Hello. I'm Donn Taylor. Last month I encouraged aspiring poets to write good-quality poetry that can be understood by ordinary readers. This month we begin on basic elements that can make that poetry good.
Ideally, poetry is more compact, more intense than prose. As the late Lawrence Perrine put it, poetry speaks in "higher voltage." William Baer says further that poetry emphasizes the line, the sound of words, and compression of meaning. All of these things are true, but accomplishing them is achieved only by attention to even the smallest elements. Oscar Wilde famously said he'd worked all day on a poem, putting in a comma in the morning and taking it out in the afternoon. A manuscript by Dylan Thomas includes his marginal note, "forty-two prepositions." So to achieve that "higher voltage," we have to begin with words, the building blocks of poetry. For most of us, this means taking a new look at things we already know.