What is a Poem?   2 comments


embrace thoughts
spoken freely or bound
convention honored or form redefined
lighthearted verse to sonnet profound
always creative
creative always
profound sonnet to verse lighthearted
redefined form or honored convention
bound or freely spoken
thoughts embrace

© Kate Sender 2006

     A poem is a form of verse that alludes to, but does not tell, what it is. That’s the purpose of prose (or in verse, a metaphor perchance). Maybe an article or a class lesson will tell you what to do, but a poem shows what can be. Yes, the old ‘show’ vs. ‘tell’*Smile* ~ poetry shows the image or idea envisioned by the writer of the poem.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
‘Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.

quoted in Rhyme’s Reason A Guide to English Verse, by poet and critic John Hollander An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope,

     Poetry is: “A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme.” American Heritage Dictionary

     As writers, we are wordsmiths. We select words that transmit ideas, images, sounds, both real and those of our invention. To be a poem, rather than an article or story, however, we take the words a step farther, and piece them together in a way that evokes a sense of the image, idea, or place we want to recall or invent, and the reader to perceive. We mumble the words as we convey them to paper or laptop. Poetry needs to be spoken to achieve its full potential; the reader actively participating in the poem crafted of words in patterns fixed or free form. Reading aloud, the writer and the reader connect with the image or event, bringing it to visual, sensual life.

     That’s the only way to sense the poem — become involved with it. And the way to write one. Just as the dancer puts one foot in front of the other, the painter begins by putting brush to canvas in a series of lines and dots of color, the poet forms an image or story by arranging words with rhythm. And just as the artist first learns to connect two dots to shape a three-dimensional image, the poet learns to craft a poem by connecting words to images to patterns of sound, then making them his/her own.

© Kate Sender 2008, 2010



Write On!




2 responses to “What is a Poem?

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  1. Kate,

    Just a note to let you know you are the WINNER of the FeceBook Virtual Book Blast book giveaway of “MISSION POSSIBLE”. Please email me with your full name & address so I can mail you your signed copy of the book. God bless…

  2. Beautifully said, Kate. Love the way you described the experience of writing a poem

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