Why This is a Good Time to Begin Writing Short Poems
– by Wendy Bourke
Though you may not be writing, currently, chances are – at one time or another – you have taken a turn-or-two at writing a poem. In terms of a creative pastime, writing poems has got a lot going for it. Most artistic endeavours require supplies. Before you can even clear the gate, it's off to the Art Supply Store, for a load of paraphernalia ... canvases and oils or silk threads or beads, or what-have-you. As the expression goes: cha-ching ... cha-ching. Of course, these days, because of COVID 19, any shopping to be done, must be done on-line – resulting in a considerable lapse (spent waiting for delivery) between inspiration and execution of a project. With poetry, there is no such impediment. Poetry is free. It is readily accessible. And it lends itself to a myriad of do-overs ... unlike work that must be endlessly fuelled by supplies.
Aside from the economy of writing – for me – writing poetry offers virtues that no other creative undertaking does. Poetry is my 'go-to' place. It is always available. In the most troubling of times (such as we are now in) it forces you to centre your mind ... at least, briefly. I may not be able to concentrate on a novel – but, surely, I can put together 3 lines and create a poem (as is the case with a Japanese haiku). Writing, even a short poem, gives you a sense of control ... you have accomplished something. If it pleases you and you think that it is rather good, you may decide to keep it. In that case, you will have accomplished something that is enduring. That – is a very nice feeling – the feeling that, this little bit of 'you' will remain, after you have passed. The more poetry you write ... the more 'body of work' you create. People have always been interested in what kind of a life their ancestors lived. When you leave behind writing, you leave behind a far more indelible trace of who-you-were.
When I first began writing poetry – in earnest – over 10 years ago, I started with small pieces. I still enjoy short poems, to this day. Because they are more succinct, it is easier to not get lost in the 'word-forest'. Many of my small poems, have been rejigged into more substantial pieces. They began with one small 'seed' of an idea, but – over time – that seed grew ... and then it grew, some more. I've noticed that small poems often grow. They grow bigger and they grow and merge with other medium. Artwork (such as ink drawings or paintings or photography) that is combined with a haiku ... becomes a haibun (not in the classic strictest sense, though the term seems to be gaining a wider interpretation, as the trend continues). Small poems can be combined with video or with small water colour paintings. They can be placed in books holding special moments and memories.
Lastly, poetry can be shared. I have been part of a poetry forum, for years. Though I have yet to meet any of my fellow poets in person, they are close. I hold them – and their words – in the highest regard. Poetry can be shared on-line and it can also be shared at home. It can be shared with partners. And it can be shared – and encouraged – in children. And what a wonderful life-long gift, it is ... to give to a child.