Poetry is an excellent topic to follow my last post about my mother, who is a poet herself. I’ve received questions in the past regarding my inspiration for my poetry, my process, and my preferences. Like my mother, I prefer rhyming poetry, but the more I've studied various forms, the more I've come to appreciate non-rhyming poetry, as well. As for my writing process, I tend to start with an emotion I want to express. Then I build on that emotion, wrapping it in words to explore the different facets of it.

In a sense, the emotion is like a precious gem and the words I use are like display lights shining on it. Each light comes from a different angle so that specific facets of the stone are illuminated, bringing out the desired qualities. In this way, I use words to shed light on various aspects of my emotions. This is both good and bad. It’s good because it helps my poetry have feeling, which is important. It’s bad because it often leaves me stuck in the beginning, middle, or end of the poem.

Starting from a place of feeling rather than logic gives me only the sentiment I want to leave readers with, not the method to efficiently accomplish my goal. I usually don’t plan my poems, I let them grow, and this means that they usually take a while for me to finish, if I ever do. I also usually write in free verse or use rhyming poetry without a specific form in mind because my focus is first on the reaction I want, not the delivery. Unfortunately, this can be limiting in that it doesn't push me to try new forms or styles.

Now, there have been a few times recently when I had specific messages I wanted to send (which are more concrete than feelings), and I had ideas on how to do it. I thought about what metaphors I wanted to use and where I wanted the poems to go. Then I started writing. What I noticed doing this is that the poems came out faster, but I spent more time editing them because they didn’t quite have the level of emotion I wanted. They felt colder to me.

“The Night Queen” is one poem I built around a certain message. “The Dark Forest” is one I built around a host of emotions. I’ve polished both to my liking, but I still feel that “The Dark Forest” is much more emotive than the other and I prefer it. But even though I feel more disconnected from my poetry when I think it through instead of letting emotion take the reins, I’m still glad I tried a new approach to writing them. It helped me look at my poems from other perspectives and it encouraged me to analyze my poetic forms more closely.

If you write poetry, it might be a good idea to try changing up your approach to the writing process, and don’t worry if you don’t finish a poem all in one sitting. Let your thoughts and ideas incubate and you might just come back to your poem with new ideas and directions you want it to go. If you’re a poet, let me know in the comments. What kind of poetry do you like to write? Are you more into the logical, planned approach or the emotional approach, or do you blend them together? I’d love to find out!