Chronicles Von Quandt

The Story of The Adventures

The Making of a Poem

This is a valuable essay on how to create beautiful poetry.  It was originally posted on YouTube following much conversation and written as comments to this music piece.  The instruction follows the poem follows the music.


My eyes have grown muddy
Wide open all the same.
Endless night of study;
As I think of your name

They’ve burnt red for your sake,
Trapped in a devout sin.
Feverish dream of wake;
As I think of your skin.

Your return is their balm
It heals and yields fresh start.
In this moment of calm;
As I think of your heart.

And now they drift away.
I doze out of control,
LeAnne, my sleep will sway;
As I think of your soul.

Fading dreams

Awake with open eyes,
Alone under the dawn.
I can’t hold back my cries
As I think that you’re gone.

I stare at cups of tea,
Which no dream survived yet.
Yours fades despite my plea
As I drink and forget.

– By me.

Edit, she left the morning she read my poem. I thought giving it two strophes of closure was appropriate.

– First intent, then structure, then style.
– Try to make some goddamn sense.
– Word salad is idiotic. Poetry is language, language conveys a message, it’s not music you make with your vocal cords.
– First make a plan: “In this stanza, I’ll talk of how lonly I was, then how we met, then this one will be how you left me, and then this one about me being lonely again”.
– If you can’t yourself explain who or what the poem is about, and what it says in plain language, chances are you’re just making words rhyme and don’t actually make sense.That’s bad.
– So, again, you start with a goddamn plan about what each stanza (paragraphs of 4 verses) will say.
– Chose a pattern and stick to it. Don’t forget the rythmic pattern. Iambic hexameter is the most classic, but I like to cut it into trimeter.
– Look up iambic online.
– Keep in mind that you rhyme the accentuated vowel. “Able” doesn’t rhyme with “terrible”.
– But don’t rhyme yet, the second thing is to write half of your strophe. Write the most important verses (usually first and last).
– Poetry (and the rest of language) is like jokes or detective novels. The human brain is hardwired to anticipate what comes next. If what comes next is completelly ad hoc (e.g. And I gave you my heart… that was not very smart), people will know and you will sound stupid. Basically, your best line should close the stanza and take advantage of the echo (e.g. Not all my choices are smart… that’s why I gave you my heart).
– This creates the rewarding “OH OF COURSE” response in the human brain. That’s good. In plain words, write the first and last verses of your stanzas
so that your “further fetched metaphors” are not the punchline of your “joke”.
– Ideally, make these verses as clear, unambiguous and powerful as possible. There’ll be plenty of ambiguity later on.
– Your last word will echo. Make sure it has a very powerful conotation. (e.g. consider changing “I forgot my tooth brush” for “My tooth brush forgotten”. Unless you intentionally aim to foil the expectations (e.g. why did the chicken cross the road).
– If you followed the instructions, your stanza should have two verses /4. You still need to tie the loose ends, finish the sentences gramatically if possible, rhyme twice, fit in some sort of iambic meter, and complete the idea you’ve assigned to the stanza. That is a lot of restrictions.
– That’s where figures of style come into play. There’s not an infinity of words that rhyme with “forgotten”, so if you want to say that “she didn’t touch you a single time since”, you can say “as if I’d been rotten”.
– That’s right, the reason why there’s so many restrictions in poetry is that restrictions don’t hinder creativity, but rather stimulate it. Figures of style typically generate on their own at this point because you’re not using some ethereal “divergent thinking”, but rather your very rational “problem solving inteligence”.
– Plot twist. To be a good poet / musician / writer, you need the same general thinking skills as a good mathematician / scientist.
– Plot twist: There are no “right brained people” and “left brained people”, only talented people, (and less talented people), who can be interested in math or not, interested in poetry or not, etc.
– Plot twist: The world is not fair get over it.
– If a metaphor is very good or very orignal, but still perfectly clear and you want to include it at all cost, you should add it in the first two verses you write.
– Bonus point for style for the following
– Continued metaphor: if there is an inter-metaphor cohesion that is maintained during the poem. (e.g. every metaphor will consistently relate to the sea/greek gods/a train station/whatever).
– Information density: The difference between a good poem and a great poem is that analysing every single detail in the great poem takes a page per stanza. Don’t expect everything to be understood, but if you tell several different naratives at the same time, and give a Moral about life in general, and that you replace the word “lunge” with “plunge” because the gas mask made you feel like you were scuba diving, AND that you also make a hidden reference to a personal even only she will ever get, then you wrote a great stanza.
– If the poem is for a specific person, throw in a “proof” that you didn’t steal it from the internet. A reference to something they said or something they did, etc.
Welp: that’s pretty much it.

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This entry was posted on February 10, 2015 by in Musings and tagged , , , , .

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