I write poetry when I’m sad. I write poetry when I’m angry. I write poetry when I’m happy. I do my best though, not to write poetry about being sad, angry or happy. I believe that the emotions in poetry must come from what happens in the poem. People want to smell, hear, taste, feel and see things when they read. If they understand from the imagery and the descriptions what is being felt, it will have a far more lasting impression than if they are told that you are sad, happy or angry.
I am not advocating a cold approach to poetry. Poetry should be emotional and it should evoke strong feelings. If I get to the end I should have a pretty good idea of how the poet felt. I just want to make up my mind for myself about that, not have the emotion simply identified for me. This goes back to my discussion about descriptive versus evaluative modifiers. Description informs and guides the reader. Evaluation leads the reader around by the nose. Readers want to go on the journey with you, but they don’t want to be lead.
There are no hard rules in poetry. You can write about what you want. If you want to say you are sad, happy or angry, it isn’t wrong to do so. The risk though, is that you will leave no room for the reader to think and interpret what you wrote. If the reader has nothing left to think about when your poem is over, your poem will soon be forgotten. Â Description and imagery are what stick with people.
Today’s Poetry Prompt
Write a poem that demonstrates strong emotion without ever stating what that emotion is.