I remember I was in a workshop, many years ago, and our poet/teacher asked us to write a poem. One of my fellow students raised her hand and asked, “What do you want us to write about?” There was a momentary pause and then, the following response, “Write what you feel.” Over the years, I have added to that the extension – “Feel what you write.”
Poetry is not about informing us or educating us, it’s about connecting, one to the other, in ways that we can understand, ways we can relate to, ways that unite us in our humanity. Poetry is about love and loss, joy, and sorrow, hope and despair. It is about you and how you are more like me, than I could ever imagine, until I read your poem and respond to your words and, to your feelings.
So, today’s lesson is simply – write a poem about what you feel and as you write it, feel what you write. If it’s a sad poem, a poem about lost love or the loss of someone loved, allow yourself to go back to that place, that feeling, immerse yourself in it, indulge in it. Cry if you must. But do not be miserly with your emotions because if you do, we will not relate to your poem.
And of course, you are you, and I am me, and so, I cannot necessarily know what you know and that is why, poetry depends on imagery to relate feelings. If you lost a pet, and I may never have had a pet, if you tell me how sad you were to lose your beloved pet, I may not really understand that. But be sure, I have lost something or someone and if you tell me: “There was an emptiness / like dark black space / where stars have faded past the hope of light…” that, I am able to relate to.
So, today’s lesson is to write a poem about something so meaningful to you, so heartfelt that it will always be a part of you. Write your poem in a way I can relate to, by using images I can “see, taste, touch, feel, and hear” – and then, of course, make sure your poem is filled with honest, relatable emotion.
Poetry is the way words find their way into the heart – write on…