Thursday, February 11, 2016

Guest Post with author Kelly R. Michaels

“The Art of Penning Poetry” By Kelly R. Michaels

There was a time when the idea of poetry and composing it was intimidating to me, even though in grade school I submitted several poems for a collected publication with other students. To combat this in my more ‘adult’ years, I had joined a local Poet’s Society a few years ago, but eventually I stopped attending. My poems and style of poetry were vastly different than everyone else’s. I was a writer before I was a poet, and my poetry reflected that, often being long and descriptive with a narrative, story-telling style of writing. And although the other members were complimentary of my work, I felt too out of place to comfortably continue writing and sharing my poetry with them.

Then, while pursuing my Bachelors, I had to take a required Poetry course (actually called “Poetry and Poetics”). It was my first semester at this new campus, and I was already intimidated by everything, not knowing anyone, being silently judged for my Harry Potter scarf (it was a frigid January day), and—with this class—not really knowing enough about poetry to “get it.”

The professor walked into the class ten minutes late, something I and the other students would learn to become accustom to, and despite his tardiness, he did exude an air of superior intellect. Not that he was necessarily condescending, but you could tell, especially from his Socratic-style class, that he knew his stuff and it became quickly apparent that he was quite fond of poetry. And, of course, although a professor does try to be accommodating to any type of poetry, his favorite style certainly showed through. And the style is the same style than I am not inclined to write for myself. Not only that, the professor had even remarked several times that he doesn’t enjoy or “get” the Science Fiction & Fantasy genres, which, as a writer, were primarily my genres.

So, I didn’t feel inclined to share any of my writing with him. I didn’t even feel inclined to get to know him on a personal level. He intimidated me so much, that I was ready to get through the poetry class (designed to analyze poetry from the audience side anyway, not the writer’s side) and just forget the experience had ever happened. But as time wore on, the class progressed, and I found myself getting to know the professor a bit more.

It should be noted that he is not an unkind person. He is very kind and gentle and, most, importantly accepting of new ideas. Although he did have a particular favorite style of poetry, he did make efforts to be inclusive to a wide variety, ones that we probably wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. I became familiar with Natasha Trethewey, whose book A Native Guard spoke volumes to me, especially after recently losing my mother. Her style, though not exactly like my own, bore significant resemblances.

And, if there was anything that I took away from that class, particularly as a writer, it was this:

A lot of people have anxiety over their poetry. But they shouldn’t. Poetry can be anything. And I mean that quite literally. Poetry can be linguistic, visual, auditory. Taking that class has relieved me of my poetry-related anxiety, which I think a lot of writers have. I titled this post as “The Art of Penning Poetry,” but the real art of it lies within the poet. Whether you have poet predecessors to look up to and be guided by or not, the objective of a poem, to show or tell, to experience, its purpose rests entirely with the poet, and often times, the audience.

Because a poem shares. And whether your style is long and narrative, set within specific syllabic parameters, or focuses primarily on imagery or sounds, matters little, because as a poet, you are sharing something. And no matter what that it is, it still matters.

I decided to write on this topic because of a new project I’m working on, The Midwinter Fairytale, which is written entirely in lyrical format. I hit a block while writing it, agonizing over the line length and my word choices. Such anxiety about poetry can and was very discouraging, particularly when you’ve hit a block. My advice for such a conundrum is to read something similar that inspires you. Because you are doing great!

About the author:

Kelly is an independent author who publishes under the name Little Owl Publishing. You may find official updates and releases from Kelly Michaels on the Little Owl Publishing blog and website. Her first book Archer of the Lake was released May 23, 2014. Her second book Prince of the Vale was released December 11, 2015.

She resides in a small town in southern Tennessee where she graduated with her A.A. in Foreign Language in 2013. She continues her degree by working on a B.S. in Secondary English Education, but also occupies her time with her part-time job and her obsession for writing stories.

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