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What is Poetry?

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Inspiration has flown out of the window this past week or two. The river of ideas which was flowing into my new poetry collection has suffered days of drought and all I see is crazed terracotta. The occasional light shower creates a few shoots from seeds blown in on life’s breeze, but they shrivel into twisted black threads.
Advice at this point usually boils down to ‘Write, just write.’ That’s all very well, but what’s the point of spewing out poppycock? I believe the thinking behind the advice is that the random assortment of words spread over the page will somehow get rearranged into an attractive collection of stimulating sonnets and thought-provoking villanelles. A bit like a potter turns a blob of clay into a beautiful vase, or a painter creates a fabulous picture from worms of coloured oil on his palette. It doesn’t work like that with me. I end up with lines that rhyme, with mathematically correct metre, and stressed syllables creating accurate iambs. That’s poetry, isn’t it, you may ask. Not for me it isn’t.
Rhymes come two a penny. Look at the zillions of greetings cards on the market. The rhymes can make you giggle, make you sigh, make you hoot, sometimes make you cry. But they get thrown away with the cards. Do you remember them? Do they change your life? Do you feel what was in the mind of the creator when the rhymes were written?
Poetry surely is more than rhythm and style. Doesn’t it have to be sensual? Make your heart miss a beat? Take you to a beautiful place and leave you there even after you have stopped reading? Nod your head as you empathise with the writer’s emotions? OK, this is getting a bit yawn-provoking, but you know what I mean: There is surely a difference between rhymes and poetry. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is restrained. But a difference there is.
So, is my new collection anything more than an assortment of lines where the end words rhyme? I just had a look at those written so far. Yes, some are a bit clinical, especially the couple of pantoums where it seems more work went into the structure than it did the turn of phrase. Some are a bit mathematical, like the chocolate cupcake one shaped like a… cupcake. And some are amusing with no purpose other than to raise a titter or two. As for the others, I read them again and they evoked a range of sentiments inside me. But of course that isn’t the point. I know full well what I meant when I wrote them, what I was feeling, the symbolism, the background. The point is, will the words mean anything to the reader?
I’m not going to find out just yet though, because I want forty poems for the collection and still have five to go. And inspiration has flown out of the window.
Which is where I was when I started writing this blog entry!

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