(For those short on time or patience, the essential part of this posting is at the bottom in bold. Feel free to skip directly to the question, if you like.)
I’ve never been the kind of person who could read or see something beautiful and simply be amazed by it. A pianist’s recital, a painter’s latest portrait, or even listening to the newest U2 song at a crowded concert; I always feel the need to get a personal taste of each respective art after viewing it. I need to learn how to play the piano, draw a portrait, or sing in public. You just don’t get a satisfying enough understanding of a skill until you’ve tried your hand at it, I think.
And, until my attentions came to poetry, that hasn’t been a problem. It’s been great, actually, and I feel like I’ve learned and grown. But poetry… that’s an old foe.
I’ve always felt like I’ve been writing. My imagination churns out plenty between sunrise and sunset, but that’s the familiar friend of prose and non-fiction. And, like most people who fancy themselves writers, I’ve a sizable personal library of other writers’ works. But though they number in the thousands, not a single book of poetry is among them.
These hands have never written a poem. In fact, they tremble at the thought. There is something so deeply frightening to me about writing poetry, and I do not fully understand what it might be. Is that odd?
But recently, I’ve not been able to ignore my growing appreciation for poetry and its interpretation. I can’t overlook the fact that once-hated Shakespeare now engrosses and overwhelms me on a twice weekly basis. I have to admit that just last night I almost sat down and tried to write a poem. I chickened out, FYI.
Fortunately, fear just goads me forward. But perhaps you, dear Dopers, could offer some tidbits of advice that might ease my blind terror. Like a child, I need safety and supervision from the more experienced, and standards and technique might just suffice as training wheels for this ambition.
How does one begin writing poetry?
I know nothing of blank verse, iambic pentameters, or songwriting. Neither the names Irving Layton nor Robert Frost are more than just famous poets to my mind. Their poetry isn’t a part of my knowledge. I’m almost a blank slate, I think, when it comes to poetry. So where does one start? Especially this late in the game. All the poets I’ve ever encountered were writing poems in grade school