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Emotional Poetry

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Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:08 pm
Emerson says...



WHAT DO WE BEGIN WITH?

Seeing as a large percentage of us are teenagers, we tend to like to write about our emotions. We’re all on hormonal highs, who doesn’t get upset now and then and wants to put it into word? But rather than be like everyone else in the world and write in a journal, we want to write a poem so we can share it with are friends, because misery likes company, right? So we start writing…

I’m drowning in my tears,
Because I feel so alone.
I see so many other happy people.
Why am I alone?
I’m scared to talk to anyone.
What will they think?
They will think I am alone.


Now, mind I wrote this as a bit of a hyperbole, to exaggerate it. I also just wrote it for this article, so it is really lacking true emotion behind it, but hopefully I can make you think there is emotion behind it, in the way I fix it up.

SO WHAT IS WRONG?

Don’t think I’m saying everything like looks like the above is horrible I’m just showing you how you can move one step up. The two things I would like to pick on for emotional poetry are the poet’s focus, and word choice. (And maybe I’ll scatter some other things in for the heck of it and not realize it.)

There is, honestly, so much to consider when writing a poem, but I can only touch on so much here. I’m ignoring style, structure, rhyming, and rhythm. Forget it exists, for now. Let’s stick to the points I want to work with.

What do I mean when I say the poet’s focus? I’m talking about who we are thinking of when we are writing the poem. Me, of course! I bet you are thinking that, aren’t you? And it’s true, when you are writing an emotional poem about something you experienced and want to express, you are going to become a very selfish writing. If you don’t plan on turning this emotional conundrum into good-to-read poetry, then forget I’m even talking to you. But, if you want to right real poetry that people are going to enjoy, you are going to want to forget yourself all together and think of the reader while writing.

Don’t tell us how you feel, NO, don’t even show us how you feel. Make us feel it. Emotional poetry often times turn into, to steal Snoink’s word, a shopping list. You list the things that happened, followed by a few lines of boo-hoo’s, and call it a day. This isn’t good enough. Put us in your seat, and yes do tell us why we are feeling this way, but make sure we feel it. You want to make us cry/scream/laugh/freak out, what ever you are feeling you want the reader to feel. This is just as close to ‘show, don’t tell’ as poetry will ever get, because telling is the most boring thing in the world. Showing is one step up, and from there is feeling.

For more on this or related topics:
Navel Gazing by Snoink.
Making Your Reader Feel by Me

On to the other idea, word choice. Since words are what make up a poem, we should use good words, right? Why use things like ugly, crying, and pain, when you can say deformed, weeping, and torture? Exactly. For every word out there, there is one better than it. (In most cases.) Really all I’m saying is, when writing the poem, don’t choose flimsy words that are thrown around like anything. Pain is such a general term, but is it torture, or ache? Both torture and ache have a connotation with them, they make you think of things besides just pain, and that is what makes them good. Pain, on the other hand, is a plan-and-simple word. Strive for the better words, the words that express how you feel/want your reader to feel in a more vivid way.

AN EXAMPLE

So, do we get to see an example of these two things in word? Of course. But, I must warn you, I have never been the best at these kinds of things, which is surprising seeing as I’m writing an article about it? But I will do my best. Mostly, I just want to show the usage of these two skills, so it doesn’t have to be amazing poetry. I’m also over critical of myself.

In the halls where people walk
You feel your chest tighten.
Where you should be normal like them,
You choke and want to hide.
Let yourself be consumed,
Dive into the terror.
Know that they are watching you:
Soon it will all be over…


I’m not exactly sure this was a good example? I’m writing it on the spur of the moment. So, instead, I shall just link you to an actual emotional poem I wrote, that I assume should be better than the above. Anxiety by Me

AN ENDING

I like closure. So to close, I’m going to quote some people. Also, I would like to make a note: I was bad, I only covered what I will call negative poetry. I didn’t talk about happy poetry, sorry folks. I’m sure the same can be said for that, too, though.

\\\"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.\\\" - T.S. Eliot

\\\"Poetry should please by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance.\\\" - John Keats
“It's necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo




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Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:32 pm
talton101 says...



Very helpful advice most of the poems i write come with tons of emotions. So your article hits home.




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Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:53 pm
BrightBlueDimond says...



I think your example was Brilliant. I have so many emotions at the moment with boyfriend things and home and school. I'll definatly try writing a few poems and post them on this website. That was truely awsome. :) xx




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Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:49 am
niteowl says...



You spelled "write" wrong. Tsk, tsk.

Sorry, had to point that out.

Great article, though.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci
"You need a reason to be sad. You don't need a reason to be happy." DJ, "Sideways Stories from Wayside School"
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Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:18 am
Kalliope says...



This is really helpful. I'd heard a lot of it before, but it was great to have it all summed up and to have some good examples.
If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. - Lewis Carol (1832-98 )


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Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:01 am
`Stoney says...



There are actually a few grammatical and spelling errors throughout this XD
"The 50-50-90 rule: Any time you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong." ~ No idea who originally said it.. XD




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Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:44 pm
Emerson says...



Yeah, well, and it is two years old. XD I was even worse at catching errors back then than I am now! ^_^
“It's necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo




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Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:01 pm
tori1234 says...



thanks! This helped a lot!
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Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:01 pm
Star.Shine says...



This is very helpful, thanks :)




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Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:40 pm
Navita says...



This is great - showing not telling, and going beyond that - I definitely agree with it. I have not browsed around this forum for long enough to know what the protocol is when writing a comment - am I allowed to add to your argument? Because I would really, really like to.

Raw emotion has no appeal, because it is actually totally inaccessible by the audience, so it comes across as fake. Intelligent and carefully controlled emotion channeling through the spirit of your poem has greater effect. Which means poetry must have another dimension - the intellectual one. Okay, so not ALL poems have to have a purpose/theme/'head' to them, but it's helpful if they do, so the reader knows, a long time after having read it, what was the point of the poem.

Secondly, what Suzanne was saying about the 'showing' part. To give the poem a third dimension (the first two were 'heart' and 'head'), you need a suitable channel to communicate it through - to stop it being self-centred, and WITHIN yourself, you need to look out and find common things - or not so common things - that people can relate to. This is called IMAGERY and is the main driver of the poem, since it helps us imagine things. The 'head' and 'heart' parts tend to get too wrapped up in REALITY, so a balance is needed. Here's where metaphors, similes, figures of speech come in handy.

Really, if the poem has all three dimensions, then that main dimension, emotion, will stand out all the more to us! :)




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Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:30 pm
Emerson says...



Thanks for the comments, Navita! You should write your own article on emotions and poetry - I'm sure more people could use straight forward advice like that. :) My article wasn't so very straight forward!
“It's necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo