POETRY - the Queen of Arts 
(title from quote by poet Thomas Sprat)
The do-it-yourself poet
- Notes on the power of the poem and publishing your own poetry

By Keith Newman
poet, writer, publisher, pioneer with a pen
Basic poetry terms

 IF WORDS TEND TO WELL UP INSIDE YOU demanding to be expressed on paper so you can see what they look like, the chances are you have the makings of a poet.

Sometimes it seems as if putting pen to paper is the only way to satisfy the mystical meanderings of the mind. If you can get those thoughts, insights and observations down on paper, and they still seem to be alive when you read them back, then you have captured some of that illusive magic which goes by the name of the poem.

In one way or another we are all poets.  We can bring the written or spoken word alive in the way we choose our words and put them together. In the beginning of creation God spoke and the worlds came into being.  We are created in God's image and our words are also meant to be creative tools.

So often though, our choice of words falls far short of that mark.  We need to rediscover the mystery of words.  "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" - Mathew 12:34

People are reading less and less in this age of audio-visual overkill. TV, videos, computer games and web browsing have taken over from books as a means of entertainment; and entertainment has often taken over from self advancement and spiritual awareness.

New Zealand used to have the highest literacy rate of any nation in the world. We’ve been downgraded. There has been a gradual decline in the desire to read books after the age of about 25 years and literacy now appears to be dropping overall. For the writer that is of concern - the potential market for readers is getting smaller.

It is obvious then that the writer has a great responsibility to make subject matter interesting and accessible both in it's content and appearance. This is where I believe the poem is increasing in value and the spoken word is finding increasing acceptance as a form of expression in public places. Comedy broke through the mold in New Zealand but as it sinks into the morass of potty talk in place of punchlines there’s room for the poet to step up to the microphone.

For the reader a minute or two of time and a little concentration over a poem in a small book or posted on a wall or a website might bring a new level of appreciation or insight. Some important, enlightening or humorous thought might be conveyed in those few lines laboured over by the artisan called the poet.

Poetry books are typically fairly short with special attention paid to layout, typeface and accompanying artwork, so the look and feel may has a presence and perhaps even becomes precious. The French atheist Voltaire once said: "Twenty volume folios never make a revolution.  It is the small pocket pamphlets which are to be feared."

 In the initial stages the poet may express personal feelings, thoughts, hurts, insights or simply record the random ramblings of the mind. The person serious about the content and impact of their words however, must come to a point of distinction between what is worthy to be put to paper and what is simply idle brain chatter.

 As you strive to understand the complex workings of the creative mind and the disciplines of crisp writing then the "poem" is more likely to trust you to express it on paper. Soon you will be able to recognise it's promptings and respond to the flow.

Once we have learned to tune to the true creative flow then the words we choose will tend to express something strong and sure, often loaded with depth or a simplicity that cuts deeply.

Once inspired we should not hesitate to transfer our thoughts to paper. Spontaneous creative thinking cannot be held off until tomorrow. Pen and paper should always be at the ready. Sometimes we may receive only one line. But don't be disappointed ... it may prove it's worth in days ahead matched with others that drop from the mind to the consciousness.

Only if the line or poem does not hold life when reflected upon in days ahead should it be rejected. Don’t waste good words.

THE TRUE POET WILL ALWAYS SPEAK FROM THE HEART - that seat of our inward life, that place of understanding where the soul whispers its secrets before the mind messes them up.

The poet is not a politician trying to convince the opposition of his point of view, or a business person writing solely for profit; neither is the poet a publicist or a writer of greeting card verses.

The poet is primarily a "watchman upon the wall" – someone who sees the world through other eyes than those caught up in the daily grind. The poet sees in a detached way the signs of the times, changes of mood, the swings of history and the subtle beauty of nature.

The poet is a reporter who can voice in an abstract way, things that are timeless.  The poet reports on old things in new ways and new things in old ways.

The poet points the pen so as to evoke some response in the reader. In a sense the poet is a reactionary and something of a revolutionary as well; responding to the present, understanding the past but also peeking into the future in order to bring back some omen of warning or hope.

The poet distils images on paper in the hope that the reader will receive some equivalent revelation or shared insight.  The journey must however begin with self exploration.  We must know the vessel that points the pen by searching out the mysteries God has placed in our own hearts.  Who can teach without first being taught?

If you wouled like the full transcript of my book detailing how to self publish your own poetry books and pamphlets please drop me an email: 

gld-btn-sm.gif (924 bytes)"...receive with meekness the engrafted (planted) word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers (performers or specifically poets) of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving (contradicting/cheating) yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer (performer or poet), he is like a man looking at himself, who goes away and immediately forgets what sort of person he is," - James 1:21-24

Basic poetry terminology

" A metrical composition; a composition in which the verses consist of certain measures, whether in blank verse or in rhyme: a composition in which the language is that of excited imagination" - Websters. " A metrical composition; a composition in which the verses consist of certain measures, whether in blank verse or in rhyme: a composition in which the language is that of excited imagination" - Websters.

POET: In England poets were formerly often called `makers'. The author of a poem... one distinguished for poetic talents. One possessing high powers of imagination and expression. -Websters & Concise Oxford.

POETRY: Words arranged in short rhythmic lines, often with a rhyme. Expressive language. "That one of the fine arts which exhibits it's special character and powers by means of language; the art which has for it's object the creation of intellectual pleasure by means of imaginative and passionate language, generally in verse; the language of the imagination or emotions rhythmically expressed... especially that creative writing which is divided into lines, each containing a determined number of sounds, the sounds being accented according to a determined and regular rhythmical pattern...whatever appeals to the emotions or the sense of beauty." - Websters plus.

Proseordinary written language as opposed to poetry. From the Latin prosa, oratorio or straight forward speech.

Iambic: From iambis, lampoon, to assail in words, from its use by Greek satirists.  A metrical foot consists of one long (or stressed) syllable followed by two unstressed or short. A form of Greek or Latin dactylic (dactylic : from the three bones corresponding to the three syllables / etymological meaning) verse composed of two halves each of two feet and a long syllable used in elegiac (elegiac : used for elegies / verse in an elegiac meter / a pair of lines consisting of a dactylic hexameter and a pentameter esp in Greek and Latin verse).

– a verse of five feet (a group of syllables, one usually stressed, constituting a metrical unit) eg English Iambic verse of 10 syllables.


- Similarity of sound usually found at the end of lines.
Examples: late/fate; follow/swallow
- occur at the end of a verse line.
- occur within a verse.
Example: O fleet sweet swallow
The following example uses both internal and end rhymes:
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white
Glimmered the white moon-shine ( The Ancient Mariner - Coleridge)
are words which are spelled alike and in most instances were once pronounced alike, but now have different pronunciation: prove/love, daughter/ laughter
is an imperfect rhyme in which different vowels may be followed by identical consonants to give a semblance of rhyme eg blade/blood, flash/ flesh
- is the pace or tempo at which a passage moves. Rhythm reflects underlying emotion or meaning of a passage. It is created by the emphasis or stress placed on syllables, or words or groups of words.
- is the generally regular repetition of a given pattern of accented and unaccented syllables; the metrical unit is the foot.
- verse with a set rhythm (iambic pentameter) but no set rhyme scheme.
- Refers to a natural pause or break in a line of poetry, usually indicated by a punctuation mark, but not always eg. To die,// to sleep:
perchance to dream…
when the line of poetry runs on to the new line.
Example: And when there came a pause
Of silence such as baffled his best skill

- a comparison of two unlike things with one thing in common using "like" or "as".
Example: The soldier was lion-like in battle
a comparison of two unlike things with one thing in common, saying that one thing is the other.
Example: The soldier was a lion in battle.
This is a type of metaphor in which an abstract or inanimate thing is given human qualities.
Example: A wave bursts in anger on a rock
The repetition of a sequence of consonant sounds, usually at the beginnings of words or on accented syllables.
Example: The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free

The repetition of similar vowel sounds
Example: Thou foster child of silence and slow time.
is the repetition of a sequence of consonance sounds in words whose main vowels differ:
Example: presses/past; ghost/aghast; pitter/patter.
is the sss sound produced through the pronunciation of the sibilants: s (as in hiss and his), c ( as in certain), z (as in buzz) and the blend sh (as in whoosh).
Words which sound like the noise they describe.
Example: swish, cuckoo, smack

Ministry of Education, Wellington, New Zealand (First published 1998).
English On-line http://english.unitecnology.ac.nz/resources/units/nzpoetry/terms.html 

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