Posted by: Viola | May 4, 2014

Writing poetry that moves

When I am not writing poetry, I love to think about the writing of it. One thing I have gathered about the writing of poetry is that poetry must move. The words move across the page. And the poem moves down the page. The narrative in the poem moves from start to finish. The emotions and insights evolve. The whole poem is a microcosm of constant movement. Beyond the visible/visual and tangible movement of the poem, the poem then has to make another kind of movement, a leap from the poet to the reader. The poem has to move the reader. It is not sufficient for the poem to only move the poet; it must also be able to move the reader. The poem might move the reader to tears, or laughter. It might bore the reader and move her to anger, or perplex the reader and move him to confusion. Ideally, the poem moves the reader to feel, sense, see something memorable, pleasurable, enjoyable, insightful, or unsettling, something worth talking to others about, something that makes the poem worth sharing with others and worth reading multiple times. At best, I think, the poem could move the reader to want to say something to the poet, say to the poet that the poem made sense and thank you. I think this is the hard part about poetry, the part where the poet goes beyond herself and seeks out a way to reach a reader, connect to that reader, say something that will resonate with the reader. Some of it must be subtle, must be done without too much intention, done with innocence and tenderness, because the goal is not to grab a reader and beat the reader endlessly with a concept or a narrative. The goal is not to force or compel the reader to abandon everything she believes in. The goal is an invitation. The goal is to invite the reader into a place–the sacred space of the poem itself–where it is OK for the reader to open up her senses, feel safe enough to do so, feel free to feel something new. A poem that can do this is a poem that moves.


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