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How To Write A Poem

by Allen Taylor

How To Write A Poem addresses the art of writing poetry using images of painting. Written in the Postmodern style without rhyme and focusing on the words and ideas within, the poem seems to add elements of Romanticism and Modernism into the mix as well.

The repetition of certain words, the consonance and occasional internal rhyme and even the references to spiritual concepts all add to the flavor and tone of the poem to make it about more than just the art of poetry, but about the act of writing itself.

    Take your heart out. Empty its Contents upon a thin sheet Of paper. With the five fingers Of your leftmost hand Smear the debris across the canvass Like mud. You are painting With words, the words Of your soul. Take your right hand and employ it as a brush. Smooth the painted pics Into something coherent, some thing Cognizant. Pretend you are Da Vinci With a tinge of Bruegel Casting peasants in colorful villages. After crafting your world From humble beginnings Remove your brain from its castle. Set it aside for now. Align the skull of your mind’s living room With your poem in the raw. Spread your painted words along The walls inside. Place your brain again Upon its perch, Lock it in. Then wait seven days. Allow the words To seep into your brain Like oil oozes into soil. Then pull your heart from behind Its shield. Set it upon a hard surface And bludgeon it to a pulp. Wring it dry of all discomfort. Let it bleed your words like ink And they will ruminate, breathe on their own. Watch them migrate like a grand scheme You cannot control. When they complete their dance, Caress them with gentle strokes Of your paintbrush. Cull Them of all sanctity And quell any lifeless prose. You now have your sacred work of art As ordered In all its divine purity.
How To Write A Poem surprises us with careful attention to words, and not necessarily beautiful words. Oil, soil, debris, seep, bludgeon, pulp – all are words that make it seem like a difficult and painful process. Yet, at the end of the poem we discover that the anguish is rewarding. After all, the finished product is divine and pure.

The juxtaposition of the drudgery to the completed “sacred work of art” gets to the heart of what poetry is all about, namely, a discovery of what it is like to be human, to know, to feel and to create.

Listen to me read How To Write A Poem:

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