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Wolves, Witches and other Poems by Alison Hodges
Alison explores the powerful connection between the nature-focused spirituality of witches and the atmosphere such tales naturally create.
Buy it for $14.95 at Amazon
Majestic Colors by Jennifer Cahill
Jennifer deconstructs the ordinary experiences of color in everyday life, using them as a guide for poetic inspiration. Her colorful poetry explores seasons, nature, and leave you looking at life in a new way.
Buy it for $14.95 at Amazon
Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason-
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all-my only swerving-,
then pushed her over the edge into the river. - comment on the poem
How to show emotion in poetry - without pushing away your reader
Longtime readers will be aware of my admiration of Ted Kooser - his $7 Poetry Home Repair Manual is the best book about writing poetry I''ve read. I don''t mean to advertise, I actually feel this book helps the #1 issue I see in amateur poets.
One of the things he explains best is the poetic idea of "show don''t tell" - it''s better to "show" feelings through concrete description, vs. telling someone what they should feel. Feelings are a huge part of the source of a poem, but they are also dangerous because "gushiness" drives readers away.
Most of the time your reader is a stranger, and a stranger doesn''t want to hear about how "he broke up with me and I''m so sad". Expressing these feelings through story or metaphor are a stronger and less awkward way of showing these feelings. For example, "It''s fall again: everything dies. Each leaf has grown only to fall dry through the air, out of reach of it''s companions and utterly alone."
Ted Kooser goes into more depth in this excerpt from page 60:
One of the hardest things to learn is how poems can express strong feelings without expressly stating those feelings. Part of the problem is that in everyday conversation we often quite freely make statements about feelings: "The kids'' goldfish died and they really felt bad"... A poem begins with description and follows description all the way through, letting the behavior of the participants show us how they feel... I know how to appropriately respond to that kind of description, and have quite strong feelings from it without the poet telling me how she wants me to feel...
When it comes to expressing feelings, each of us knows not to walk right up to a total stranger on a street corner, somebody waiting for a light to change, and immediately say "My lover just left me and I AM ABOUT READY TO FREAK OUT!" We know that if we did, the stranger would likely take off running against the red light. But if we''re friendly, and casually draw that stranger into a conversation, then begin walking along with her, it may be possible to tell her how much trouble we''re in by the time we get to the end of the next block.
It''s not a bad idea to test the opening lines of your poems against this example, because that stranger, your reader, can quite easily be turned away by the first words you write... Your reader is right there on the other side of the table, politely and patiently listening to you. How long do you dare go on about the misery of your hemorrhoids are causing you?
Sometimes with beginning poets I tell them that they are forbidden to write about their feelings. In other words, they cannot make overt statements of feeling. This throws them back upon scene and mood and pacing and other devices through which they must convey their emotions. It''s good discipline. You might try it!
He further says ''[gushy] poetry almost always disappears in time, a victim of its own failure to engage the needs and interests of others.'' - As poets our customer is the ''audience'' we hope to inspire - learning writing techniques like this helps our work touch more people.
Write a poem using metaphor to ''show'' feelings
Keep learning & improving your poetry!