Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stop resisting

When I first started writing, I attended a workshop by poet, Richard Newman, publisher of River Styx. It was the first time I realized there was a market for free verse. Even though I'd only written rhyming verse in birthday cards for fun, I couldn't wait to get home and write a free verse poem.
Then I attended a presentation by two women poets who wrote and read with emphasis and made it seem effortless. If only I could do that. Well, I certainly intended to try.

A few years ago my poem won a Metro Arts in Transit conte$t: Poetry In Motion. It was posted on local Bi-State buses and/or Metro Link trains for one year. That was some honor.
Take a look at these run on lines and see if you can find the line breaks which will result in an eight line poem. Now, try to punctuate it the way you think I did.

Sunbeams bounce off crystal vase splay rainbows around the room I dance and sway with outstretched arms and shed a tear of glee. Single rose with sun-tinged blush passion-red it glimmers ablaze with innuendo radiant in love I waltz with yesterday's memory.
Punctuation, as you know can change entire meanings and is sometimes one of the keys to publication.

A writer reviewed another one of my poems and almost destroyed my self esteem with this remark: "Poem is good but an archaic theme. Nobody will take this."
Did I show her! I sent it right out and received an acceptance the same day. Writing for lit mags requires a combination of some, or all of the following: strong verbs, innuendo, images, metaphor, and wordplay. Here's an example of one I published.

Her knight in dingy armor loaded his gun,
shot off his mouth...
The poem is not about suicide, but verbal abuse.)

Another winning poem opens with strong imagery. An excerpt: 
I stuff the clothes in the washing machine,
dump soap on top of this week's crud, 
cram two quarters in the coin slot,
shove it hard. Scalding water spills.
(could be metaphor for tears)

Now, if you are still here,  let me show you how I set up and punctuated my Metro poem.

                  In Bloom
Sunbeams bounce of crystal vase,
splay rainbows; around the room
I dance and sway with outstretched arms
and shed a tear of glee.

Single rose with sun-tinged blush,
passion red it glimmers, ablaze with innuendo;
radiant in love, I waltz with yesterday's memory.

Those two semi colons make all the difference. Had I omitted them, I would have been referring to the rainbows and rose. Instead, I am referring to myself.
Are you ready to give poetry a try? The more you tinker, the more fun you'll have. Stop resisting and give it a whirl, won't you?



Tammy said...

Great advice and great poems! I used to write poetry way back when my life was more free verse. Thanks for the reminder that it's only a matter of changing a way of thinking.

noexcuses said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for the great reminders...especially in dealing with criticism. You did show her! I also wrote some poetry way back in the day. Maybe I will stop resisting...with all of my writing. Thank you, Linda, for your inspiration and support!

Sioux said...

Linda--You are a truly gifted writer. You write creative nonfiction and poetry and even fiction at times.

Bookie said...

I fight being too traditional in my poems...line length and punctuation both. Been working on a few lines here...about rain, what else! Ha-ha.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

lots of food for thought,
think I will stick with sarcasm.

I tired, I failed.

Val said...

Sometimes I dabble. I am a mimic at best, and a borderline plagiarist at worst.

K9friend said...

Very nice poem, Linda. Seems very spring-like to me.

Critter Alley

Donna Volkenannt said...

Nice poems, Linda. Poetry is not my thing, but I enjoy reading a good one.