Poetry is freedom. Poetry is emotion. Poetry will always be whatever you choose for it to be.
It is hard to define poetry because poetry can be anything you want it to be. It can be one word placed in the middle of a page. It can be fifteen pages long if you want it to be. There has to be rhythm but does there have to be rhyme? I used to believe this. That poetry had to rhyme but now I have opened my eyes and my mind and now I really stand by the statement that poetry can be anything you want it to be.
I have been writing poetry since the age of five. It is something that I naturally do. The voice in my head creates metaphors, phrases and rhymes. I write them all down and create something wonderful that describes my feelings, my thoughts and my emotions. Each poem I write is another snapshot image of a memory of mine, a piece of writing that paints a picture, words that capture my interpretations of the world.
Although my Creative Writing course includes a poetry module, I strongly believed that poetry should not be taught. I found the module to be pointless and a little bit tedious at times. I didn’t want to learn about poetics, I just wanted to write poetry! I thought it was a waste of time until my teacher’s reaction to my work persuaded me to change the way I write my poetry and I am glad she did. My poetry teacher blatantly told us that we couldn’t write poems that rhymed for our portfolios. What? I was in disbelief… I have been writing poetry for about fifteen years and more times than not, I used rhyme. Of course this surprised me, I went against her wishes and wrote the poems that I wanted to write. I then showed her the first draft of my collection and she quite literally crossed them out and muttered ‘too many cliches’, ‘too many rhymes’, ‘I don’t like that.’ That’s her opinion of course and this is why I believed that poetry should not be taught. The marking is too subjective. How can one poem be compared to another?
However, sometimes people have to be cruel to be kind and I took my poetry collection away and tried to write something different to prove her wrong. I started to write my second drafts, I removed some of the rhymes and cliches, I played around with different styles, line breaks and formations and recreated my portfolio. I definitely surprised her when I received my final mark, not only did I receive a high mark but also a comment that it was good enough to be published. Okay, so maybe I was wrong. Poetry can be taught. Kind of. Or maybe not. It was her opinion that pushed me to change my poetry but she did not teach me what was right from wrong. I think my point is that a writer can be taught and guided to improve their craft but it is a different thing entirely to say that one poem is the right way to write poetry and another poem is the wrong way. I still write rhyming poems but the strong opinions of my lecturer’s taste pushed me to try something different and step out of my comfort zone. I still use rhyme in some of my poetry but now I have the confidence to write poetry that is a little bit more original… and that is a great lesson I learned on a module that I originally didn’t believe should exist.