Elements of Poetry

Written by Lauryn Evans

Ever since I was a child, I have found creative writing fascinating and soon became enthralled in writing my own short stories. I have always loved being able to create these small worlds that are only mine and choosing who gets to be a part of them. Being able to immortalize both moments and people, all of which seemingly lives forever. I view art as an extension of our very being, and it is living and breathing in its own way. Being able to experience the depths of others through their art is perhaps one of the most beautiful human experiences to me.

While my love for writing started with writing my own short stories, I have come to love poetry and prose, along with spoken word. Writing poetry is not something that has a certain set of guidelines, at least not to me. The first time I wrote what I deemed to be poetry, I was 12. I had no understanding of poetic diction. My expertise in literary devices was limited to metaphors and hyperboles, nor did I know how to utilize meter in poetry. It was simply just me, my pen and notepad, and everything that I felt. To me, that is still all I need to write poetry. 

Write for you

The most important piece about writing poetry, and really any method of creative expression, is to create for you and only you. Do not change your style just to appeal to your audience or because you believe it will help you gain larger recognition. Do not create things for the sole purpose of pleasing your audience. Be authentic in your creations, and those who take a liking to your work will be there for all the right reasons – they appreciate your true, raw expression. 

Try some prose writing

Going into writing, thinking, “okay, I need four stanzas and ____ rhyme scheme,” often places more restrictions and can narrow our creativity. Choosing your poetry style early on can have setbacks. My own general rule of thumb for myself is to start everything as free-verse poetry, meaning there is no specific length, rhyme scheme, or meter. It gives you free rein, and allows you to hone your own style. Write, and see where it takes you. It does not need to be perfect.

Paint a picture

Poetry is a very emotive art form. While you can be abstract in your work, seemingly bringing in many ideas and emotions, there always tends to be an underlying motif. With visual arts, you get to create a picture. You let your viewers see exactly what you wanted – your use of contrasting colours, your artistic style, and the different materials used. Poetry does not have this. Rather, you must use your words to paint a picture. This is when the use of literary devices becomes especially handy, as does your vocabulary. Be precise and let your words carry emotion without having to explicitly say what you are feeling or what you want your reader to feel.

Be open to being raw and vulnerable 

I think most people can agree when I say that the art that tends to stick with us evoked emotion, whether that means the artist made us feel what they were feeling or that they awoke an emotion within us that had otherwise been quiet. My favourite art is one that causes me to question myself and my own internal systems, one that forges curiosity of self and others. I still remember the first spoken word piece I listened to, ‘Waking Up Naked’ by Michael Lee, and I still get goosebumps when listening to it. Lee’s vulnerability and determination in this specific poem has stuck with me over six years later, and I still find myself revisiting it because there is always something new to take away. 

There is no such thing as perfect 

You will be your own harshest critic. You will notice some things you will deem as mistakes or lost opportunities – wishing you had used a semicolon rather than a period, maybe a better word than the one you had chosen, or maybe you question the flow of diction because it could have been better. I promise you that no one else will notice these things. No one will read your work and think, “this could have been better if they had just done _____.” Of course, there will be people that will hold judgements towards your work, and there will even be some that don’t like it, but that is okay. You are not here to be liked by everyone. 

You don’t need to share your poetry if you don’t want to

Sharing your poetry can be scary, but you don’t have to put your work out into the world if you do not want to. The first time I shared my work was when I started doing spoken word, and I was overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and worried that others would not like my work. I was not prepared for the response I received. To this day, I still find myself shocked at the positive feedback I get from others. It took me years to share my work, but for some, they have always shared their work and for many, their art remains sacred and secret; all is valid.

Create, and do so without placing expectations and restrictions on yourself. See where your poetry takes you, rather than where you can take your poetry. You might just be surprised by what has been within you all along.

Wake in the mo(u)rning

As we wake in the morning, 

know I will be mourning.

Nothing will be the same

& I will not be living how I did yesterday.

When I meet my demise, 

I will fall till all ends meet 

& butterflies will bloom from my rotten, decaying flesh. 

Once again, 

I will be beautiful. 

As you wake in the morning, 

see the butterfly & hold it close. 

For just three breaths & not one more,

I will whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

Your shadow casted on your wall, 

a pale imitation of who you were before.

Look to the sun & let it open your eyes —

you will see all the things we could have been

& everything we will never be.

When my wake starts & your mourning begins,

release me into the crisp early morning air

& find my heartbeat in the leaves beneath your feet.

Mourning is fragile —

the sun breaks through your curtains telling you that yesterday is over

& that nothing is the same.

The sun whispers through your ruffled hair

reminding you that things suddenly disappear.

As we wake in our mourning, 

we’ll look to the sky & in all the same breaths, 

our mornings will be separate once again. 

l.e (I was never truly yours)

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