Research your poetry? Am I nuts?
Why would you do that, unless of course, you’re writing an historical piece and need to make sure your facts are right.
You’ve had an epiphany, an extraordinary thought—a flash of inspiration. You feverishly get those words down before they’re lost forever in the recesses of your already overflowing mind. You read your masterpiece through a few times, making sure you spelled everything correctly; and if it’s a rhyming poem, that the end-lines and syntax are perfect. You really like it, and it’s probably very good. So, you proudly post your poem and wait for some positive feedback, which hopefully, won’t take too long.
Congratulations, it takes courage to bare your writing to people, not knowing how it—or you, will be received. It feels kind of like the standard nightmare of standing up totally naked in front of a crowd to make a speech. (I’m sure some people could actually do that and be very well-received, but I wouldn’t get away with it in a million years.)
But—as nice as your poem may be; as pretty a picture it paints, is it really the best it can be? Is it memorable? Will it linger in the minds of your readers long after they’ve already moved on to the next poem, the next blog, the next writer? Be totally honest with yourself. Does it still linger in your own mind, begging another read, or have you already dismissed it and are racing towards your next poem.
If you’ve even paused briefly to wonder about that, try this. Research the subject of your poem. If it’s about winter, google ‘winter’, ‘snow’, ‘ice’, ‘frost’ —anything that might remotely speak to you of winter. Make a list of those words. Look up the definitions of all the words that are connected to winter. Check your thesaurus to see what other words describe your list of words, and add them to your list. Get to know and understand what they all mean, and how to use them in context. Google images of your words, and save the ones that really speak to you. Put them in the same word document as your list of words, so you can see as well as hear all those words.
And then study them, allowing your mind to wander freely, savouring the thoughts and emotions they evoke in you. It won’t be long before new phrases and words start to flow from that reservoir of imagination inside you that is just waiting to be set free.
Look at your poem again, read it aloud. Are you still satisfied with what you have written? Is it the very best it can possibly be? If you can answer, ‘yes, it is’, that’s absolutely wonderful—but chances are, you already have ideas about how to revise your poem to truly make it the best it can possibly be.
- Poetry: The Ises And Isn’ts (writeyoufools.wordpress.com)
- What do we mean when we say a poem is a machine? Part 4. (wewhoareabouttodie.com)