I loved the opportunity to read poetry and learn about the mechanics of it. I love the way that a poem is a whole: every aspect of the poem contributes to the meaning – line length, number of lines, word choices, word sounds, rhyming (or not), assonance, enjambment, syllable count. Every single choice made by the writer is made for a reason. I think that is great.
But the BRB didn’t explain that.
In my opinion, the BRB barely even touched on the mechanics of poetry, or its importance. I understand that poetry is hard to teach and hard to explain, but the BRB didn’t even try.
The advice broadly shared between the A215 students was to read Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. It’s a good book… or, the first half of it is. I didn’t finish it.
I love poetry. But I wasn’t ready to write any: I didn’t have the right.
It’s a beautiful, complex and exciting art form, which I would recommend learning. But once you start to understand the mechanics at the heart of your favourite poems, you’ll start to realise how little you know.
And you need to break through that barrier by acquiring more knowledge, before you can go on to write poetry.
So I’ve got a theory:
There are two groups of people who can write poetry:
1) Those who understand thoroughly how poetry works: rhyme, metre, form. They know how to break the rules, and they can.
2) Those who have absolutely no idea how poetry works, and write from the heart.
The third group, in which I remain, are those who know a little about the mechanics, but not enough to throughly understand. We develop writers’ block as soon as the suggestion of writing a poem is bandied about in front of us. After all, you can’t write an essay on philosophy in French, if the only thing you know how to say is “one beer, please.”