Sara M. Robinson
So, now we are closing in on the final essay in this collection. We’ve been through all the mechanics, ideas, parts and parcels of what we can use to write our poetry. How does it feel to know you are successfully engaging in your craft?
I want to leave you with one final thought: Writing poetry is a transactional relationship. I recently learned this term when I took a class on tying flies for fly fishing. The art/craft of tying flies is very similar to the art/craft of writing poetry. Both rely on convincing another party (fish or person) to “take the bait.” With poetry, our metaphorical “hook” is generally the first line.
If you are to concentrate on one particular component of your poetry, then really give that first line attention. Unlike fiction, where the writer has pages to engage the reader, we poets have a shorter line space to pull a reader in. Just like the perfect tie to catch a trout, we need the best line we have to complete the transaction.
Poets spent a “writing lifetime” constructing a poem which will either be read in minutes or dismissed in a moment. Back to the wary trout: I might spend 45 minutes constructing an appealing nymph (to me anyway), only to have my intended catch ignore it. We sure don’t want our intended audience to ignore us!
As you have seen throughout this book, there is no right or wrong way to write a poem. Yes, there are some basics that need attention and possibly correction to make the poem work. Those are your “tools.” I use 3 x 5 notecards with my mechanics written on them. I carry them with me everywhere in my writer’s satchel. Did you notice I did not use the word, “toolbox”? That has become a cliché and my advice is to never use that phrase!
While we are at the end of this edition, we are either beginning or continuing our poetry writing.
I hope you will always write to your heart’s content. I hope you will share your love of poetry with others. May the fire that is within your words, give warmth and happiness to your world.
Until next time…
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).