Most of us watch movies all the time. And most of us are terrified of mannequins. There’s something about distortions of the natural human figure that stir, within most of us, an instinctual fear. I won’t begin to try explaining this.
On the contrary, I find that, while a bit off-putting, most mannequins are quite friendly and no less intriguing as character studies.
Hey, coming at ya with some freshly made poetree. More surreal and metaphorical than most of my other poems (wait I take that back, all of them are already super metaphorical I think). But definitely more dream-like and intangible. With an interesting ABAC rhyme scheme, where only two of the four lines rhyme. Perhaps that does something in the way of propagating the story content of the poem, where there’s organization and reason to events, but at the same time, an ungraspable abstraction.
Yes, the structure of a poem can portray something about the conceptual, the ideas being expressed within writing, sometimes:
One of my more recently completed short stories, aptly titled “The Cashier,” is now on Amazon as an eBook – this merits an explanation, does it not? Explanations to questions such as “what is this short story about?” and “is it worth the $0.99?” and even more rude questions like “and I care because…?”
So I thought I’d share a few things about it. “The Cashier” materialized into existence as I sat on my couch in my dorm room, a blank Google Doc open on my laptop, my brain on high speed due to the energy drink I’d recently ingested. Never underestimate the power of a good energy drink over your creative juices. The only thing you should be estimating, for that matter, is the ingredient label. Make sure it’s healthy, not sweetened with sucralose, or even cane sugar, but rather a natural blend of something like stevia, monk fruit extract, and the like.
That is neither here nor there.
All that to say, I stared at my blank screen and searched for context to begin my first sentence. Given that this was a spontaneous short story, I had not formulated a detailed outline, character study, or plot arch. Usually, in these scenarios, I start a random sentence and let that decide the direction the rest of the story is headed. This was no different.
Preview it here:
I used to bus tables at a restaurant before college, so I decided to write about a character who worked at a pizza place. Instead of bussing tables, of course, he would be selling pizzas at his cash register. The common theme here was “customer service,” which I decided I would write about. So I began:
When we think of a poem, no doubt there is one specific poem stereotype that surfaces in our mind. Perhaps Louis-Stevenson’s “whose woods are these, I think I know,” or the over-used “roses are red, violets are blue,” or something of the sort. Some may think poetry is merely any combination of rhyming words.
Oh, but poetry can take on an infinite array of formations. Oxford Languages put it well, defining poetry as a “literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.” No mention of rhyming, or repeating patterns, or certain number of syllables. A poem is a poem for its expression of feelings and ideas in which there is marked style and rhythm. What that style and rhythm you use, as the poet, it completely up to you.
Remember high school English class? I’m sure we’ve all had that high school (or college) experience of being assigned schoolwork that consisted of reading a work of literature and then analyzing it. “What does this chapter say about the role of women in society during the 1940’s?” and perhaps “what is the author saying about capitalism here?” (Fun side-note for literature peeps: if you want to read a short story through a Marxist lens, try my short story on Amazon).
When assigned these questions for homework, where to begin searching for answers? We can’t ask Victor Hugo or Herman Melville what they were trying to say about gender roles or the working class, because they aren’t around anymore. And, a lot of the time, I’m sure many of us would say it felt like we were making things up just to get the homework out of the way. It begs the question – for analysis, is there really a CORRECT analysis for any given project? Or is it fine to stop at mere speculation, as long as we provide the correct number of citations to back our claim?
You, or anyone else, I’m sure, has had that difficult moment in their lives when they are asked to analyze a literary piece for a school project – whether that be a novel, short story, essay, or poem – and find themselves in a very suddenly-constructed DIY writer’s block. Who knows WHY the author said what they said? Who knows what themes they were attempting to convey? The author isn’t around (or alive) to explain their writing process to you, and so you are left to your own devices.
It’s much easier for me to analyze my own writing, however. Below is a poem of mine I wrote recently. Go ahead in read it and hopefully the meaning I was trying to portray is hidden in there somewhere. After the poem I’ll breakdown my writing process – why I chose the words I did, random rhyming patterns, and methods of symbolism and metaphor I utilized throughout to convey a central idea or theme. In the end, I hope this breakdown process helps you understand analytical techniques when reading poetry in general. Hopefully it gives you some food for thought on your next poem/story/screenplay as well!