I thought I’d take a side journey from story writing and talk a little bit about poetry. I’m not a big fan of poetry mostly because of how difficult it can be to understand it the first time around. You have to really spend some time re-reading all the verses to see all the similes and innuendos. And even then, it still might not make a lot of sense because the author simply thinks too differently than you.

 

Deeply Powerful

 

This doesn’t mean I don’t admire poetry, and when I do understand the meaning behind the words, it can be really deep and beautiful. The imagery in poetry is much more intense than in typical story writing and gets down to the truths about life. Poetry can really make you feel connected. But you have to put in some effort first to get something out of it.

 

When you are the one writing poetry, it can be exciting to think of all the subtexts you are leaving behind. You put a lot of yourself into writing poetry, even more so than character building. You will re-read each line and be reminded of your hopes and dreams. Poetry is about sharing what you see with others.

 

Structure

 

Poetry is not the easiest thing in the world to write structure-wise. There are so many different ways of writing which are considered poetic. Most of the time, rhyming is evolved. Some count syllables or try to make the words flow within a certain rhythm. Poetry is like putting words to a dance and all song lyrics are already poetry. It can be hard to choreograph everything together. And since poetry is considered such a refined art, you never want to settle for the simple words.

 

In short, poetry is still a difficult type of writing.

 

The poetry that I know best is called a chiasmus or the chiastic structure. Chi is the Greek word for the letter X. Chiasm means cross. Typically, when you write a chiasmus, you will indent each line a bit further, and then bring it back. This creates the left side of an X.

 

In a chiasmus, each line has a subject or purpose. That idea is mirrored. The first and last line refers to the same thing. The second and second to last refer to the same thing, and so forth for as long as your poem is. The ideas build to the most important idea in the middle two lines. Instead of rhyming words, you are rhyming ideas. Which I think is pretty cool.

 

It looks something like this:

 

Idea One – words words words words

Idea Two – words words words words

Idea Three – words words words words

Idea Four – important words words words

Idea Four – important words words words

Idea Three – words words words words

Idea Two – words words words words

Idea One – words words words words

 

Meaning

 

This type of poetry can be more open ended since you aren’t trying to rhyme a word with orange or cutting out words to have the perfect syllables. Chiasms are all about the meaning, which is the point of poetry in the first place.

 

If you are Christian, after learning about chiasms you may notice that the Bible is full of them. Find an idea that is repeated within a chapter and work your way back to the middle verses. You will find what was considered the most important point. Not every writer wrote chiasms into their books, but it is a brilliant way to beautifully iterate ideas.

 

I first learned about chiastic poetry in a church class, but I really got excited about it when I was able to use it in my architecture class. We ended up taking my idea to build a hope inspired pavilion. We even laser cut my poem onto a wall of it. Definitely a shining achievement for me. I could write an entire post on that project, but this isn’t the place for that. My point is, you never know where poetry could take you.

 

Photo by Clark Van Der Beken

 

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