Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Bit About Poetry

     I've always enjoyed reading poetry, and in grade school we frequently used it to sign autograph books the other kids had with that well-known little ditty:

         Roses are red,
        Violets are blue,
        Sugar is sweet,
       And so are you!

     In 8th grade we read a long narrative poem that our teacher felt we needed to round out our education . I loved Evangeline written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a tragic tale of a lost love and lost homeland. It's one that I've never forgotten and as an adult made visits to Nova Scotia where the story began to a small town in Louisiana where it ended. I have a copy of the poem in book form, and every once in awhile, I read it again.
     High school students bemoan the many poems they were forced to memorize. But I bet they still remember opening lines of some of them. I know I do.
     What brought memories of poetry to mind today is that I received notice from an editor of a well-known ezine that she wants to publish a poem I had submitted. "Poignant but lovely poem" is the way she described it. Music to my ears! I have never had any training in writing poetry, but I've written a lot of poems using one guideline--the way they sound to me.
     At a writers' conference last fall, a woman who writes and understands poetry well spoke to our group. She shed a lot of light on how and why poetry is written, showing examples through her own poems. One of the things she suggested was to write a poem based on something in a dream. So one morning I woke up mystified by my dream--a train speeding through the night with old gypsy women sewing while the young girls danced and played. It had been so vivid and alive. I wrote the first line and the words kept coming until I had a fairly lengthy poem. I put it away, then reworked it later and sent it to my online critique group. I had some positive feedback so felt encouraged to send it to an editor. The first one rejected it, but the second one sent me that nice note yesterday. "play, gypsy girl, play" will be published in March of 2010.
     Have you ever tried writing poetry? Free verse is the easiest way to begin. Find an opening line and freewrite. You might be surprised at what you come up with.

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