Why do we write poetry? Are there particular rules or structures to follow when we write a poem? I feel we write poetry as an artistic expression of our emotions about a particular event, theme, person, or time. Poetry allows us to unburden our souls or find comfort in words; it also allows us to invite strangers to interpret our message in whatever way they wish to. But poetry is, in essence, a glimpse into someone’s heart or soul.

Poetry comes from the heart and speaks to the soul. The language of poetry is visceral; it affects the emotions on a basic yet heightened level. In  this sense, poetry is paradoxical. While a poem reveals a poet’s inner, personal, often deepest thoughts and secrets, it is hidden under layers of words that misdirect or confound. This is why when students study poetry, they often analyse a poem incorrectly and miss the true meaning.

But one can argue that a poem is open to interpretation, of course, as long as it is not so far off the mark that it becomes nonsensical. When a poet sits down to compose a poem, it can sometimes take up to a month before he or she is entirely satisfied with the poem. On the other hand, some poets can create a magical, transformative and touching poem in under an hour. This can, however, result in an inferior poem, but it is not always the case. Sometimes, a person can be so gifted with words that he or she can write a poem of magnificence in no time at all, simply because the poem stemmed from the heart, and was given shape and life on the page.

A poem should contain symbolism, it should exist on the literal and figurative level, it should have figures of speech like metaphors, alliteration, similes and onomatopoeia. A poem is not a piece of prose, an essay or memoir. It is a beautifully shaped image through the use of specific vocabulary and structure. A poem can be rhymed or unrhymed, but it should also have a sense of rhythm to it, something that can be put to music and sung.

Ultimately, a poem is a beautiful construct of words that expresses emotions too intense to conceal within one’s breast…

Image: Alvaro Serrano (www.unsplash.com)