In search of story

On writing: April 26.18


Well, dear reader, here it is Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day, and I have nothing for my pocket and nothing for yours. This year has been the first in several when I haven’t cared a lot about Poetry Month. It’s been one of those writer’s slumps which maybe you understand.

I can’t even figure out what poetry is, and am nearing the conclusion that poetry is such a subjective thing that there must be a different definition for each of us.

I often meet something called a poem but to me it seems like prose. Why is it a poem?

I try to use rhyme in my poems — if such they are — because I like the discipline imposed by rhyme. (I admit I also like the entertainment — trying to rhyme can be hilarious.) But I know that rhyme doth not a poem make.

I have read that the root of “poem” is a word meaning “to make.” That suggests that a poem is something deliberately crafted. I have heard that poetry is acoustic, that the sound of the words is part of its essence. I have heard that poetry captures a moment. But have you ever read Mark Twain’s descriptions of the Mississippi River? If those aren’t crafted and acoustic and immediate, nothing is. Yet they aren’t considered poetry.

Someone told me that if you think you’re a poet then you’re a poet. Really? That’s all there is to it?

So it all seems a bit ambiguous to me. I’d rather it weren’t.

Maybe I’m trying to define the undefinable. Maybe you get that, dear reader, and so I hope you have a poem for your pocket even if it isn’t from me.



4 thoughts on “On writing: April 26.18

  1. There are a lot of blogs that contain poets, poetry, prose, etc. I have shied away from all of them. Yours is the absolute only one I read. Why. Well, maybe because the base from which you write usually hits a soft spot for me. I can relate. You make me smile, and you make me think – both good things. I understand being at a loss for words because I tackle that issue frequently, but please keep writing because you would be greatly missed. I’d write you a poem at this point in the comment, but there’s no way I’d be able to get two lines to rhyme. 🙂

    • My brother wrote a poem in my autograph book, circa 1955, and it went like this: “Needles and pins, needles and pins/ skunks stink and so do you.” I think I’ve never quite recovered from that and have been confused about poetry ever since. I thank you for the compliment you give; you cannot know how huge that is. We do seem to share soft spots, don’t we?

  2. I always enjoy your writing, poetry, prose, whether it rhymes or not. I think what I enjoy most is your careful, considered word choice, and the thought that you put into your writing, which in turn makes me think. Part of that is trying to define the undefinable and occasional writer’s block, so I’ll echo Judy with my request to please keep writing. My internet reading would be a bleaker place without you.

    I’m not much of a writer myself, so I’ve got The Three Oddest Words by Wislawa Szymborska in my pocket today and am sharing it with you. (My apologies for the lack of rhyme.)

    When I pronounce the word Future,
    the first syllable already belongs to the past.

    When I pronounce the word Silence,
    I destroy it.

    When I pronounce the word Nothing,
    I make something no non-being can hold.

    • Oh, wow. Thank you, Bonny! That doesn’t have to rhyme to have impact. My legendary high school English teacher, John T. Muri, told us that a poem says a lot in a few words; by that criterion, “The Three Oddest Words” qualifies most surely as poetry. Thank you also for your encouragement; it means a lot. Writing is a most DIScouraging endeavor, it seems to me. Besides being grateful for your encouragement and your poem for my pocket, I am also very happy to hear from you because ever since I got this new computer I haven’t been able to figure out how to do the things I used to do, and that’s why I haven’t been able to keep up with your blog. I am sure any first-grader in the country could figure it out, but I can’t. I’ll get there again some day, I know, but for now I’m stumped. And really excited to hear from you! I hope all goes well for you and your garden and your boys and your fabulous creations!

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