DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3Hello, I’m Donn Taylor, here again to talk about poetry and ways to achieve the “higher voltage” that distinguishes poetry from most prose. In my last few posts, I spoke of several basic ways to organize a poem. Now we turn to several ways of making your poem different than many, perhaps most, that editors will see. The vast majority of new poems I’m seeing are written in the poet’s own voice, with the poet as the speaker (persona) of the poem and one or more aspects of the poet’s self as the subject. It’s safe to assume that editors will see more of that kind of poem than any other. So I will suggest several techniques of making your poems different.

 

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    Hello. I'm DonnTaylor, writing again about the basic elements of poetry writing. In previous blog sessions we've mentioned the late Lawrence Perrine's statement that poetry speaks "in higher voltage" with greater compression of meaning than most prose. We've also spoken of placing strong words in the emphatic positions of the poetic line, and we've discussed the necessity of using strong images. Now we move to one of the most important elements that achieve compression of meaning, often with striking effect: figurative language. In this session we'll look at personification, simile, and metaphor. We'll cover other figures later.

 

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DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3     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.

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DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3    I have loved poetry since the age of seventeen when I discovered Byron, Keats, and Shelley. As I matured, I came to love deeper masters like Virgil, Spenser, Donne, Milton, and Tennyson, as well as Homer and Dante in translation. But something bad happened to poetry about a hundred years ago, so that many of today's readers are completely turned off toward poetry. It doesn't have to be that way. In my CAN blogs I will encourage a revival of good-quality poetry that can be enjoyed by ordinary readers, and I'll describe and illustrate techniques that can make it that way. But first, let's review the progress of poetry from what it once was into the present unfavorable situation.

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