How is Poetry different from other Genres?

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We often wonder about the multiple definitions of what exactly the meaning of poetry is and why sometimes it is the best medium to express something. In my experience, it’s not sometimes but always the best way of expression. Many people have quite the wrong misconception about poetry and poets in particular.

First of all they don’t consider the mediocre poetry as something to have intellectual ability and worthy of Wordsworth or Milton’s standard. However in reality poetry is actually an aesthetic expression dealing with everything and nothing at all at the same time. It doesn’t have to be worthy of some defined standard. A piece of poetry is poetry nonetheless. It doesn’t have to entail the complex poetic structure like Milton’s Paradise Lost; it can be as simple and short like Ezra Pound’s In a Station of the Metro.

Secondly, it is a common perception that a person can only turn towards poetry when he or she has encountered intense emotions or experiences in their lives. Only a person who went through such a thing can write something as complex as poetry, which is partly true, but not wholly. You don’t have to get your heart broken to be a good poet or a singer. Sometimes it comes from within. But going through such experiences definitely develop an insight in a person to look at things differently. Poets perceive everything at a deeper level than others, and they try to express themselves in the only way they know how.  

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”Emily Dickinson.

Poets are often called the visionaries of the writing world. They have a tendency to write close to the heart. Poetry is a complex genre with what seems like many rules, and at the same time, no rules. They don’t have to rhyme or follow any kind of rhythm structure or scheme, or they can be severely set. Unlike other types of literature, poetry is limitless in its possibilities, not only in terms of content but also in form. Poetry is probably the most flexible literary genre.  Poets frequently use sound devices, such as rhyme, rhythm or alliteration etc. These tools influence how a poem sounds when read aloud. They help establish the mood and tone of a poem, thus contributing to the overall occurrence of a poem.

Majority of the people complain that poetry is so hard to understand, that why a poet has to go through such extreme measures to convey such a simple thought?  It is because a piece of poetry, a poem doesn’t always convey a single thought. A poem is always filled with multiple interpretations. If a poet is praising one thing in the first line of is poem, he can totally negate from that in the end. Poetry is difficult to interpret because it consists of the serious compression of information in very few words. This requires the reader to be very attentive to the details. A poem doesn’t convey its meaning directly, unlike novels or short stories, but rather does so in a perplexing or strange way. This can make reading poetry a bit nerve-wracking, which usually annoys the readers. Reading and comprehending poetry is also an art in itself. Not everyone reads it, let alone understands it.

A turn in a poem is what makes it interesting for the readers. A poem may also have finer turns that shift the poem to a new place and a final turn that brings it back again. Just like listening to a good song. It’s like when you listen to the beginning of a song and realize it sounds nothing like the end; that is a turn.

“If poetry doesn’t come as freely as leaves on a tree, it better not come at all.”John Keats.

One of the interesting facts about poetry is that it is an exceptional language that combines and uses words to convey meaning and communicate ideas, feelings, sounds, gestures, signs, and symbols. It is a wisdom language because it relates the experiences and observations of human life and the universe around us. Much like a vehicle of thought, feeling, and spirit dressed up in words which are often very subtle, vague, mysterious, and have several layers of meaning. In fact, poetry can explode with meaning. The more you read and reread a poem, the more this becomes evident. Poetry can reveal many things to a reader, but it can also conceal many things as well. People who read the poetry know that you are using figures of speech and the words are meant to convey more than their literal value.

Reading more and more poetry increases your intellectual sense to highest levels of imagination. A poet always tries to convey his version of truth through his poetry. In the end, you have to find what works for you and what comes as easy to you as your breath. That’s when you know you have produced a piece of poetry.  

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