Saturday, April 19, 2014

What makes a poem? (Catsi's Version)

The difference between prose and poetry is pretty obvious when you’re reading it. It becomes less so when you try to explain it.

“Well, poems rhyme,” says a boy that I know. (He’s not a poetry fan.) Sure, some poems rhyme. But many others don’t. Rhythm? Yes, most poems have a set rhythm. But is that really what a poem is? A rhythm?

I think it’s safe to say that the emotion is different in a book and in a poem. A novel is meant to produce emotion. A poem pretty much is emotion.

The best poems that I’ve written have come from pure emotion. When I’m just so happy, or so lonely, or so bitter, that there’s nothing left to do but put the feeling into a poem. They don’t normally rhyme, and, though I try to stick to a rhythm, it doesn’t always go well.

I think that’s how you write poetry. You put emotion into words.

Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. Often times when I’m writing a poem, I spend more time chewing on my pencil, or flipping through a thesaurus, or banging my head against the keyboard, than I do actually writing. And, as is the case with all of my writing, I use the backspace key more than anything else.

But don’t worry about stuff like syllable count or rhyming or rhythm right off the bat. When you first sit down to write a poem, just get out your emotion. Don’t spend forever looking for the perfect word for that sentence. Just write.

I could try to tell you about all the different kinds of poems, and how to write each one. I’m not sure that would go too well, though, because the kinds of poems that I know about are Poems That Rhyme and Poems That Don’t Rhyme. (Okay, yeah, I know more than that. I know about haiku and limericks because Elisabeth posted about them.)

Most of the poems that I write are free verse. Meaning, I don’t worry about anything except the emotion going into the poem. They usually have a bit of rhythm to them, but they rarely rhyme. But there’s something about well-written free verse poems that is so beautiful, so emotional. I think it’s that there really is nothing else to the poem but emotion. It’s not the words that are in the spotlight—it’s what the author was feeling while writing it.

There are lots of different emotions you can play in a poem. Some poems are just meant to be funny, to make you laugh out loud. Some are angry poems, and you can actually feel how upset the writer was. And then there are the sad poems. The ones that actually make you tear up.

Be creative, and have fun. Poetry isn’t something to stress about. Your first poem won’t be perfect. Mine wasn’t. Mine still aren’t. But with practice, they’ll get better. And you might find that poetry is the best way for you to get out your emotions.

It’s a funny feeling
knowing that you’re losing

I tried so hard to hold on to
is gone

I’ve lost it all
but somehow
I think I’ve
a new kind of

Found, by Catsi Eceer

Any questions or comments? Just want to chat about poetry? Say something in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. :) (<-- Look, a smiley face. I am a human, see?)


  1. CATSI THIS IS FANTASTIC! This was so wonderful. :) You've expressed it so well, what a poem is. Yes, it is emotion. A poem is how we say things that cannot be expressed in words, because the words are not what are important, but rather, what they express, which is deeper than the dictionary meaning of them.

    Wonderful post, Catsi. This was beautiful.