Why Write Poetry?
Australia is rich in unsung home poets, journallers and writers who write for the love of it, whether we will ever be published or no.
We still call it writing, even though much of it happens at keyboards.
I write because words are in me and they rise up. I I delight to craft words, be they in an email to a friend, or in a sestina which batters both hemispheres of my brain with its demanding structure.
Not to work with written words in some fashion, is to switch off a part of me.
What about you?
For me this is a no-brainer: God creates, people are made in his image (though marred), ergo we are creative beings too. If you want to leave out a creator God, your foundational story for why humans love to create will likely be more complex.
For some of us, the creative urge is satisfied by writing, seasoned perhaps with a little gardening, music or other crafts.
However creativity shows itself, it's there, we love it and need to nurture it.
Poetry is my favourite corner of the writing pie. Perhaps this began from reading and re-reading AB Paterson's and Henry Lawson's collected works, as a primary school kid desperate to devour any book with horses on the front cover.
Lately I have been distracted from writing poems, by the adventure of learning to
read Koine Greek and rediscovering the Bible in an old language.
Poems out loud
Some authors speak their work as well as writing it.
There's even a theory that poetry is meant to be spoken. For many centuries, people have revelled in poetry and song, whether they read or not. If you create poems to be heard: go for it.
admire performance poets, but I have no desire to join them. I delight in silent reading and quiet reflection.
Sometimes poems rely on a reader's eye, not a listener's ear. There is a play on words, homonyms or punctuation that is missed if the poem is only heard. Other works are best brought to life in sound and action by a skilled reader, perhaps with video or a picture book. There's room for all.
Poems for cash
Competitions of all sorts somehow became part of Western lifestyle. There are plenty of poetry competitions. There is advice online about which ones are dependable, which are likely to be fraudulent.
I've sent poetry in to writing competitions and occasionally gained a prize. I stopped for several reasons - like constantly forgetting deadlines for the 'right' competition for this or that poem. Main cause was my own weakness: over-keen to win, I would rework and distort poems to please an imaginary judge. My tension chewed the life out of the work. Other poets might face similar temptation.
One downside to most competitions I entered, was the lack of feedback.
Often you don't know what judges are looking for before you enter; that is more like entering a lottery than a competition. You might never find out afterwards how they selected the winners, or whether your poem made it past the first cut. You might not even get to read the winning works. What then is the benefit of entering? How does the competition improve entrants' writing skills or confidence?
Opinions vary on poetry's status as a sellable commodity. There is a reliable market in my area for local writers' works. If you are keen to convert words to $, research the prospects for your own genre and your own target audience. Don't be too easily put off by the doom & gloomers.
Professional writing is a sphere that has been heavily infected by the loud and self-righteous censorship of political correctness and cancel culture. If poets don't write to the script, it is a brave judge or publisher or reviewer that awards due honour to even their most praiseworthy work.
A conceivably right wing poem that I wrote while Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, won a small competition some years ago. I went to the presentation day and read the poem out. The listeners' frowns and frozen silence said it all! This was merely a light humorous work in bush verse, surely the appropriate medium for poking a little political fun without censure.
The early great bush poets would not have hesitated to lampoon today's power-hungry, censorious hypocrites in far more savage verse.
In my view there's a ream of poetry waiting to be written, to reveal truth and redeem our land from woke anti-culture; and that's a great reason to write.