Poetry: Part 1 Words and emotion

A friend of mine expressed their sadness at a friend’s passing and lamented the fact that they never got to tell that friend how they really felt about them.

When I tried, and failed, to express my sympathies, I ended up sitting in front of my computer composing a poem (half poem, half lyric).  It’s kind of ironic that I chose poetry to express what I could not in words.

It’s a conundrum. I could not express my feelings in the normal patterns of speech, but the same words that failed me, opened the door to a very deep expression of what I was feeling.

That is what poetry is about.

Whether you choose alliteration, allusion, illusion, similes or metaphors; whether you sing it, say it or leave it to be read: the root of all poetry is emotion.

It conveys emotion, it evokes emotion. One of my favorite modern poets is Sarah Kay.  She’s a slam poet/spoken word poet… she’s a writer.  Listening to her poems, she can make me laugh, cry and simply nod my head knowingly … all in the same poem.

This is what poetry is.

Let’s take a look at a series of phrases:

Deep dark depression, dressed in basic black
sorrow stands in a black dress
sorrow stands, a black dress for us to wear
a black dress sits where the sun once shone
She stands, her sorrow wrapped around her like a black dress

The first line was from a journal I kept for a creative writing class.  I liked it because the alliteration tickled the ear.  There is no emotion behind it – just something nebulous: enough to give you a hint of things to come.  The other lines, I just wrote for this post based on the teacher’s advice to “let depression be a black dress.”

She was a lot more about metaphors, than I was at that time, but think about it: each line gives us a slightly different feel, evokes something (if I’m doing my job right) on a subconscious level.  It can either make you think, or make you feel.

And the interesting thing is… every person reading these lines, will take away something different.  Copy them.  Think about what they say to you, and then… write how you would say the same thing.

My feelings on the lines are as follows:

Deep dark depression, dressed in basic black   I’m getting a description.  The depression isn’t calling attention to itself – it’s in ‘basic black’ – not a blue-black, or an iridescent black – just your generic black.  It feels like it’s waiting for something.

sorrow stands in a black dress Here, we have another emotion, just standing there. To me it feels like the sorrow is all dressed up and waiting for a place to go.
sorrow stands, a black dress for us to wear Here I get more involved.  The dress is there for me to put on.  Sorrow has overtaken us and its something we have to willingly put on.

a black dress sits where the sun once shone

With this line it feels like the black dress has replaced the sun.  I haven’t said what the black dress is, but there is something dark to wear that has taken the place of the sunlight.

She stands, her sorrow wrapped around her like a black dress This line is another descriptive line, but it’s talking about, and comes out and says, that She, whoever she is, is wearing her sorrow… that makes me feel like she’s owning it.  It hasn’t overtaken her, but something she’s wearing like a badge of honor.

Play around with the words and phrases.  See what emotions they evoke if any, and then try and evoke them yourself.

Try on that dress.  Tell me what you feel wearing it.

Until next time.

July 17, 2013


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