31 Days of Poetry {day 9} Poetry 101 pt 1

Welcome to 31 DAYS of Poetry.

Today and tomorrow, I shall be delighting you or boring you to tears with an entirely too quick, not at all comprehensive, introduction or refresher in poetry and its various forms.

If you are interested in a more rigorous poetry introduction, may I suggest Perrine’s Sound and Sense.

(Note: this is a college introductory level poetry textbook, and it was quite pricey when I bought it. Check out used bookstores or online book retailers for a used copy. The information doesn’t really change, but the poems illustrating the terms may.)


So you want to know some more about poetry.

What is poetry? Good question, and I don’t have a definitive end all definition for you. Wordsworth said “it was the overflow of powerful feelings.” Emily Dickinson said when she “felt like the top of her head had been taken off” that she knew it was poetry. Some argue it evokes experience and literary language. Some argue it is an image. Take your pick. Personally, I espouse to Dickinson’s point of view.

What are some common forms of poetry?

  • Ballad: a short poem that tells a story in stanza form. Variation: folk ballad, same idea but usually the writer is anonymous and it is passed down through oral tradition.
  • Free verse: no metrical pattern or rhyme, breaks and pause come naturally out of the poem. (This is what I do)
  • Sestina: a poem of six six-line stanzas and 3 envoys. The stanza following another will repeat the last line but in a different order, the envoy uses the words again. A bit complicated as a fixed form.
  • Sonnet: a 14 line  fixed form poem written in iambic pentameter. Variations: the Italian: contents 1 octave(8 rhymed lines) and a sestet(6 rhymed lines). the English contents 3 quatrains(a set of 4 rhymed lines) and 1 couplet (a pair of rhyming lines).
  • Villanelle: a 19 line poem consisting of  5 tercets(three rhymed lines) and a quatrain.


What questions do you have poetry or its forms or its parts? Let me know in the comments.

31 Days of Poetry {day 5} Help Us See

Welcome to day 5 of our 31 Days of Poetry. Tomorrow, I will have all of this weeks links in one lovely spot for you. Join other 31 Day Writers over at The Nester.

To write poetry, you must help your readers see. It doesn’t matter what snapshot of life you want to encapsulate in verse, but you must help us see it. As a poet, I can trace my ideas of poetry to Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and H.D. Each one of these poets helped us envision something whether it was a fly buzzing around a corpse, a yellow cat-like smoke, a red wheel barrow, or a sea garden.

For me, I focus intently on an image, then allow the first words to bubble up and out in a hurried helter-skelter way. On paper or computer or Evernote(best app ever for writers). Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect because it won’t be. Just write the image and move on.

To write poetry, you must stop hiding behind pretty words. Poetry isn’t the loveliest words vomited on the page. That’s Hallmark, and it’s shit. You want your image to shine through nouns and verbs rather than being bogged done with adjectives and adverbs(oh grammar, I knew you would be helpful).

And because I couldn’t write an entire on poetry without some poetry here you go:


some novel 

i need to bury myself

beneath the covers

of some novel

(doesn’t matter which one

just no dickens or hardy;

austen and wharton are better).

let its words

soothe the rough places.

it pages like down comforters

pull me in so i won’t leave.

because everything

in the novel

will conclude neatly

and the characters live on–

i need this now.

an end point, a certainty,

a something.

10 Books a Week: Poetry

Yesterday, I gave y’all my 10 Books a Week that influenced my faith. Today, I’m deviating from Sarah Bessey’s Parenting books(sorry, most books written specifically about step-parenting should be ignored–the most wretched parenting advice ever) or her lovely Canadian books to read(I suppose I could do a series on books by Virginians or North Carolinians, but not today).

Today is for poetry that has influenced me–the poet writer, the beauty seeker, the truth teller.

 Ten Poets who Influence my Poetry:

  1. Geoffry Chaucer: Perhaps, this poet/writer is a bit of a shock. What NO Shakespeare? As a poet, I find Chaucer’s banter funnier and more engaging than The Bard…but what do you expect from a Medievalist?
  2. Irish Ballads and Folk Songs: In high school, my closest friends and I were in a huge Irish phase. Now, my family did come from Ireland before the Civil War which somehow cemented my need to connect to my Irish heritage. The myths are bare and lovely. The songs sad, a bit tongue in cheek at times. But then again, so am I.
  3. William Butler Yeats: Oh look, another Irish poet. I adore Yeats’ complexity, his cyclic poetic nature, his Crazy Jane poems(somewhere, I have a lovely 20 something page grad seminar paper on these poems…never to see the light of day again). I see his quirky way of seeing nature, characters, and god, and this is poetry that I want to write.
  4. Sylvia Plath: Her poetry isn’t full of fancy words, but neither is mine. I love her choice of simple, plain words to convey the image, the feeling, the moment. Her poem Mirror still haunts me.
  5. English Romantic Poets: William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge: In order to understand Yeat, I needed to read Blake. His Innocence and Experience poems probe many of the questions about faith and God that I find in myself. And in my poetry. Coleridge is merely sentimental albatross. I love his poetry, but he doesn’t play a large part in what I write.
  6. English Victorian Poets: Gerard Manly Hopkins and Christina Rossetti: Despite the overly flowery nature of Hopkins poetry(try reading The Windhover without getting your tongue tangled), I love his representations of God, God’s nature in nature…Pied Beauty represents some of the most lovely of Hopkins’s works. Then, Christina Rossetti, her poetry has some of the best representations of faith. Of course, who doesn’t adore Goblin Market?
  7. Emily Dickinson: She was the first American poet that I read and adored. Her abstractness appealed to me in way that other Americans from the 19th century just didn’t.
  8. William Carlos Williams: Simple images, plain language, image is the key. Like many, I got hung up one red wagons, ice box plums, but then I looked and read closer. The image pulses with life that Williams didn’t need so many words…just the image.
  9. T.S. Eliot: Oh look, Eliot returns again to my lists. I’m drawn to his poetry during the latter part of this life. His Ariel poems, his Four Quartets, his Hollow Men. I don’t see him so much in my poetry, but I feel his influence every time I read him. Odd as it may seem, his poetry is my go to for solace and comfort.
  10. H.D.: Another Imagist, her poetry moves and breathes and makes my head swim with its loveliest. She is the most influential when it comes to my poetry. I adore her.

Honorable mentions: William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Bishop, Dante, Ted Hughes, e.e. cummings, John Donne, Basho


What poets do you enjoy reading? Share in the comments.

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Rose Wind

Winds whips us

Like chastised school children

Red-faced, we breath deep cold Spring’s air.

Before the next gust catches us unawares,

We run. Shoes tumble, dog paws gallop

Over hill and grass and weeds.

Up the slope, up toward yellow house,

Up toward bushes, Up toward last year’s roses

There, standing erect with tight heads,

An orange bloom clinging tightly to its petals,

A miser of sorts unwilling to part

With her new spring clothing.

For a moment, we pause

Until the next burst of wind

Blows us away.


Today, I am linking up with Joy in this Journey and Life UnMasked. Come share your post here.

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