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Here at d’Verse we are dedicated to supporting Poetry probably with a capital P that covers all work that you the writer consider poetic by your own definition. Today I would like you to consider how you define your poetry and ask yourself if you identify with pre-existing groups of poets or with one particular poet. A few of you state that you have personal manifestos on your blogs. Others of us just write in our own way in response to an idea or to a prompt.

When I was growing up, poetry was breaking away from the esoteric. Post-war America was becoming MODERN and everything modern was being celebrated. Actually “the modern” began in America and probably the rest of the world in the nineteenth century.


Before the world wide communications that came later, poets clustered together in schools, pubs, and neighborhoods. Being young and passionate, they privately or publicly rebelled against the set order, the status quo. Each one/group wanted to speak about their uniqueness as poets in their unique place and time.  Here is a general list of a century and a half or more of  poetic movements which were in vogue, or perhaps to say those poems that were considered critically and self-published within the group in their own small magazines, or by already established and esteemed journals and magazines of the time:

Cavalier Poets
Metaphysical poets
The Augustans
Lake Poets
American Romanticism
Dark romanticism
Stream of consciousness
The Lost Generation
First World War Poets
Los Contemporáneos
Harlem Renaissance
Southern Agrarians (The Fugitives)
Black Mountain Poets
Beat poets
Hungryalist Poets
Confessional poetry
New York School
Magical Realism
Prakalpana Movement
Spoken Word
New Formalism
Language Poets
Performance and Slam Poetry
For the poets involved in these movements you can find their names and links to most of them and their work here. Suffice it to say they are made up of the poets and their poems we have studied in school, or ones we have found, loved, learned, memorized, and remembered.  In some cases perhaps, we may not have gone beyond the apt words, or a singular poetic work to study the poet’s full body of work.

I began writing in my teens and early on I identified with the Imagists and considered myself to hold to those tenets. But I have been reading, studying and writing poetry during the time of many of these named movements. While listing them here, I find my poems and my sensibilities have been influenced my nearly all of them in one way or another. I think generally in these “poetic movements”, a single poet usually sets out his or her tenets and other writers identify with them choosing to take those statements and apply them to their poetry.


Lené Gary on the blog bite my manifesto suggests that in writing a personal manifesto you should invent a way to state:

1) why you write
2) what threatens your passion (ultimately, your writing life)
3) why you will continue to write against all odds

and suggests one should

  • Keep it under 250 words
  • Name your manifesto
  • Use strong language. Use verbs. Start some sentences with:  I will, It will, and It is
  • Try starting a sentence or two with I have decided
  • Give your manifesto a specific time frame
  • Include one personalized detail from your writing life. It could be your favorite pencil or the kind of journal you prefer. Maybe it’s the kind of music you play in the background when writing or the type of tea you sip before you work. The idea behind this suggestion is to create a very personal and tangible connection to your goal.
  • Identify the greatest threat to your passion (because passion fuels one’s creative force). Then, address in your manifesto how you will ameliorate that threat.
  • Think about why you write. Then, think about why you don’t write when you’re not writing.
  • Ask yourself, Why will I continue to write against all odds?


From Terry Tempest Williams’ essay, “Why I Write” ~

“I write myself out of nightmares and into my dreams. . . . I write to listen. . . . I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form words, to say words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient. . . . I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.”

From Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead ~

“To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten. To satisfy my desire for revenge. Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. Because to write is to take risks, and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive. To produce order out of chaos. To delight and instruct (not often found after the early twentieth century, or not in that form). To please myself. To express myself. To express myself beautifully. To create a perfect work of art. To reward the virtuous and punish the guilty; or—the Marquis de Sade defense, used by ironists—vice versa. To hold a mirror up to Nature. To hold a mirror up to the reader. To paint a portrait of society and its ills. To express the unexpressed life of the masses. To name the hitherto unnamed. To defend the human spirit, and human integrity and honor. To thumb my nose at Death. To make money so my children could have shoes.”

Or perhaps you consciously dislike the idea of any kind of manifesto, feel it is too structured or too political. You can write about that too. Here’s the beginning of a non-manifesto manifesto from Poetry.org:

Leave the Manifesto Alone: A Manifesto


The manifesto is dead. Manifestos are a flashing up of the spirit in a moment of desperate jubilation when the victory of the bourgeoisie is not yet a settled thing. Manifestos are the way the bourgeoisie fights the bourgeoisie in spastic fits, armed with bludgeon, scalpel, and luck. We will not celebrate the end of that era with you. It was not a poetic era, it was a political era. It is this history you wish to seal over with pseudo-celebrations.

Is not Poetry already a manifesto? The well-considered and the well-mannered, the lovely and the liberal, craft and progress: are these not already the manifesto of the bourgeoisie, smeared across every page, every minute of every day? It’s an aesthetic thing, Poetry answers as we fall asleep, choosing its poems as if you could choose who was worthy to shit on your grave. And in our dreams we see Poetry dance on the manifesto’s grave, in the vocabulary of open-mindedness and eclecticism, that bourgeois humanism which is nothing other than the pure hatred of revolution. …

Until now, I never consciously have come up with a personal manifesto but I invite you to consider whether your work fits into any of these poetic movements, or whether you have broken away and if so, how?  How would you state your personal manifesto? And what poem of yours would illustrate it? Write your response in prose or poetry and link to Mr. Linky. Respond to your fellow poets. It should be interesting to see what we come up with!

Here is how it works:

  • Write a manifesto poem and post it to your website/blog
  • Click Mr. Linky button below and enter your name and web address to your poem
  • There you will find others that participated, read them, tell them what you liked, a thought, a phrase that stood out
  • If you use social media, if you use @dversepoets we can find you and retweet, like etc.
  • Have fun.

© Gay Reiser Cannon * All Rights Reserved