Poetry essay: The experiences of a poet aren’t seen

Yesterday’s essay was about what goes into a poem that isn’t seen by readers.  It focused on the work of writing and changes to a poem that happen before it’s finished.

This essay focuses on something else that goes into a poem that isn’t necessarily seen by readers – the personal experiences of a poet.

Sometimes poets write poetry that express ideas and emotions and are about situations to which they aren’t connected.  For example, a poet might write a poem about having a heart attack, even though neither they nor anyone they know has had one.

This idea isn’t bad.  A lot of knowledge of experiences can be gained without direct experience.  A poet can successfully express things even if they haven’t been through them.  Also, the emotion and ideas a poet gets across aren’t somehow less just because the poet hasn’t been through something.

In other cases though, a poet has gone through something before they write a poem.  Maybe the poet had a heart attack.  Maybe the poet went through something else.

Sometimes readers can tell that a poet has personal knowledge of something.  The poet might include details and ideas that someone who hasn’t been through something might not know nor understand.  This can come across to readers, especially if the reader has been through the thing the poet is writing about.

In other situations, a poet may directly tell readers about their experience in addition to the poetry they write.  For example, a poet may let readers know they had a heart attack before the readers read their poems about them.

In other situations though, readers might not know what a poet has gone through.  Sometimes a poet doesn’t tell readers, and sometimes readers can’t tell when they read a poem.

These types of situations can affect both the poet and the reader.

From the poet’s perspective, it can feel somewhat unfulfilling to have their work seen as just another work, when to them it is very personal.  Imagine a poet went through a traumatic experience.  It might feel bad to them to have people read their poetry about it as if the poet had no connection to what they were writing about.  It might make them feel bad to think that readers might view their work as if it was written with an outside perspective of something.  There is something about going through an experience that makes expressing ideas about it personal.

From the reader’s perspective, a reader might not fully appreciate a poem if they don’t understand the poet’s circumstances.  A poem about homelessness, for example, would be read differently if a reader didn’t know the poet had been homeless, than if they knew they had been.  In these situations, a reader might not get the depth of emotion the poet is trying to express.

For poets writing about something they personally have been through, there are some steps they can take to improve the situation.

First, as mentioned above, a poet can tell readers about their situation.  This telling can take various forms.  It might be many pages of explanations or just a short note before a poem.

This can be a good way to explain things in some situations.  Sometimes what a person has gone through is so significant that readers should overtly know about it before reading the poet’s work.

Second, a poet can try to include details and emotions in their work.  They can focus on those things that only someone connected to an experience might know.  They can write about what particular moments were like and what particular experiences felt like.

If a poet does this well, readers should be able to understand that the poet is at the very least knowledgeable about what they are writing about, as well as potentially connected to it.

For poets, having readers understand the connection to your work can be important.  It can be important for both the poet and for the reader.  If a poet can in some way get this connection across, both will be better for it.

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Poetry essay: What goes into a poem isn’t seen

When a poet presents a finished poem, in many cases the poem wasn’t written that way.  As the poet worked on the poem, changes were made.  Lines were changed.  Words were changed.  Form elements were modified.  The poem took shape as the poet worked on it.  How it looked at different stages, might have been quite different than how it looked when finished.

This idea raises some issues for poets as they present their work.

First, a poet should understand that those who read their poetry might not perceive the amount of work that went into it.

When a person reads a wonderful sounding stanza of poetry for example, they don’t know if it was just written that way, or if it went through multiple variations.  This is something a poet should keep in mind when they present their work.

A poet wants their poetry to be appreciated, but they should understand that many readers won’t appreciate the work that goes into it, because they don’t understand the work that goes into it.

Second, sometimes a poet can remember what a poem was like at different stages.  A poet knows what words they changed, what lines were removed, and so forth.  This can sometimes influence the poet’s perception of their own work.  The poet knows what it was, and so they see how it is, differently.

Third, in addition to a poet perceiving their work differently from a reader, a poet might actually remember parts of poem that are no longer there, and understand those parts as part of the work.

For example, if a poet had a poem where a flower dies, and when working on the poem they at first explicitly state this, but then later they remove the statement, the poet might remember this line and understand the poem differently than a reader might.  A reader, not reading the line, might, for example, think the flower only wilted.

Fourth, as a poem develops it might improve.  The first rendition of it might not be as good as the last.  When a poet presents their work, they are presenting a refined product, and not a raw one.

This can have an effect on how people perceive the poet’s poetry.  People might think the poet comes up with the work simply as it is presented.  They might not understand that there were preceding drafts.

This idea can sometimes create a sense of disillusionment for readers if they ever watch a poet create a poem.  They may have thought that the work was created effortlessly and be disappointed when they find out it isn’t.  It would almost be like a person watching a great artist draw and the person seeing the artist erase.  They may have never considered that the artist made changes or mistakes.

 

When a poet creates a poem, work goes into it that isn’t normally seen.  A poet should be aware of this idea and how it impacts the perception of their work.

As an interesting exercise, a poet might record their work on a poem, for example be using a computer program that records what is on their screen.  It might interesting for a poet to present the development of a poem, in addition to its final form.  This would give readers a better insight into the poet’s work.

P. S. If you like M. Sakran’s blog, please consider following it.  There is a button in the sidebar you can click to do so.

Poetry essay: Understanding poetry better

Sometimes poetry can be hard to understand.  You can read through a poem, and have no idea what it means.  What can you do about this?  How can you better understand poetry?  Here are some steps you can take:

Read it again

For a specific poem you are having trouble understanding, try reading it again.  Read it more than twice.  Read it five or six times.  Try reading it line by line while pausing to think about what each line means.  You might try writing out the meaning as you go and then reading over that when you are done.

Write poetry

One way to better understand poetry you read, is by writing poetry.  By working with words, metaphors, symbols, rhymes, and so forth, you can gain a better understanding of them.  This understanding can help you when you read poems that are difficult to understand.  If you are looking for poetry topic ideas, check out the category on this blog.  There are dozens of poetry ideas that you can use as prompts for writing poetry.

Read explained poems

One way to better understand poetry in general, is to read what different poems mean.  By reading interpretations of poems, you can get better at interpreting them yourself.  You can read poems with explanations on this blog and you can find them in Understanding: poems with explanations.

Discuss poetry

If you talk through poems that you are having trouble understanding with others, it can help you to figure out what the poems mean.  The people you talk to might see things you don’t or understand symbols that you missed.  By going through the discussion you can learn from other perspectives.  You can also learn by explaining what you know about poems that you read.

Read more poems

One way to better understand poetry is to read more poems.  The more poems you read, the more times you see things.  You will see particular metaphors, symbols, ideas, forms, words, and so forth more.  By encountering more poems you can come into contact with more poetry elements.  This can help you when you try to understand difficult poems.  You can find a number of poems on this blog.

Listen to poems

Tone of voice matters.  How words are spoken matters.  Sometimes a poem can sound obscure until you hear the author read it.  When you hear the author read a poem, by listening to their style, pauses, inflection, and so forth, the poem can gain new meaning.  You can get better insight into what the poet is trying to say.  Look for opportunities to listen to poetry.  You might go to readings, find videos online, or listen to audio books.

Bilingual Poem: clarity

Today is number four.

Yesterday isn’t here.
Yesterday is here.

To know what to do,
is easy.

To know what to do,
is difficult.

In time,
the question.

In time,
with hope,
it is clear.

 

Hoy es número cuatro.

Ayer no está aquí.
Ayer está aquí.

Saber qué hacer,
es fácil.

Saber qué hacer,
es difícil.

En tiempo,
la pregunta.

En tiempo,
con esperanza,
lo es claro.

Understanding: poems with explanations: Have you written an eBook?

As you should know, M. Sakran has a self-published eBook available for purchase.  It is called Understanding: poems with explanations.  You can learn more about it, from the page on this blog: Understanding: poems with explanations.

M. Sakran was wondering, if any readers had self-published eBooks of poetry? If you’re reading this, and you do, then M. Sakran would like to hear about it.

Use the box below to tell M. Sakran all about your book.  Say whatever you like about it.  Who knows, M. Sakran might be intrigued by what you write, could check out the book, and might purchase a copy.  It could happen!  Here’s your opportunity.  Happy writing.

Announcement: Understanding: poems with explanations self-publication

M. Sakran is happy to announce that Understanding: poems with explanations has been self-published and is now available for purchase as an eBook! Buy your copy today!

Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran

Understanding: poems with explanations

By M. Sakran

Copyright 2016 M. Sakran

 

Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran, is a self-published collection of twenty original poems, with explanations of each of them.  The main purpose of this book is to help readers expand their understanding of poetry through the explanations.

The poems in the book cover a variety of topics such as poverty, homelessness, pain, neglect, crime and illness.

The explanations look at the overall meanings of the poems, the meanings of individual parts of the poems, and form in the poems.

Understanding: poems with explanations is currently available for purchase here: Understanding: poems with explanations.  It is currently available for $0.99.  The available price of $0.99 is not expected to change for the foreseeable future.

The foreword to Understanding: poems with explanations was written by Freya Pickard.  Freya was gracious enough to take the time to write the foreword and is much appreciated.

Freya has two blogs: Pure Haiku and Dragonscale Clippings.  If you are looking to read and submit traditional haiku, then check out Pure Haiku.  If you would like to read and find information about a variety of Freya’s writings and other things, then check out Dragonscale Clippings.

Freya also has three books available: The Rusalka Rítual & Other Stories, The Essence of Thyme, and Dragonscale Leggings.

Buy Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran today!

(As a small note, unfortunately there have been some formatting issues with M. Sakran’s second book.  Hopefully these issues should not greatly affect the reading experience a reader has, depending on the device used to read the book.  M. Sakran is making efforts to have these issues resolved.  If any purchasers of the book experience any formatting issues, please let M. Sakran know by using the form on the contact page of this blog.  Thank you.)

Understanding: poems with explanations: Pre-order a copy

Do you enjoy M. Sakran’s blog of and about poetry and poetry related things?

Do you like the poems with explanations you’ve read on the blog?

Do you like the idea of supporting a writer whose work you enjoy?

If so, then please consider pre-ordering a copy of Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran.  It is available as an eBook for an available price of $0.99.  Pre-order a copy today.

Understanding: poems with explanations: Who might enjoy this book?

M. Sakran’s new book, Understanding: poems with explanations, is currently available for pre-order as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. A question is, who might enjoy this book?

Well, first, hopefully a wide variety of people, but more specifically:

  • People who like to read poetry, but find that they have trouble sometimes understanding what poems mean.
  • People who like to write poetry, but find that they sometimes have trouble expressing certain ideas in certain ways.
  • People who feel like they don’t like poetry, because they “just don’t get it”.
  • People who like poetry, but have been wanting to read poems that are explained by the author to know what the poems really mean.

Understanding: poems with explanations, goes through twenty poems in a detailed way.  The explanations look at the overall meanings of the poems, the meanings of individual parts of the poems, and form in the poems.

By reading this book, in addition to learning what these poems mean, hopefully a person can learn more about understanding poetry.  This could help a person when they read poetry and when they write it.

This book could also provide some assistance to those who feel they “just don’t get poetry”.  By reading these twenty poems and their explanations, hopefully a little of the mystery will be gone.

Lastly, if you’ve ever read a book a poetry and wished that you could know what the author meant, well, this books does that for twenty poems.

Hopefully a wide variety of people will enjoy this new book.  Pre-order your copy today!

Understanding: poems with explanations: the cover

Here is the cover to M. Sakran’s new book (currently available for pre-order), Understanding: poems with explanations:

Understanding: poems with explanations by M. Sakran

Understanding: poems with explanations is a soon to be self-published collection of twenty original poems with explanations of each of them.

Readers may be wondering about the cover – Where did it come from?  Why was it chosen?  Does it have any meaning?  And so forth.

The poems in the book, Understanding: poems with explanations, are obviously explained in the book.  The cover, however, is not.  Here, therefore, is some explanation of the cover.

When trying to decide the cover for a book (a notably important decision), there are a lot of different options.  A person could pay for one or do it themselves.  A person could go the route of artwork or photography or just text or some combination.  There are decisions about colors and fonts and spacing and so forth.  It can be a lot.

The cover for this book is a computer altered photograph.  Generally, the computer alteration, made the colors brighter and fuller.  On top of that, text was added.

The photograph for the cover is of part of a citrus tree.  Although the fruits may look like limes, they are actually unripe oranges.

Originally, the idea for the cover was to take an up close photograph of an insect or a flower and computer alter it.  There have been examples of this type of photography (not computer altered) on the blog and on MSakran.com and they generally look nice.

It was proving difficult though to find something acceptable for the cover.  The cover would be a lasting thing and needed to be something special and fit in some way.  In the process of searching for an appropriate photograph, a lot of time was spent around a certain citrus tree.  This lead to the idea of, why not photograph the tree?

Many photographs of the tree were taken and the one selected seemed the best.  It had a combination of multiple fruits and full leaves.  After the improved effect of the computer alteration, it seemed to be the right choice.  It was bright, full, and stood out.

White text was chosen (in M. Sakran’s preferred font) to provide contrast.

In a certain way, the cover was arrived at simply.  It was a nice computer altered photograph.  In examining it after the fact though, there is a lot behind it.

Readers of the blog will know that citrus has been a recurring feature on the blog.  There are quite a few posts that reference citrus and there was even a citrus series on the blog.  The main reason for this is that M. Sakran currently has access to five citrus trees (one of which is very large).  Often these trees have interesting things on them and they make for good photographs and artwork subjects.  Additionally, citrus trees and things about them can lend themselves to certain poetic ideas.

Although trying to reflect something from the blog was not at the forefront of the decision to use this cover, it does turn out that it helps tie the book and blog together.

As defined by M. Sakran, because of the computer alteration, this cover is artwork.  Despite that though, many make look at it as a photograph and ask, “Why wasn’t a less photography based artwork (like charcoal or colored pencil or a water color artwork) used for the cover?”  Some may feel that a different type of artwork cover might fit a book with poetry better.  There were actually a few reasons for this.

One was the idea of standing out.  There was the thought to have a cover that would be different from other books that contain poetry.  Hopefully this bright green cover achieved that.

Another point, was the fact, that artwork sometimes has a hit or miss quality.  Some people really like an artwork, whereas others may not get it.  A photograph of a plant somewhat avoids this problem.  Not everyone will like a photograph of a citrus tree, but it shouldn’t confuse anyone.

Another idea, and one that M. Sakran is hesitant to admit, is that sometimes M. Sakran’s artworks can be hit or miss.  Not every artwork M. Sakran has created has come out amazingly (although quite a few on the blog and website, have been, in M. Sakran’s opinion, very nice).  Sometimes, some people, may not like them.  To help avoid this problem, an artistically altered photograph was used instead of artwork of another medium.

Some may wonder why a self-made cover was used as opposed to a paid for one.  The considerations for this were generally practical.  A good cover can cost quite a bit of money.  It was just not something M. Sakran could spend.  Also, there was the idea of copyright issues.  Although this can be discussed when a cover is purchased, these issues can generally be avoided when the cover is self-made.  Another practical issue was the idea of communication.  Seeing a cover in your head is one thing.  Communicating that to another person is another.  This was avoided with a self-made cover.

Some good questions to ask about the cover are, “How does the cover relate to the overall idea of the book?”  “How does the cover relate to the title of the book?”  “Does the cover relate to any specific parts of the book?”

In looking for a good subject for the cover, there was the idea of having it relate, somehow, to the idea of understanding.  That is part of the title and idea of the book and seemed something important to reflect.  The idea of understanding though, is a broad one, and it basically manifested itself as a search for something that seemed significant in some way (like an up close photograph of an insect might).  Upon reflection, it can be seen that this cover does reflect the idea of the book well.

The book is about explaining something (poetry) that might at first pass be somewhat mystifying.  This cover in some ways reflects that idea.

First, as mentioned, these fruits are oranges.  In the cover though, they don’t look like ripe oranges.  They either look like limes or like unripe citrus fruits (which they are).  This idea is a lot like the book.  At first pass, a poem in the book might seem to be about a certain thing or reflect a certain emotion.  The reality (as explained in the poem’s explanation) can be different though.

In another sense, this cover depicts something that is unripe.  This “unripe-ness” can be seen to parallel the idea of the book.  These fruit aren’t “finished” in some way.  The poems in the book, aren’t in some sense finished, until they are explained.

These fruit have a mystery.  What are they?  What are they going to be?  This mystery reflects the mystery of what the poems in the book really mean before they are explained.

In another sense, these fruits have something inside.  There is the outer peal that gives the appearance, but there is something hidden within.  This idea is a lot like the poems in the book.  The poems have a certain feel and ideas when read, but in addition to that, there is a meaning in them that is revealed in the explanations.

As a note, the cover to the book is not reflected in any particular poem in the book (and vice versa).  The idea was to have the cover give a universal representation of what was inside.

Hopefully readers of this blog, and future readers of the book, like this cover.  There was some thought to it, and hopefully, after reading this explanation of it, it will be even more appreciated.  If you would like to let M. Sakran know what you think of the cover, use the form on the contact page.