All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, March 31, 2023

It's That Time of Year!

 After a technology-induced break from posting, I am back just in time to welcome that most special time of year - National Poetry Month! Yes, April is National Poetry Month as declared by the Academy of American Poets, and therefore a time when I feel obliged to say a little something about this particular art. Don't worry - I won't do too much about the nitty-gritty of poem construction. However, if you will indulge me, I would just like to explore the simplicity that can be found in a poem, then offer a little challenge.

When most people think of a poem, they think of a small batch of words that 1) rhyme, 2) don't take up much of the page, and 3) are way over their head. I feel a certain safety in wagering that a lot of people don't "get" the poems they read, and never give a second thought about writing one. However, I also feel that for the writer, poetry makes for a great exercise in distilling thoughts, ideas, and emotions down to their very core, and discovering what they actually mean. 

For most people who want to try out poetry but aren't sure they have what it takes, I always recommend starting with writing haiku - those little three-line Japanese poems. Though a genuine haiku is often about nature and captures its true essence in the third line, the most important part is that it follows a structure of the three lines having in order five, seven, then five syllables. Very short, very to-the-point. This structure forces the writer to boil the subject down to its core and put it together in very brief terms. But this effort is what poetry is all about:

Writing seventeen

syllables is enough to

create a poet

Sure, that haiku is also a quick way of saying things, but it gets to the essence of the point. And no, it wasn't that hard. The point is that with a little time and effort, you can start broadening your scope, taking more elaborate ideas and digging deep inside them to find the message, then writing a compact haiku that presents bigger thoughts:

Through my mind's window

A hopeful dream looking back

wishing it were real

The task I would ask of any/all readers is to take a minute or two every day just to grab some sentence, idea, or random thing you say, and fit it into this style. Find something - anything - from your day and reshape it into this structure. If you can do this all through National Poetry Month, every day, you will discover that every now and then, something will strike a chord with you. Some might be brutally simple, others might make you raise your eyebrows, but after writing thirty haiku you will be different, and for the better. You will have quietly developed a skill that can feed into the rest of your writing, if you let it. So enjoy, happy writing, and I am off to dinner:

Fries and a Big Mac

are tonight's drive-through dinner,

but it's nourishment

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