Notice: Some information and poetry for this series of poetry lessons is taken from Fundamentals of Poetry by William Leahy, published by Kenneth Publishing Company, Box 11120 , St. Petersburg, FL 33733, 1987 Edition, Copyright 1963. Unless otherwise noted, all specific examples and poems in this series are from this book.
This the fourth part of this series, and you are asking, "When are we going to get started?" This is not going to cover the technically aspects and terms of poetry. There is more of that to come. We have been getting started, whether or not you realized it. There is a process for writing that I believe to be used for all types of writing, and i can say that from a teacher's point of view. From a speech to a book report, a short story to a poem, all specialized writing strategies are derived from a basic writing process with five phases or steps that are inter-related. In class I have these steps on poster in a big circle with red arrows between each step pointing both directions. The word "Think" is in yellow type in a blue center ball.
Prewriting is getting your ideas together, organizing them, and putting them into a order that is flexible. There are dozens of strategies to get the prewriting stage started. The inspiration section is one part of the prewriting. Once you have a idea, then focus into one topic for your poem List your ideas, especially in a journal or note pad. Discuss your ideas with others. This often helps if your counterpart really takes your efforts to write seriously. If you don1t know enough about a topic, do some basic research. It doesn't have to be a research paper, and encyclopedias on cd-roms and other internet sources are available if you have a computer.
One good prewriting is to use mapping, a series of webs , or clusters of circles that represent your ideas. If bees are your subject, a circle with the word "Bee" inside. Draw two more circles and connect them to the "Bee" circle. Write "Enemies" in one of divisions, and "Kinds" in the other division. Brainstorming can reveal three subdivisions of "Enemies" - "Bears", "Insects" and "Skunks" How about a poem with a skunk gather honey from a bee hive? Divide all subgroups to your satisfaction. You have a "map" of your ideas. Pick one of these circle and start another web, limiting your topic further.
Take all your ideas and concepts and put them in a workable, pliable draft. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. If writing on paper, write on every other line. If using a computer to typesetting device, be sure to read over your material as you go along, and make corrections in thoughts to make sure everything makes sense However, spelling, punctuation, usage and other mechanics of grammar can be corrected by the machine, or and editor further in the writing process. If using electronic media, be sure to save your work as you go along, or rewrites become difficult if all your work is lost due to a sudden power surge.
Revising is taking a careful look at your first draft, and to make is clearer, stronger and more understandable. This means changing words and lines, adding or deleting entire stanzas, keeping in mind your original purpose of your poem. Technical aspects are considered, too, to create a style of poem. One way to to this is to read your poem out loud to a friend. This forces you to became the messenger in the communication process, not the creator, and the listener becomes the reader. Use your friend1s idea to make your poem clearer.
Proofreading is the technical process to check for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, poetry form, and grammar. One poet, E.E. Cummings, did strange things to poetry and punctuation and structure, but this was done for a purpose. He knew how to put a poem together first before the rules were broken. Use all resources to get the correct word (you already know the power of words), and take advantage of computerized spelling and grammar checking programs. Built in thesaurus are great to use, too. Make all changes to your first draft.
What if your ideas change while you are writing the poem in this process. Good! Change it. Go back to your prewriting ideas. You may just want to start all over. That's okay, but always use the writing process as you make your changes. A first draft will yield to a second or third draft before your are satisfied with your final results. Sometimes, a cooling of period is needed, a week or so, to let your mind get back to reality. Then go back to your poem with a fresh, uncluttered mind.
Publishing is your best work. Your final draft. This poem is you, or at least a tiny part of you. It has your name on it. This is what people will see when you start the publishing process (see the section in the web site about how to get published). At least you have a poem. Congratulations. Now write another one, and other, and.....
There are those poets who want to keep there work to themselves. That's okay too. Not all writing needs to be shared. Your poems can be a sort of diary of your inner thoughts, and the words are meant to kept private.