What Is Poetry?

When defining poetry, the best definition comes from Poetry.org.

“…an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose.”

This is what a lot of students who are in creative writing classes fail to understand when they move onto the poetry section of their course. Most students struggle to create rhymes and tell a coherent story from beginning to end. With poetry, that is not a necessary condition.

There are many ways to structure poetry, which we will define in later blogs dedicated to definitions. There are many literary devices that are also used in poetry, again which we will define later. But the most important thing to take away from this article is to understand that poetry is not about the meaning of the words but art in which you can create with them.

Story writing is a form of using language to create art, but poetry is about taking the words themselves and making art, whether it be by using words that “look” weird, sound weird, having matching sounds such as consonants or vowel tones. Sometimes the string of words put together does not make logical sense in terms of the meaning of the words yet upon hearing them make art.

Art itself is subjective. Writing poetry is not to please the audience but to please the author. When writing poetry start with words that resonate with you. Have you ever heard a word spoken out loud and it sent shivers down your spine? Write that word down and use it as inspiration. Find other words that make you feel a certain way. Put them into a paragraph. Congratulations, you’ve written poetry.