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Pattern in Nature Photo: V, Slotto

Poetry-a Piece of Written Art

We are aware, no doubt, that poetry is considered to be one of the arts. But consider that fact that it is in a manner both visual and aural, written art in its own right. It appeals to the artistic sense of the reader who sees the imagery created through description or form and who hears the repetition of sound through an array of poetic devices such as rhythm (meter, feet, stanzas…) and tone (consonance, assonance, dissonance…).

In our current form challenge, the Pantoum, we are working with both structure and repetition—techniques much like pattern in visual art. This form, and others which will soon be on our “to write” list, all turn to these artistic tools. So, let’s don our smocks, gather brushes and paints, and prop up a blank canvas on the easel, as we look at repetition: why and how to choose the lines or words we will repeat.

What does repetition add to the poem?

Most often as we prepare to write a poem, there lurks deep in our consciousness or maybe floating on the surface, a message that had meaning to us and that we want to communicate to our reader. It could be as complex as an emotion or a socially significant issue or as simple as the beauty we find in a moment of time. Repetition is a tool that is much gentler than a hammer with which to drive home the point we want to make.

The use of auditory sounds helps the words or phrases stick with the reader, much like those tunes that create earworms that drive us to distraction—think “It’s a Small World”—the song that keeps on giving a message that wants to be heard.

Repeating a word or line underlines the importance of that word or line. Often all the other lines or words in the poem build on the repeated line or word—giving the poet a springboard in which to dive into developing the rest of the work.

Choosing the Line/Word

Because of the variances in rhyme and meter in the Pantoum and the other forms we will encounter in future prompts, I won’t discuss those issues here, except to say that it is critical to choose the line or lines that conform to the prescribed form. For many of us, poems are conceived when a line tackling the chosen subject pops into being. Those lines are gifts. Don’t we all wonder at times how they came into being?

Here are a few specific suggestions for choosing lines:

  • Begin with something simple, a line that avoids multisyllabic words in the extreme.
  • If applicable, end words that have a good number of rhyming choices work best. I use rhymezone.com and focus on words that offer multiple, meaningful choices.
  • Ask how you can manipulate the line(s) or word(s) to create subtle changes.
  • Consider where you might use enjambment to startle the reader a bit.
  • Are there any opportunities for wordplay techniques?
  • Does the line state or imply the underlying message of your poem?

Now, Just Do It

For those of us who have been struggling with the Pantoum, or who have given up on it completely, let’s hop back on the diving board and take a wild leap.

Gina’s prompt for the Pantoum will be open for another two weeks. Please join us.

For dVerse, this is Victoria Slotto, stopping by with a guest post, and happy to be with you today.