We all recognize poetry when we read it. It has a look and feel like no other art form. But did you know that defining poetry for yourself can help to direct your writing in a very personal and meaningful way?
To get you started, here is the definition I’ve developed for myself:
Poetry is the art of suggesting meaning through the use of rhythmically and purposefully ordered concrete words, lines, and images.
Because writing and reading poetry is a creative endeavor it is a form of art. I choose to say that poetry suggests meaning as a poem is not a sermon or lecture, but a reflection of the poet’s experience. A poet’s primary objective is to bear witness, rather than draw conclusions or make judgments. This allows the reader to connect with the emotion of the poem and personalize its meaning. Poetry is rhythmic. Meter, rhyme, alliteration, syntax, figurative language, and line breaks are carefully chosen to give a poem its own unique heartbeat. The words and images used in poetry should be concrete and specific to allow the reader to experience a poem through their senses. Abstract ideas and concepts have no physical referents. They appeal to the intellect, but are lacking in clarity.
Poetry is the art of surprising yourself and your readers with words. Try your hand at distilling what is important to you in your writing. The results may surprise you. :o)