Anastasia Clark, "Stretching our Poetic Vocal Chords"
Sometimes we get stale. Our poems start to sound alike. Our words become bland, overused and nondescript. We find ourselves snuggling with our favorite verbs, nouns and adjectives and writing poetry that is simply “comfortable” to write. We find ourselves creating “diary poetry” instead of “literary poetry.” Perhaps we receive more rejection letters. Perhaps our fans don’t seem as interested and moved by our poetry as they once were. Perhaps we become bored ourselves with our own work! The question is how do we escape this dilemma? The answer is by “stretching our poetic vocal chords.”
There are several ways to limber up and get our poetic voices back to their lively poetic selves. Here are just a few ideas.
Vocabulary. The dictionary and thesaurus are our friends. They introduce us to a vast array of fresh images as we merely leaf through the pages. I am immediately motivated to write a new poem every time I encounter a new word that “sounds” good or fun. I become fevered with ideas when I am re-acquainted with such words as: gauntlet, diabolical, silversmith, etc. Sometimes one exciting word will plunge me right into a new poem. The added benefit is the innate imagery that is associated with these words. With just one word I can transport my audience into the Middle Ages, Outer Space or even Antarctica.
Form. Experiment with it. Try writing some haiku. It forces one to choose words efficiently. It forces us to pick words that matter and impart our message quickly. Try good, old-fashioned rhyme. It gives us back our poet’s breath and ability to create rhythm. It forces us to look up new words to create rhymes. It forces us to count syllables and measure feet. It forces us to analyze exactly what we are doing. It forces us to do the unthinkable: EDIT!
Style. We can finally implement the things we all learned in school: assonance, consonance, and alliteration. Symbolism. Metaphor. Simile. We can even make an entire poem a metaphor. It adds depth to our work and allows it to be read at various levels.
Point-of-View. Instead of being the jilted lover- be the jilter. Ha ha! Instead of being the victim- be the victor. Be the winner. Be the temptress. Be the queen of the Nile if you like.
Themes. Let’s get wild. We can write about something we have never written about or personally experienced before. We can be an Eskimo, an explorer, a pirate or a robot. Pretending to be someone else, someplace else, doing something we’ve never done before is an instant way to rejuvenate our voices.
Tricks. I personally love italics. I admit it. But there are numerous other ways to jazz up our poetry using dashes, dots, and all those other signs on the keyboard. For example, I was thrilled the day I decorated my train poem with a trail of dashes at the end of each verse. They created the illusion of train tracks and gave me more ideas to use in future poems.
Language. I always find it exciting to mix a couple of foreign words into a poem. Some popular favorites are words we all know: soup du jour, bon voyage, adios……but if we use our imaginations and old high school French, Latin or Spanish dictionaries, we can certainly find more words that might better say what we want to say in the first place.
Each of us has a different voice we want to project. Some of us want to be loud; some of us more subtle. But the most important part of being a poet, is being able to effectively communicate what the heck it is we are actually trying to “say.” That’s why they call us POETS. Let’s give our fans their money’s worthJ
Sea Glass and Ballerinas
We gathered sea glass
Like ballerinas on a windy stage:
A whimsical beach on a rainy day
Looking for old bottles
And broken spirits lost at sea-
Now rolling in
To a speckled shore
A dimpled shore
Of red and green and white and blue
Bits of glass, smoothed by long journeys
In a frosted sea
Dreams of sailors- fisherman…
Kings and queens
Gathered in our fingertips
In a fast embrace
Or perhaps anew-
To be dreamed again
By me and you.
Anastasia Clark is the author of four full-length poetry books (Sun Rising Poetry Press): Grieving with Poetry- a journey to the soul, Bloodsongs- poetry for those who know of being woman, Skeletons and Other Complaints and Vagabond Pond. Chapbooks include: The Poetry Petals series (Sun Rising Poetry Press): Friendship Poems, Healing Poems, Holiday Poems, Humorous Poems, Inspirational Poems, Kaleidoscope Poems, Nostalgic Poems and Romantic Poems. Her most recent chapbook, Confetti Stampede, will be released by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She lives in South Florida and has completed several Broward County Poet-in-Residence projects there. Visit www.AnastasiaClark.com.