I’ve always thought poetry was self-expression. And so for a long time, whenever I sat down to write, I let my emotions reverberate through my bones, ebb into my fingers, and onto the screen.
It seemed like the natural thing to do, and any alliteration, assonance, or metre that came with it was an added advantage—a happy co-incidence. Certainly not a concentrated, contrived effort on my part.
Then I learnt my idea of poetry was total bonkers.
Sure, I still write when the muse takes over my mind and I don’t have to work as hard to string words into meaning. However, I also met people, actual poets, who’ve published in many esteemed places, talk about the process of writing poetry.
There’s a process?
Indeed, there is. From a couple of panel discussions at the Poetry on the Move festival, and from many observations that dawned on me during the weekend, I’ve realised that poetry doesn’t just hit you like a flash of lightening in a storm-studded sky.
Instead, it’s a conscious effort to twist memory and wring out emotions within, to recollect and relive life instances, of the time we knocked into a tree, too busy looking at the phone, and of the next time we attempted to consciously sidestep the tree only to realise that was gone—sacrificed, cut down for construction.
A poet I heard recently said she needs at least three hours to write one poem.
That’s when it hit me. Art, regardless of form, isn’t subconscious. It’s meticulous and deliberately delicate.
The world seldom respects that.