What is an Everyday Poet?

Everyday life deserves description, and putting artful words together to share your experience with others can make you a poet.

I chose the name everyday poet for this site because of my belief that everyone has the potential to be an everyday poet.

It’s doesn’t matter how ordinary your life is or how little you know about language, literature and rhyming. You have the ability to make extraordinary combinations of words and dub it poetry.

At its core, poetry is not about producing the world’s best poem that the most people love and understand. It’s a practice that feels natural for some, takes work for others but is possible for all.

Your poems may not be carried through the ages or read at commencement ceremonies, but they can still be treasures.

The Value of Poetry

Poetry is a form of art and communication.

Poems allow one human to express a very specific feeling and another human to read and connect with that feeling. This enriches our understanding of ourselves.

The practice of writing poetry helps you define yourself. Each person has a unique voice. You can become a stronger person and more effective communicator by working with the language you know to make verses.

Poems are verses. On their own, they are simply a stream of words put together to convey a feeling, describe an experience and, sometimes, tell a story.

What makes poems valuable isn’t the fact that someone reads a famous author’s lines from on a podium in a large auditorium or puts them in your textbooks. It’s language sharing.

The act of writing and reading poetry is about exchanging thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Poets are Silent Songwriters

While many people visibly cringe at the mention of poetry, everyone loves music. People can easily think of songs they love. If you removed the instruments from the songs, you would be left with poetry.

Songs are a form of poetry.

Both songs and poems allow us to rejoice, mourn, laugh, play, scream and tell stories.

When you read poems aloud, listen closely to hear a musical pattern the holds the sequence together. Especially with free verse. Poems are composed in a similar way to songs. A thought or feeling inspires a person to mix combinations of words on paper. Songs and poems are the results.

Because of the relationship between the art forms of song writing and poetry, I contribute a good part of my interest in poetry to song writers. I have been influenced by the writing in the songs of Billy Joel, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, Jewel, Lil Wayne and Iron and Wine.

Analyze the music you listen to for ideas for writing your own poems.

Does the Technical Stuff Matter?

There are many everyday tools for creating poems: your vocabulary, creativity, stanzas and your collection of life experiences. There are many technical tools for building poems, like rhyming, word order, rhythm, tempo, analogy, sound and more.

Textbooks will describe these terms with fancier names like metric, simile, and chiasmus and more. Knowing the proper words for dissecting poems isn’t necessary to create the best poems. You would be surprised at how often people complete complex poetry actions without actually being able to explain what they did.

However, if you grow more interested in the realm of poetry, learning these terms will allow you to discuss poetry with others and experiment with new ways to write your poems.

Why do I Write Poetry?

I write poetry because I have to. Sounds get stuck in my head and until I put them on paper they just feel like chaos. Writing helps me organize these thoughts and understand my own feelings, desires and disappointments.

My favorite thing about poetry is that you can take an awful experience, like losing a job or having unrequited romantic feelings for someone (both encounters I’ve written about!), and mold a description about the experience that is art. You can make tragedy into a beautiful verse. Then, you have something you’ve made that surpasses the momentary affliction and gently reminds you of who you are and what you are about.

Why Poetry Gets a Bad Name

So many people hate poetry. Poetry assignments in school are tedious. The canon of great poems includes verses that are long, confusing and boring. Being forced to read or write poetry can often feel like a burden.

My two least favorite poems are Wallace Steven’s The Emperor of Ice Cream and Thomas Hardy’s The Convergence of the Twain. Why? Because I find them utterly horribly confusing, I don’t relate to them and they do not make me feel anything!

Part of this is because in college and high school classes we discussed these poems and teachers said “Don’t you see the significance? The hints at political and historical events?!” And truly I didn’t. This doesn’t make them bad poems though. It’s just on a subjective level, I did not enjoy the poems.

Many poems are not enjoyable. I think there’s pressure to love the world’s greatest poems and claim we understand them totally. But this is unfair. Taste does factor in. And I would encourage anyone in the early stage of becoming an everyday poet to develop their own pallet.

Find what you like.

Who influenced me to become an everyday poet?

The first poet I ever encountered was my mother. She wrote poetry and welcomed me to the world of writing your own poetry. She showed me how poetry was valuable and I could be part of it. I hope that everyone has someone in their life telling them their words are valuable.

From an academic standpoint, I had teachers in high school who encouraged me to read and understand poems. In college I took many poetry classes that helped me find a gem here and there that I could relate to and enjoy.

I found enjoy poets like e.e. cummings (I love rulebreakers!), W.H. Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou and Billy Collins.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear a published poet read their work or give a speech, I urge you to go and listen. Hearing the powerful voice of Maya Angelou and the humorous stories from Billy Collins helped me see that these authors are people with everyday experiences that they can transform. You can inspire the broken with verses. You can share your amusement with chess pieces. The possibilities for the types of feelings you can instill in others are endless.

 

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