This week Araceli Esparza gives us her top six tips on incorporating poetry into prose. Whether you’re looking for some serious advice to push your writing forward or a light-hearted bit of fun, this post has exactly what you’re looking for. And if you like her take on it, be sure to check out Bill Kennedy’s post from earlier this month.
Art shows us what we do not know in ways that we had not considered. Poetry tries to say more and more in a language that is ever becoming more precise. Poetry is about learning about success, triumphs, failures, secrets, and teachings. Poetry is meant to inspire our next generation. Poetry can’t just be an afterthought in your prose. It’s an essential strategy for you to communicate the POV of this generation- your audience.
Your audience is fully engaged in the arts. Through visual poetry or audio, youth know about poetry without ever really studying it.
Poetry in our prose is the hope, laughter, vision, and the mirror of our audience. Poetry challenges the world they cannot control, and when you are writing for them, you have to understand this. Poetry can help you get there.
Stuck with your chapter? Try the following poetry tips.
Tip 1: Pick a character and write their backstory in one sentence verses by hitting the enter key at the end of your margin or sentence. Make each sentence a brave statement of the character. Give voice for their hopes and dreams; get vulnerable with your character. You are not meant to explain it all in that moment. A good phrase will awaken your senses to places that you never gone, smell things that you have never tasted.
Take a risk, let go and write like you just don’t care.
Tip 2: Use a container. Draw a circle and write only in that circle. More practical choice is to contain the emotion in one hard and fast sentence. Don’t let meter intimidate you, it’s algebra for words. It’s a container used to make your words work.
Free verse isn’t free, it’s the air that we breathe, it’s the fullest potential of our wit and wisdom. I chose free verse because I have found that tagging one sentence is easier than to reveal it in a paragraph. So it does have a container, but it’s one that is invented on fly, it may or may not follow a pattern and can break from that pattern.
Tip 3: Use a prompt. Get off the keyboard and grab a couple of sheets of paper and a pen and write long hand. A personal fav’s: I remember when…. (keep the hand moving for 10-20 minutes)
Tip 4: Now write with your non-dominate hand for 5-7 minutes. HA! I told you this was fun! When you write poetry, you write on your own wave of writing. Which is why timed writing works. Write until you find your aha metaphor.
Voila you are a poet!
Tip 5: Drink a bottle of Merlot! And try to write! Guaranteed proven results!
Tip 6: Read a lot of poetry, and then write. Here is an exercise I did for my poetry and yoga class: First, I read the following poem out load.
Still I Rise – Poem by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Final Act: Then I followed up with the following prompt; How do I rise up?
Write down this: You may write me down in history as ______________.
Finish this sentence and allow yourself to be taken to the sky where you can look at your inner beauty from afar, admire it, describe it, indulge in it, dance with yourself and write yourself out so we can see you too. Write without apology, filters, or explanations for 15 minutes. Think about what normally might be seen as nuances can actually be a place of resilience and strength.
Much of what I wrote I gleamed or was inspired by this lovely poetry workshop video I found on YouTube.
Araceli Esparza is 2014 alum, poet, teacher, and future picture book author. You can follow her at @WI_MUJER.