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What makes a poem moving?

Dear neopoets,

Yesterday I shared one of my recent poems with an editor from a publishing house, reading it out loud to her, and she gave me some feedback that I never considered before. It went something like this:

"It feels like you are making it too obvious, writing things like 'I feel' in your verses - it's your poetry, of course the readers know this is you laying your feelings out into words. Try to be less obvious, to leave room for more interpretation. Tell readers more about what you see, not what you feel."

So what I would love to hear your thoughts on is... With modern poetry, does it feel like sometimes it is too obvious, too self-explanatory? Should there be more room for interpretation? I am writing this blog post because in my own poetry, I have this tendency to serve my feelings as they are, to focus on my inner motions. It's harder for me to describe or to allude to feelings or ideas indirectly.

What do you think?

What is the balance between describing and telling, between using a poet's voice as a power of self-expression or as a guide that more subtly reveals an underlying feeling?

I feel that this is a very deep line of reflection, and this precise balance might be what defines every poet's work.

Love to all,
Steph

Comments

Very thoughtful questions. Of course it is
subjective, all art is. But the editor had a
point. Poetry is putting the image, sound,
smell, taste or the touch in words ... and
causing the reader to experience it, which
is sometimes harder to do if the poem is
in "I" mode. Sometimes it is the difference
between poetry and prose, at least that is
what I've witnessed, but either can still be
so good it doesn't matter what "person" it
is written in.

cheers,
Richard

it is all true. I think what I didn't want to agree with is that describing one's own inner feelings could not arouse depth of feeling in the reader - which is just not the case.
It's down to the power of the voice, to the way the writer and the reader resonate on a deeper level of human existence - perhaps?

 

Love,
Steph

... to remember what it felt like to have my being set alight
beneath the moon when I was full and I was dancing with the night
when I could see beyond my sight
when I could see beyond my sight

author comment

Great points you have raised.
Is it where the poets makes you feel, instead of telling you what they feel.
If only we could write to that depth.
We have to see with the eyes of another and this is the hardest, though these writes are to me the best.
I think that a true biography of the writer should be available to all, then each work can be assessed on the message it gives or the feelings it portrays.
Hope this thread continues for a while it is really interesting.
Yours as always, Ian..

.
Give critique to help keep Neopoet great.
Unconditional love to you all.
"Learn to love yourself first"
Yours as always, Ian.T, Sparrow, and Yenti

the poet's job is to make us all feel, to make the readers feel. However, most of my favourite poems are written in first person and the poet's inner feelings shatter my own heart, and this is the effect my poetry has sometimes as well.
But yes, it's good to turn focus away from our own feelings and put ourselves in the skin of another, asking - what do they need to hear, to read, to feel?

 

Love,
Steph

... to remember what it felt like to have my being set alight
beneath the moon when I was full and I was dancing with the night
when I could see beyond my sight
when I could see beyond my sight

author comment

It is absolutely a balancing act. Especially since you are seeking publication, I think the editor's advice is sound. To publish your poetry you are definitively saying you want your audience to engage in the poems you've written (you want someone to buy and read your book). So in some ways, the poems stop being about you and become about how your feelings may influence the reader.

With that in mind, I think the first step is to write explicitly what you feel with lines that start with "I feel". Once you've figured out what you feel and what words represent that feeling, then you can start the process of revising the poem and figuring out how to give readers indirect hints about how you felt, so they can interpret it based on their own shared experiences or based on how your poem makes them feel. In other words, I find that starting with the concrete and direct gives me something solid that I can then transform into something more abstract or more open to interpretation.

Also, just like Richard and Ian suggested, using all the senses or showing the reader instead of telling them is also an excellent strategy that often makes the difference between poetry and prose. I try to use my blog here to make helpful articles and share resources I have found. Some of them might be useful! 

Check them out here: 

https://www.neopoet.com/swamp-witch/blogs

 

Hope this helps,

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

Thank you so much for the work you do in your blogging. I will definitely take a look. Also useful to hear your process of direct expression followed by abstraction - never applied things in such a structured way in my own poetry, so I do want - and need - to work with a more critical eye, since I do want to be published.

So all in all... show, don't tell, and give, don't just express.
Beautiful.

 

Love,
Steph

... to remember what it felt like to have my being set alight
beneath the moon when I was full and I was dancing with the night
when I could see beyond my sight
when I could see beyond my sight

author comment

I don't always approach things in such a structured way, but if I'm struggling with my poem and feel like I'm not saying what I need to say, I try that technique.

Kelsey :)

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment. Neopoet is a workshop and is designed to share your poetry, receive and make critique of the work posted, and most importantly, for you to evolve as a poet.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

A person can use "I" but in doing so you have to try and make the reader become the "I" in the poem. Sometimes I manage to do this and sometimes I fail. When I Do succeed in transferring the reader into the protagonist's shoes the response is usually good.

it's like
I am writing for myself only
to hell with the reader kind!

Since you are publishing a poetry book
firstly it's my experience
mainly minuscule buy most desire a free gift
so your first print will cost you
your fortune '
that what you want to make

My master here all know him
has taught me
never to be self- indulgent
praise seeking b*******d
which secretly I admit I wanted to be
else why compose poetry.

But then one must have a wider audience
I have read you
perhaps you have read one or two.

So when you place your self in the market
and the Editor wants to help in marketing your works
then the Lady is bold more
and abs right listen to her .

on another site they say

''show don't tell
let the reader find out o what the hell
like an example
read one/two lines below

''hahaahaha
I won the scarlet scarf
I was the only one to win
you know...''
OR
''In the competition
many came around
good ones better too
but who won
can you just believe!!!!

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