Why We Write Poetry

With the release of my poetry collection, ‘A Poetic Proposal’, I have been pondering, musing if you will, on why it is that we write poetry. Reflecting further upon what I consider a rather interesting question, I came up with a few reasons why it is that I like to write poetry.

We will get on to some of those thoughts shortly. I figured that there must be as many different reasons for writing poetry as there are poets out there. What is it that motivates us? Is every poet different or are there commonalities that can be observed? What is it that gave each of us that first initial spark, that push to write poetry?

Not satisfied with just my own thoughts and opinions I decided to garner those of some of my favourite, blogging poets to help me answer this question. It was very illuminating to discover why it is that each of them writes poetry.

Personally, I have always had a fondness for words, and for language in general, for puns, wordplay, and rhymes. I used to invent myriad little rhymes, couplets, and wordplays, but being the lewd Englishman many of them are not suitable for public consumption, not even here in the sanctity of this blog reserved for ‘Life, Literature, and Lewd Comments’.

I also enjoy the intellectual challenge of trying to convey my thoughts, feelings, emotions, in words.

I never really found that I had much to say in the past. Then one day, like a blinding light from the heavens above, I went and fell in love. It was as if my heart and soul exploded in a shower of coruscating light, an iridescence of bright, blinding colours, and just like that I suddenly had something to say.

There were a million raging emotions coursing through my head, trying to escape the confines of my mind, my heart, my soul. I now had a reason. A reason to write, to express myself to someone, to the woman that I love. I wanted her to know how I felt about her, for her to be able to experience the emotions that she excited within me. I am fully aware that mere words are insufficient to fully relate these emotions, but I want to do my utmost to convey these feelings to her, and also to others. To show the world how I feel.

So, that is me. My motivation for writing poetry, but what about some others. Below I have quoted the thoughts of three of my favourite poets, Dominic, Pamela, and Ellespeth. I heartily recommend reading their blogs and experiencing their poetry for yourselves.

‘I have written poetry since I was a pre-teen, primarily because I loved words, but also because I felt that I had something important to say, at least as much as any pre-teen boy could.  As a very shy person by nature, I was never comfortable speaking my thoughts and feelings verbally, though I was quite comfortable putting them on paper and I found poetry to be the perfect avenue.  I stopped writing poetry through much of my teenage and adult years up until a few years ago and from the first moment that I put pen to paper after this long absence it has almost become an addiction.  I guess in the end I write poetry for the sheer love of it.’Dominic DiFranceso, Black and Write

‘I think that writing poetry started as a way to get my feelings out of my heart and head. The longer I have written though I find that I need to write. Writing poetry has been a way to express myself. Poetry (at least the forms I use) forces me to be very intentional with my words.’Pamela Beckford, Poetry by Pamela

Despite her lovely words, Pamela prefers to use poetry, in this case a tanka, to express herself and has written this beautiful poem to help us understand better why she writes poetry.

Words and emotions
Entwine to express myself
Feelings are heartfelt
Words tumble out of my lips
Nothing can stop their free flow

and finally

‘The older I get, the clearer the answer becomes:  I write to honor life.  There are also moments when something I’ve been questioning is suddenly distilled into a very short poem – just enough words for my heart to manage then and there.  I used to kick myself for not keeping a journal.  Now I realize that my poetry is my journal.’Ellespeth, Views From A Poet

So there are, it seems, many varied reasons why we write poetry, and I am sure that we have not even scratched the surface here. I hope that this has given a little insight into the mind of the poet, whilst highlighting that there is no single answer to this question. Thank you so very much to Dominic, Pamela, and Ellespeth for taking the time to contribute.

If you have ever written poetry why not take a few minutes to reflect on why that is. What attracted you to poetry as a form? Was it a one off, or do you write poetry consistently? Do you write both poetry and prose, more of one than the other? Have a think and please share your thoughts in the comments. Add to the body of knowledge.

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32 thoughts on “Why We Write Poetry

  1. Part of my bucket list is to express myself through poetry. I have been studying various forms and am now comfortable exposing myself (er.. let me rephrase that) Comfortable letting the world see what I have written on one form only and that is Haiku. The rest need to mature a little before throwing them into the cold snow (so to speak)

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    • Well we certainly enjoy reading the weekly Johnku. I think that is one of the things about writing. It is developing that comfort with a particular form, be that poetry in its many forms, or prose, to be able to share it with others. Fortunately for me there is no form to anything I write, so that kind of eases things a little.

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      • And the book I just finished reading was bemoaning the fact that poetry stopped rhyming over a hundred years ago. Poetry doesn’t need to rhyme. I love the fact that it can rhyme, but that it doesn’t have to. It reduces the restrictions to freedom of expression by not having to rhyme. It is being able to express our thoughts, feelings, emotions in an unrestricted, unfettered way, whether that be within the rules of a particular prescribed formula or not. I think too many people do not appreciate the fact that poetry need not rhyme. They are missing the point somewhat, I think.

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  2. At least in the way I exercise it, I find poetry is much more open and allows me to explore the emotional core of a message more easily than prose.

    It is not to say that prose cannot be beautiful, uplifting and elegant, but rather that in company with prose are thoughts of meaning, sentence structure and other forms of literary architecture that can rigidify expression.

    When I write prose, I expect you to take away the messages I was delivering. When I write poetry, I welcome you to go places that I may never have intended.

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    • I like that, Randy. It is like you are giving the reader free license to go wherever their imagination takes them, rather than restricting them more tightly in the framework that you have set up in your prose.

      Thanks for the excellent, intelligent, and fascinating comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poetry is fun
    A break from the structured prose
    At least for this schmuck

    Seriously though, I always dabbled in poetry with no structure because it was a ‘simple’, ‘quick’ writing form that I could use when I needed it. Doing a poem took the edge off long bouts of not touching my book ideas or when I wanted to do something unique for a school project. So it’s really just been another venue for my thoughts and emotions. In fact, I still have notes on a method of writing Legends of Windemere entirely in poetry. Each character would have a different form and each scene would be told from one of their eyes. It really was a bad idea in retrospect.

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  4. Nice reflection on how and why we use our words.

    My poetry is my most private of expression forms. I always used it to convey my innermost thoughts in words that were for my eyes only. I’ve shared some of it on my blog, but the deepest, darkest is like therapy for me.

    My prose is meant to entertain and to record for posterity. It’s less for me and more for you.

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    • I like the distinction between your poetry and your prose. I imagine that your poetry is more of a cathartic activity for you, deeply personal and cleansing.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Susan. It really is interesting to see the number of different views and opinions that people have on their reasons for writing poetry.

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    • I have to dispute that. I think that you are an amazing poet. I do see how writing can help organise thoughts and feelings though. I like it. It is something that I hadn’t thought about, but is a very interesting point.

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  5. I write poetry because it comes naturally to me. It always has. I have now fallen in love with writing Haiku. To say so much in so few words is a challenge I enjoy. Nice post.

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    • Thank you for the interesting comment. It is nice when something comes naturally. Your point about Haiku and the ability to say so much in so few words is great. There is a certain intellectual challenge to writing within the bounds of a strict format.

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  6. I don’t write poetry. But I’m absolutely in awe of those who do! I’m amazed at the way a tiny little group of words can convey more than an entire novel, grab the heart and soul of feelings, and connect them to a reader. Okay, I’m jealous too…

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    • Thank you for your comment. I think that best situation is to be able to write both poetry and novels, using whichever form can convey your purpose to its best. I am jealous of those that can write novels.

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  7. Pingback: A Poetic Proposal Blog Tour Starts Tomorrow | Julian Froment's Blog

    • I agree. It can be intellectually stimulating writing rhyming poetry, or indeed non-rhyming poetry where one needs to adhere to strict requirements such as syllable counts and so on. Thank you for your comments. It is good to get another viewpoint.

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  8. This is a wonderful post Julian, it is very interesting to see why others write poetry, in the end it seems to be a very personal journey. Thank you for including me and for sharing the thoughts of some very talented poets.

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    • Thank you for contributing, Dom. Your thoughts were greatly appreciated. It definitely seems to be a very personal journey, with a number of different motivators. It is illuminating to see the variances, but also the commonalities between different poets.

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    • This is a very good point. I agree totally. I think this is the power of poetry. The ability to express complex feelings and emotions succinctly. Thank you for the congratulations, and for your great comment.

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