when you write poetry, write what you want.  If you like inspirational poetry, silly poetry, poetry about unicorns, rhyming poetry, sonnets, poems about dating, sad poetry, or whatever, go ahead and write it.  Don’t worry that you work doesn’t match some outside perspective that you perceive.

Now, there are some times though, when you might want your poetry to conform to an outside perception.  While this might seem bad, given the ideas above, it isn’t necessarily.

First, if you send poetry submissions to publications, you will probably have to meet some sort of guidelines.  These could be things like the length of the poems, the number of poems you send, the topics of the poems, and so forth.  If you want your poems to be considered by publications, you’ll have to meet the guidelines they set.

Second, different publishers of poetry have different poetry styles.  Although they might say they accept all types of work, if you read over some of what they publish, you should start to see trends.  Editors can be consistent in what they like and what they don’t even if they don’t realize it.

If you want to get published in these publications, it could help if you poetry matched the style they published.  If they publish short, free verse poems, about social issues, then your long, rhyming, iambic pentameter poem about the death of your cat, might not get accepted.

If getting published in certain publications is important to you, you might find that you have to match their style, even if it is different from your own, if you want the possibility of being published.

Third, you might have an audience for your poetry.  This could range from your best friend, to a poetry group you are part of, to readers of your blog, to readers of a book you publish.  In each of the cases, you want your audience to like your work.  Part of this can be giving your audience what they like.

It can be hard sometimes when you write poetry and you feel it doesn’t meet the standard of “important” or “real” poetry.  Don’t let that bother you.  Write what you like.  Write what makes you happy.  Write what your audience wants.  Write what you want to express.

At times, you might have to conform your poetry for specific reasons, but don’t let that overwhelm your work.  Write what you want.

Poem with an explanation: a whole new meaning

Words you can’t pronounce
take on a whole new meaning
when they’re inside of you
or someone you know.

 

This poem is about cancer.  Cancer is filled with all sorts of terms.  There are disease names, medicine names, names for things in blood tests, and more.  The terms are often about complex ideas and they can be hard to pronounce.

If a person doesn’t have cancer, or isn’t close to someone who has it, these terms don’t have much meaning.  A person not close to cancer might hear them in an ad for a medicine for example, and they don’t know what the terms mean and don’t pay much attention to them.

The experience though is different for a person with the disease or for someone close to them.  These obscure terms all of a sudden have a meaning and significance.  A measure of something in the blood or a medicine name have a whole new meaning when they’re personal.

The idea of this poem is to point out the idea of perspective; the idea that importance depends on situation.  This idea comes up at many instances in life.  How many times, for example, have you heard a news story about something unrelated to you?  What happened?  You may have forgotten about it right after you heard it.  If though, the story was personal to you, you may have listened intently and even acted on what you heard.  There is a difference based on situation.

This notion applies to so many things.  Debt, prison, disease, natural disasters, and a multitude of negative things, take on a whole new perspective when they are personal.  All of a sudden information about them matters.

This is an important idea for people.  Realizing it can help promote empathy.  Once you realize that something obscure to you can be important to someone else, you can better put yourself in their situation and can better understand how they feel.

Poetry topic idea: importance

Today’s poetry topic idea is importance.  A poet could write about:

  • The disconnect between what a person says is important to them and what their actions show to be important to them.
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  • The idea of how importance is determined and how importance is ranked.
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  • The perception of importance.
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  • The disconnect between what is seen as having importance and what actually has importance.