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Poetry is an interesting art form that seems certainly to be lesser practiced among the general populace than perhaps painting or playing instruments. It seems that every other person enjoys painting or playing the piano or guitar as a means to express themselves, but few count themselves as poets and this is a perplexing divide.
What makes this odd is the fact that poetry is arguably one of the most accessible forms of self expression available. Whereas being able to paint is a gift that very few of us have, and being able to play an instrument is something that requires both a certain level of aptitude and years and years of practice - being able to write poetry simply requires that you be able to write words and doesn't even necessarily mean you need to be able to spell.
To write poetry then is something that we all already can do then, and it simply means putting words into an order to describe a feeling, an emotion, or even an experience or sight. Of course we normally think of poetry as being kind of 'beautiful' and of including rhyme, and a unique structure and of generally sounding lyrical and flowing off the tongue. This is something that we all cannot already do, and which comes with time and practice. However these are not fundamental requirements of poetry and in fact sometimes rhyming or using gimmicks can even cheapen an otherwise very touching and moving poem. The secret then is simply to write from the heart and to honestly try and capture your emotion in words. This can be done in a few words such as in Haiku, or can be done in the form of a huge story that breaks the conventions we normally associate with narrative stories in the form of an epic poem.
In many ways you could also consider poetry a more flexible form of art too. The whole point of art is that you are trying to convey emotion and feeling, and very often beauty or ugliness. At the same time you are often trying to challenge and to move the listener. Often you will be trying to capture the intangible, an urge, a reverence or a feeling that you can't communicate with the rest of the world except through your art, so that this art makes you feel as though you are lifting a great weight off of your chest. At the same time you might be using it to explore yourself, to see what you really feel. In these capacities you could describe art or music as potentially limiting. Here you are trying to tell a story or convey a complex emotion with just splashes of color, or notes. Here you can only show and can't tell. However with words, poetry allows you to be far more descriptive, elaborative and to generally say far more.
Poetry then doesn't even need to be good, as it might be just for your own use - to make you feel better and to help you work through your emotions like any good hobby. It is by doing this though, and by being completely honest with yourself, that you will hopefully create truly great poems that you eventually find yourself wanting to share. And when you do, you will be showing people a little piece of your soul.
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For more on poetry and poetry contests visit United World Poets
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