Monday, November 26, 2007


My poems have been published in six different journals so far. I sense that poetry is my strength, even though I am laboring through a second novel. It is difficult to do both. Writing a novel requires description and detail, and you can write hundreds of pages to your satisfaction. Whereas the skill in writing poetry is to tell the most in the briefest way, to edit to only the most crucial words and still retain the essence of the poem. Many writers do both, but a complete shift in creative thinking is necessary and I have trouble switching gears! When I'm doing one I miss the other.

I didn't start writing poetry until I was in my thirties and I only started sending them out a couple years ago. My first poems came completely as a surprise to me. I did not read poetry and I knew nothing about poetry. It just started flowing out of my emotions and into my pen. I stayed up nights searching for words to express my angst. A little navy notebook full of ideas and words went everywhere with me. I had no intentions of sharing any of my poems as they were just an exercise in catharsis. When I did share some of them with a man I was dating he said they frightened him and he thought I was crazy. That didn't discourage me. I liked the fact that they had the power to make someone think that. I liked that the poems weren't ordinary. They were unique - good or bad - they were me.

In time I took classes and got feedback from very successful poets and learned what was considered "good" poetry. I attempt to write "good" poetry, but I do not censor myself. The words that enter my mind, and the ideas the poems convey, I believe, are coming from a sacred and personal place inside of me, and it's distasteful to me to consider them "wrong".

I do understand, however, that poems are not meant to be platforms for opinions or lectures. They are not meant to tell the reader something as much as they convey a brief slice of life, and hopefully something the reader can relate to. ( I do have an entire notebook full of poems that probably only I can relate to - I keep those to myself. . .)

Publications are each looking for different types of poems and you must send your offerings in accordance with what they are looking for or you're just wasting your time. There are hard and fast rules to submitting your work, such as - always enclose a self-addressed-stamped-envelope. I recently sent some out and forgot to include my SASE. I got a snotty reply by email saying my poems were in the trash because of that. I wrote back and said that I simply forgot, I was not a poetry ignoramous, and in the time she sent her snotty reply by email she could have actually read the poems. (I didn't use the word snotty though).

I've posted about 10 poems so far on this blog - often the ones that might not have any other home. Let me know what you think sometime.
Poetry is a language at its most distilled and most powerful. Rita Dove
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. Oscar Wilde

1 comment:

Edna said...

Diane, I just only now realized that I had not posted any comment about your poetry. I have to tell you that it is only in my later years that I have come to appreciate the purpose of poetry. It is like a mystical experience which you can't really put into words. When I first read St. John of the Cross I didn't really understand why he had written his famous poems. But in poetry you try, and in effect you are attempting to share with others the feelings and insights that you alone experience. I think that your poetry is very special and I have wondered myself as I read it, as to whether it was your major "strength".
Thanks for sharing your story about how you started to write poetry. Fascinating!
Did you see my recent post on your blog, where you list the 10 things that are wrong?