Poetry can be seen an an obscure and inaccessible art form. The impression people get is of very archaic words and difficult prose all tied together with inexplicable rigid forms that make poetry hard to read, let alone write. This impression may be arrived at by observing certain people who favor more strictly crafted forms of poetry. It certainly doesn’t represent the whole landscape of the art.
Poetry can be written in any form, any style, with punctuation, no punctuation or unusual uses of punctuation. It can be short or long. The lines in poetry can be short or long or the work can read more like prose, Carol Ann Duffy’s poems are an example of a more prose like style of poetry. Poems are thought of as rhyming on every line but they can also rhyme every other line or not at all.
Essentially if you want to write in an established style of poetry then you must follow the rules and customs of that style. However this doesn’t mean that your own expression can’t be written however you think is the best way to write it. Even the idea that poetry should be brief has often been challenged and some very famous works have resulted from it.
If you want to write poetry you need to only think about what you want to convey or express to a reader. This could be anger, frustration at a mundane point of life or a description of something beautiful. The question is not necessarily if you can manage this and get all your capitals and repetitions in the right places. The question is how can language, rhyme or punctuation be used as a tool to get your expression across more effectively?
Read some famous poems for inspiration. “Vulture” by Chinua Achebe uses adjectives to describe how vultures, ugly beings to us, are affectionate and loving to each other. Seamus Heaney’s “The Early Purges” is an example of how sound can be described in such a way that the reader can feel the scene being described.
To be a poet you need only to write a poem. To write a poem you only need to wish to convey something to another person. How well you can do this is how great of a poet you can be. Poetry will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of language and where certain words are more effective that others or perhaps certain words are more effective together. Writing poetry will make you a more engaging person to listen to in life generally and you will find it easier to powerfully express yourself.
Pick up your pen today!