What is Poetry

I’m working through AA100 on the OU and I have never paid any attention to poetry – ever! When I realised how much I didn’t understand I had a look at the Openlearn parts of the OU website and found a twelve hour module ‘What is Poetry.’

I tried the activity below and it really helped me to start looking at line breaks and stanza.

Whilst I am not suggesting anybody is as bad as I am at this, I thought it might be good to throw this open for a few days and see if anybody else fancies trying their hand.

Activity One

Find two or three sentences of prose from a book, newspaper or magazine. Now transform this prose into poetry, by inserting line-breaks in the text in order to highlight whatever you consider most important or interesting. A line can be as short or as long as you want. You can change the original order of the sentences, but not the order of the words of any one sentence. As a mercy, you can repeat one line once. You are allowed to cut out words, but not add any.

One of the lines, or a word from one of the lines, could be the title.

Order the lines to direct the reader’s attention.

Does any particular line immediately suggest itself as an opening or final line?

What strikes you as the most important section? This should be your focus. Let the words tell you what the poem is about.

Activity Two

Now take your ‘instant poem’  and divide it into stanzas. You may change your mind about line-breaks now, and you may also add or take away words, if this helps. This time you may want to repeat another line or a word.

Can you locate a meaningful transition between the first and second stanzas, or the second and third?

A stanza can be as long or as short as you’d like, but make the length of the stanza appropriate to what’s contained within.

Try to free yourself from expectations about how it ‘should’ go. Instead, experiment, and see what ideas arise from the structure itself.


My Attempt:

Burmese Gems

They are revered amongst aficionados
for their rich deep hues
and mesmerising sparkle.

However, Burmese gems
are now the centre
of an international outcry over
the persecution of Rohingya muslims.

gems are now the centre
of an international outcry over
the persecution of Rohingya muslims.

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