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What style is this? Is it even poetry?

Jeannie 10 / 214  
Sep 18, 2009   #1
I write stuff. I have never taken a poetry class in my life, so I have no idea what style it is that I am writing; I just write stuff. Can y'all tell me what this style is called? I just call it prose poetry because I have no idea...is it even poetry?

Thanks for your insight,

Bird School

Today I watched the birds play. I watched them teach, I watched them dive and flutter just above the waves. I watched the babies learn to swoop the crests and point down toward the school. I heard the chatter and the laughter and the joy. I heard them sing and I held back my tears. I saw the prism of the sun as through a marble caught inside my eye, and I laughed with them, remembering.


The cold-white warmth of the Mother
lays its silky breath on me
showing me how to rest for now
I ache as I grow
She heals me
she feeds me
My arms twitch and pitch and fall and rise
in the quakes of Mother
strengthening me
She tells me to rest
I am resting
Her creatures play and romp
they smooth my hair and tickle my skin
they are gentle and kind
I rest


Salty water in my ear
I hear the sound of my own heartbeat
the breeze is amplified ~swoosh~
along with the sound of the waves chasing the birds back
The sound of the wind through the parched sea grass
and turtle eggs hatching the peeping of tiny toads
A summer symphony


Nighttime in my garden of lusty sound
newborn lizards and frogs peeping
tomatoes with growing pains, four new babies
three almost ready to pick!
The moon is so faded and still through the foggy air up there
a luminous rainbow appears around its fat and happy globe
rain again or just new glasses?
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 18, 2009   #2
Yeah, these definitely qualify as poems, which, now that "poetry" has become a catchall term for virtually any creative non-prose work, doesn't mean as much as it used to. Still, your imagery is good. If you want to improve, try studying meter. Really, meter is the core of poetry, and while you may decide not to use meter once you know it, you really should know it if you plan to be a poet, even if you only plan on being a poet for yourself.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Sep 18, 2009   #3
I never heard of "meter," thanks! See? Now I have somewhere to start! Yay! I have to go a'googlin' now; see you in a bit.

I really appreciate your help. I doubt I will ever be "A Poet," but I like to learn, and "what style..." has been a burning question. I am glad I found this site!

By the way, Sean, I called my writing "prose poetry," and I noticed that you call it non-prose, by which I think you mean it is not written in grammatically correct prose??

What was poetry before the non-prose? Can you give me some examples of old poetry before it was corrupted...so to speak? I would like to see.

The only poetry I knew about before getting old enough to write my thoughts down were more rhyming poems (I do write a mean limerick, haha! and I dabble in basic haiku 5-7-5), but I still felt there was something missing...so I added me to it. Like this one; it rhymes but it is not so annoyingly sing-songy, ya know? (yes, I am aware of the corniness, haha!)Thanks again!


Tiny, shiny eyes that speak the Truth
That only Angels and God can hear
That whisper to lovers to come near
That call so softly "if you dare"
That rain in lovely sparkles dear
The stars in the night cannot compare
To the love that shines from thee (I absolutely hate this last line...sounds like a Hallmark card for Pete's sake! :) I'll fix it one day...)


OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Sep 18, 2009   #4
Wow! OK, let's start slowly. There are stressed and unstressed syllables, hmmm, ok. I highlighted what I meant to be stressed syllables in this example of my writing...this is so involved! It will take me years, but do I have the stressed syllable down?

Blue-eyed Sky

I thought it was a blizzard, but I was wrong.
I didn't know then that they were the teardrops of Angels,
frozen prisms of colorful laughter,
the ultimateexpression of joy for she who had joined them.

Crazy complicated, but cool! 'Ever watch a baby being born? Ha! I will try not to trouble you until I have read some more and have a clue. Thanks.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 18, 2009   #5
Your first one is, I believe. Prose poetry is a particular genre, though, that blends narrative prose with an attention to imagery and metaphor. If you break it up into lines to make it look like a poem, it just becomes free verse.

Poetry used to be pretty much all metrical. In fact, the use of meter was pretty much what made something a poem. The meter and the rhyme scheme (if any) were largely what determined what type of poem a poem was. Blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) was very popular, as it is the closest meter to regular speech. Sonnets and ballads tended to have set meter and rhyme schemes, and so on. The main skill in poetry was in finding a way to express your thoughts in your chosen meter while making it sound as natural as possible and still using strong imagery throughout. Meter began falling out of favor a century or so ago. Originally, this was just a reaction against the Victorians, who had pretty much got meter down pat, and manifested a desire for creative freedom on the part of the Moderns, who still used and understood meter, just not with strict regularity.

In any event, a good poet controls the rhythm of her words, and this requires some study of meter, even if you never want to write a particularly metrical poem. Getting stress patterns down is difficult, especially since a meter can make certain syllables stressed that normally wouldn't be. Here is an example of a poem written in iambic tetrameter:

The wrink led sea beneath him crawls ; / He watch es from his mount ain walls , / And like a thun derbolt he falls .

Notice that the meter here is so clear you can sing-song it if you want, though you absolutely should not sing-song metrical poetry unless you are deliberately trying to mock it.

Some trochaic poetry (really just iambic in reverse):

Ty ger, ty ger, burn ing bright / in the for ests of the night

Some anapestic poetry:

Twas the night before Christ mas, when all through the house / Not a crea ture was stir ring, not e ven a mouse .

You can probably hear the difference in rhythm in that one. Anapests are very distinctive.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Sep 18, 2009   #6
Sean's taste in poetry are conservative. It's good to study meter and the like, but you should also expose yourself to new trends in poetry. Are you in the States? There's an excellent new anthology called American Hybrid, which offers a broad selection of contemporary poetry in all its myriad forms.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 18, 2009   #7
Sean's taste in poetry are conservative.

Yes, yes, they are. Still, the poetry I like was written by people who made a living writing it. Does anyone writing contemporary poetry manage to make a living doing solely that anymore? And is there maybe a reason for that? Without meter, poetry largely becomes "writing whatever you want with disregard for grammar," or "bad prose," as it would be called if presented in any other form. I grant the importance of imagery, metaphor, and other poetic techniques, but of course the metrical poets used the same things, only under more constraints, and so of necessity with more skill.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Sep 18, 2009   #8
Yes, Sean, thanks for those examples!

Simone, thanks, I will look for that anthology. Does it actually tell you what style the poems are, or is it just a book of differently styled poetry?

Thanks for your help!
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Sep 20, 2009   #9
Does it actually tell you what style the poems are, or is it just a book of differently styled poetry?

There's an introduction discussing recent trends in poetry, and then there is a brief introduction before each poet's work, explaining how the poet and/or critics see that poet's work.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Sep 25, 2009   #10
Skydiver's Prayer

Write my soul in the clouds
Lay it bare for Truth to see
Find me worthy of the light I've gathered
Left by Angels who've flown with me

And on their wings I'll ride
Till dest iny calls me 'round
A time so short and sweet is done
As I flut ter to the ground

This totally baffles me. It seams as though the first part of my poem is free-verse, but the second is iambic. Am I getting close to "hearing" the rhythm?

I know I am being a bit needy (because I am...), but I do appreciate your teaching!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 26, 2009   #11
Write my soul in the clouds
Lay it bare for Truth to see
Find me wor thy of the light I've ga thered
Left by An gels who've flown with me

And on their wings I'll ride
Tilldes tinycalls me 'round
A time so short and sweet is done
As Iflu tter to the ground

Something like that. A lot of the smaller words, pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions can change a bit, depending upon the meter around them. The poem seems to be mostly iambic. Bear in mind that few poems use wholly regular meter, as that leads to a sing-song that can be more humorous than the poet wants.
aznpoo 7 / 23  
Oct 6, 2009   #12
beautiful poem. I agree with the previous poster.
There is a rhythm and a great sense of imagery. I too want to know what is / are a "meter" is it a type of measurement for syllables?

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