Posted by: Corri van de Stege | February 19, 2008

Poetry again

Soon I will press the button.  The button to send my poetry assignment. 

These last few weeks have been an obsessive preoccupation with words and poetic lines, trying to tell stories in about 15 lines each, although of course that is not prescribed.  I have learned that you cannot be abstract, you must be clear, there must be rythm, preferably some ‘internal’ rhyming or rather assonance.  There are lines and there are stanzas and if you are very good you can attempt a sonnet.  But the worst thing you could do is make it all rhyme.  Thank god.  I hate rhyming, although it used to be great fun once, for St Nicholas evenings, a long time ago now, when you wrote anonymous and long pages full  of rhyming nonsense on the things people had done or not done the previous year.  That had nothing to do with poetry however.

Once I press this button, and send the poems flying into the ether to be picked up by a tutor and to be vetted and judged, I can relax.  It still is a mystery to me why I have become so preoccupied with this: it was never my intention to become a poet, but it is almost as if the words and the lines challenge you and you are taken up by the language of your own stories, the things you see.  Then you so desperately want to say it succinctly.  In such a way that it tells the story without being trite.  My… that is so difficult.  I  now even more admire good poetry and have picked up a couple of very good collections.  One is by Carol Ann Duffy, called RaptureShe won the 2005 TS Eliot Prize.  The other is by Sean O’Brien called The Drowned Book, and he won the 2007 forward Prize.  In fact I came across him first when not so long ago he read one of his poems on the radio, after winning another prize.   It was about a northern city and it was so clear and so brilliant that I went out and bought this collection.  I have not by any means read and appreciated them all yet.  The good thing with poetry is that you pick one up and meander.

Whatever my moaning and groaning about the poetry module, I appreciate good poetry so much more now than I ever did before and will continue to read it.  In particular poetry on this site – and I want to leave there my thanks and heart felt appreciation of some patient and encouraging advice when I felt completely at a loss!

Neverthless, this is probably the only time that I am recommending poetry books!  I shall go back to what I feel much more comfortable with and that is novels and short stories.  The next module is on biography, very close to my heart!


  1. What a gorgeous post! I’ve never been good at poetry and more often than not, if I’ve tried to write it at all, I become so frustrated I quit immediately. Good for you to take up the challenge with such zest.

  2. Even though I have written my own little poetry pieces, I don’t read much poetry at all. good luck wth your challenge!

  3. The world, or rather its inhabitants have changed so much that old poetry has become obsolete and cloying in my opinion. Technology and pragmatism are pervasive in everything in our lives. I would say today’s poetry should take these changes into account, which I don’t think is a hard task. Ideas occur to us from the day-to-day lifestyles.

    Or so I think.

  4. Andi – it definitely has been a challenge. Glad you enjoyed it!
    Kim: thank you!
    Jose: I think poetry today is so much different and I do enjoy reading it. Writing is something altogeher different though!

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