"And what is poetry to you?"
My heart feels heavy, and I scribble.
I scribble a line, piece words together
from broken pieces within me.
©Benson Langat, Three Woven Worlds.
What is poetry to you?
I wrote my first poem in 2014 and made my first collection of about 50 poems in 2015. I was young, hot with passion and a boundless dreamer. Looking back today, I cannot recall a year that has passed without a stroke of expression. That is what poetry is to me—a voice for my emotions, my feelings, and my “within man.” What is it to you? Most importantly, what can you make it be?
There is expression, and then there is creation. In a way, the two are entangled and compliment each other. What we feel may not always be in order, readable, rhythmical, or even lyrical. Creation incorporates style into expression, converting words into messages.
Various poetic styles can help you drive a message but poetry is not always about us or what goes on in our lives. It also speaks for the weak in the society, of the vile; poetry seeks out to the unheard and artistically represents. A poetic form can, therefore, suit a situation.
10 poetic styles/forms to crunch
Every poet has a unique voice and thus, style. We can all get our point(s) through in different ways, and in a way, your preferred style defines your writing or poetry.
I love the power in freedom. You get to work with as few or as many lines as you would need or want to. A free-verse has, therefore, always been my most preferred form.
Sometimes, I would rather just pour out what I feel before I can worry about poetic devices and figures of speech (if they do not come naturally). Sometimes, a piece’s raw form looks beautiful and complete as it is.
Do you have a story to tell? A narrative poem can be a good how.
It does not have to be musical like a Sonnet, or rhyme like a Ballad. It does not constrict your theme to only heroes and adventure, or dictate a structure. You get to tell your story your way (your own poetic way).
I love Haikus because they punch a message in only three lines. They are structured, and yet, simple, beautiful.
While you enjoy some freedom with modern Haiku from traditional rules, I find the common 5-7-5 syllable order to have a deep effect. The picture in traditional Haiku surrounds nature; with modern Haiku, you can try out a range of elements in day-to-day life.
Sonnets are growing in me due to the effect of their rhymes and rhyme schemes.
A Shakespearean Sonnet typically features 14 lines with an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme and 5 iambs per line (2 syllable pairs with emphasis on the second syllable).
A Petrarchan Sonnet has its 14 lines divided into an octave and sestet, which respectively, are 8-line and 6-line sub sections. The rhyme scheme in a Petrarchan case is ABBAABBA for the octave and CDECDE or CDCCDC for the sestet.
Like Sonnets, a ballad features rhyming quatrians with an ABAB BCBC rhyme shceme. It can be divided into three stanzas of 8 lines each and a concluding 4-line stanza. Each stanza’s last line is reiterated.
You may find this form to be great for structured narration and storytelling. Ballads can be as long as your story needs to be.
Letters form words and an acrostic poem allows you to make strings of words out of letters of a primary word. Each letters of a word form a line of poetry and often, the lines formed have a connection to the primary word.
ROSE Right back where we started On the bench of our first kiss Soaring higher than our love, Eagles remind me our wildest dreams. ©Benson Langat, 2020.
You have plenty more forms at your disposal! A piece does not have to be perfect. The structures are mere guidelines on what you can make out of your expression. I write more free-verse but I also try new things all the time. You can consider the following if you have not:
- Elegy– a poem about loss or death. You can also discuss reflection and consolation.
- Limerick- a short, silly/playful piece with an AABBA rhyme scheme (5 lines).
- Epic- a poem that tells heroe and adventure stories.
- Tanka- a short, musical poem on love. Modern tanka features 5 lines with 30-31 syllables.
Poetry is expression, creation and connection but above all, it is art.
"Poetry is to me, many, many things But when I'm on the edge And life has had enough of me..." ©Three Woven Worlds, 2020.
We will talk about love, life, and poetry prompts on Thursday; see you tomorrow!
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.