The Power of Poetry

34 Writing Contests in May 2018 - No entry fees

More than you wanted to know department

Not open for further replies.

Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I've long enjoyed reading poetry, which has been a source of comfort, wonder, humour and inspiration.

When I returned to creative writing in 2013, I did so by penning poems and short stories, moving on to novellas. Several poems became the catalyst for longer forms. In two years I created 400 poems and song lyrics, which gives you some idea of what a logjam of ideas I had bouncing around in my bonce! o_O Some were never intended for public consumption, being more of a therapeutic exercise. Most were OK, though, when I searched through them with a view to entering writing competitions in 2017, I came up with a shortlist of only ten. Here's one of them:

Take Away The Buildings

Imagine yourself laying down in bed,

Without the walls, floor and ceiling.

No building at all, just you hovering

Mid-air, with layers of other sleepers

Dispersed around you, at different heights.

Others in your block of flats are walking

Through air, sitting and staring at televisions

With no floor beneath them, feet up on a stool.

Some lay nude in a bath, or squat in contemplation.

Ninety feet above ground level, they float unaware.

Seeking exercise, your neighbour runs up absent stairs,

Treading on empty space, climbing to the heavens.

Restless, you roll out of bed, walk to a missing edge

To gaze out of a window that's not there, all privacy

Gone, you see all around you, all the way to the stars

There's something about writing poetry, and to a lesser extent song lyrics, that helps my mind to find the correct words and phrasing if I ever get stalled (not blocked!) while in the throes of writing a novel. Poetry is such a synthesis of what something looks like or how someone feels that unnecessary detail gets discarded.

It's a powerful form of writing. As Rumi observed:

Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it.

Another thing about writing poetry, is that it tempts me into doing more editing than in any other form; a poem never seems to be quite done—even a quick read suggests words that I could substitute.

Helen Dunmore died recently, writing her final volume of poetry while undergoing treatment for cancer. Inside The Wave deservedly won the Costa Prize for poetry and overall book of the year. One poem from it has been widely quoted:

My Life's Stem Was Cut

My life’s stem was cut,

But quickly, lovingly

I was lifted up,

I heard the rush of the tap

And I was set in water

In the blue vase, beautiful

In lip and curve,

And here I am

Opening one petal

As the tea cools.

I wait while the sun moves

And the bees finish their dancing,

I know I am dying

But why not keep flowering

As long as I can
from my cut stem?

I'm fond of love & lust poetry, in particular the work of Brian Patten, Wendy Cope, Sophie Hannah and Sharon Olds—clicking on their names will show an example of their poetry.

Do any of you write poetry?

Have you been inspired by a poem, that helped you through a tough time?

Can you still recite poems you were made to learn while young?

Who are your favourite poets?

Do any of you write poetry?

Good god no. Not unless I have to. No one should write poetry.

Have you been inspired by a poem, that helped you through a tough time?

Well. Not so much.

Can you still recite poems you were made to learn while young?

I wasn't made to learn any poems when I was young. But no, I probably wouldn't be able to either way. Memorization isn't a skill I have. I forget specifics and only remember impressions.

Who are your favourite poets?

William Blake in pieces.
ee cummings in broad strokes.
Shakespeare when it's pass or fail.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning behind closed doors.
Emily Dickinson in the sunlight.
Pablo Neruda under covers.
and Rumi in coffee shops.
Can you still recite poems you were made to learn while young?

Earth has not anything to show more fair.
Dull would he be of mind who could pass by,
A sight so touching in it's majesty...etc.

William Wordsworth, Upon Westminster Bridge.

Probably the first poem I learnt in it's entirety when I was a child. Although some of it has now faded from my memory.

I still know most of The Owl And The Pussy Cat.

But apart from those cliched titles, I'm a bit of a poetry desert.
I do read poetry, and write verse (mea culpa) rhyming or free form, if an idea comes. The odd one in print. Gathering quite a few. Someone's got to write it or it wouldn't exist, and poetry has the power to bear up the spirit like loved ones, like beauty, like music and wild creatures and landscapes. The Literary Review got me started, by annoying me with a prompt, 'Awe; that became a mind-worm that became a poem for which they paid me....a whole TEN pounds sterling.

Many a stinker of course.

'The Eagle'...what's not to like?

The wind bloweth where it listeth.

The Bible, and I am a heathen destined for the fiery place according to bashers of such, how nice of them (and if they say so, they haven't studied Corinthians)... contains mighty poetry, the experience of countless ages distilled in poetic truths.

Read at a family funeral. He lived only an hour and this was perfect. Sternest of comfort but perfect.

Ecclesiastes. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Last edited:
Not open for further replies.

34 Writing Contests in May 2018 - No entry fees

More than you wanted to know department