I have noticed that presently I have four main modes of writing poetry, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
1. Journalling poems that free flow and spill onto the page often with emotion and passion.
2. Crafted/Technique poems that come from setting myself a challenge in technique or a set form but still primarily writing what comes immediately to mind.
3. Playful/ Experimental poems these poems start as games. To my surprise they often lead to narrative poems, or seem to come from daily life and can turn into a journalled experience.
4. Narrative poems/works in series which can use any of the above techniques. In this approach I might take an idea of a loss of a child and create characters to tell a story. I might decide to have a water diviner and a king and see what happens to them as they talk about each other and the problems of their world.
The strength of journalling is that it enables you to tap into your inner thoughts and flow without stopping yourself. Journalling poems can be written everyday.
The strength of crafting in a technique or set form is that you know the shape and structure of your poem and it disciplines an idea you may have had emerge in journalling. Discipline in writing poetry often strengthens it! These poems may take longer to write than journalled ones but they are well worth the effort. You might even start writing daily haiku verses if it’s your free flow identity.
I love to take an idea developed in journalling and crafting and then create something more playful and original. I will often employ creative game ideas, like mixing genres, or found poems to see what discoveries I can make. This is ideal for days where I feel I have nothing to say. I find out that I do.
I find that extending a narrative and trying any of the approaches allows me to create a world in my poems, similar to that a novelist does. I find a technique that might suit a particular character. I am enjoying these sorts of poems more and more. I write these when I feel the next chapter of a poetry narrative is ready. I am thinking of writing outlines for these now.
As for weaknesses journalling poems can be without enough structure and are not always the best ones to share publicly, crafted poems can become too constricting if you are working in a form that doesn’t suit you or the topic.
Playful and experimental poems can be too playful and not focus enough on content if you take it too far, and as for narrative poems, it’s finding the best approach for a particular narrative, or a particular character that can be challenging.
I’ve decided whilst I like all of these techniques, it is now time to find some poetry buddies and add to all of the above, consult poetry critique buddies and rewrite. I especially need to find poetry buddies who write a lot of poetry and know a lot about it so that they can challenge me to push my ability in this form, like a running coach does for a runner.
Perhaps, more on poetry writing buddies in future posts.
How do you approach writing poetry?