Press "Enter" to skip to content

Of poets and poetry

Dear Editor,

There are no primers or handbooks for poets. They are few in number but will find their way. The poetical are infinitely more numerous than any but print editors suspect.

The textbooks on prosody, once they’ve explained the nature of quantity, meter, and rhyme, are of no value. The elaborate treatments given to rhythm, especially the syllabic rhythm of English, are difficult, analytic, and not written for poets. They are to be consigned to the bookshelf, not the writing of poetry. Poetry doesn’t flow from analysis, science does. Poetry springs from observation, inspiration, life experiences.

Aspiring writers need to read some of the best poets so they can judge whether their verse compositions, which should never be called poetry, rise to that level. A writer who attempts verse may develop poetry; more likely the writer will merely improve the precision and expressiveness of his prose.

Most of us have a curious inhibition to writing in poetic form. While we make no apology for bad prose, we have an innate critical sense, which education so rapidly develops, that makes us reluctant to expose ourselves in the much tighter-fitting garments that verse requires.

It would be helpful to writers, who wish to pursue verse, to understand the structure of English verse and the method by which it seeks rhythm. This can be achieved by careful reading; most of all from a poet, if you can find one.

Yours Truly,

Simon Halburian

Saguache, CO