The A and I Poetry Writing Challenge has been running for several months and our poetic community grows each month. (Click Here for a sample)
Those who have never taken up the pen before, are writing fantastic poems. I can’t wait to read what you come up with this month.
Find instructions for joining in HERE
Write a poem about something small that is only 5 lines long. Write the same poem again and try to use concrete words.
Discuss which version you like best and why.
The prompt is merely a suggestion if you need help getting started with ideas.
You may of course, write about whatever you choose and still tag our A and I Poetry Challenge so that other readers can find your poetry post.
Read my Submission below, but first some Poetry Writing Tips:
Here are some tip on writing with concrete words:
Poetry Writing Tips:
One of the biggest problems with any language is the inherent ambiguity in an abstract word. It’s meaning isn’t perfectly clear, and you have to interpret it. This becomes really evident if you read different translations of the same texts. And with room for interpretation comes room for misunderstanding [Source: http://www.lookscloudy.com/2011/07/communicating-better-concrete-and-abstract/%5D
Use Concrete Words Instead of Abstract Words.
Concrete words describe things that people experience with their senses.
A person can see orange, feel warm, or hear a cat.
Poets use concrete words help the reader get a “picture” of what the poem is talking about. When the reader has a “picture” of what the poem is talking about, he/she can better understand what the poet is talking about.
Abstract words refer to concepts or feelings.
“Liberty” is a concept, “happy” is a feeling, and no one can agree on whether “love” is a feeling, a concept or an action.
A person can’t see, touch, or taste any of these things. As a result, when used in poetry, these words might simply fly over the reader’s head, without triggering any sensory response. Further, “liberty,” “happy,” and “love” can mean different things to different people. Therefore, if the poet uses such a word, the reader may take a different meaning from it than the poet intended.
“Concrete” means something you can experience with your senses: you can see, smell, hear, taste, or touch it. “Abstract” describes an idea, thought, or feeling–something you can’t use your five senses to describe.
Change Abstract Words Into Concrete Words
Example: “She felt happy.”
This line uses the abstract word “happy.” To improve this line, change the abstract word to a concrete image. One way to achieve this is to think of an object or a scene that evokes feelings of happiness to represent the happy feeling.
Improvement: “Her smile spread like red tint on ripening tomatoes.”
Here is my Poetry submission for the June prompt:
Rebel by name but not by nature
Your wagging tail defines your demeanour
Smiling, happy, so warm on my feet,
Fur so soft that is hard to beat
Best friends in love through thick and thin
and now for the rewrite aiming for more concrete words:
Rebel only by name but not by nature –
Excited barking shared, tail a fluffy whip rhythmically brushing the air;
Infectious smile in eyes and nose, a welcome contagion with all those
velvet soft caresses on my cheek. Now a furry, warm slipper on my tired feet.
Accepting my failings, giving me company and her special brand of Rebel love.
I must admit that the second version paints a better picture for the reader.
I wasn’t happy with the final line but could not come up with an alternative today. Perhaps I will rewrite this poem again.
Here is some more tips on Using Concrete Words:
Concrete words are always stronger than abstract words in writing. You could stand on a soapbox in the park and say: “I hate all injustice! It’s wrong! We must end it!”
Or you could get on that soapbox and say: “Bullies stink! All bullies should be forced to eat headlice!” Which do you think will make people stop and listen? Which will make them yawn? [https://amymacdonald.com/educators/concrete-instead-of-abstract/]
The key to writing great poetry is to write focused, concrete poetry. But many beginning poets write poetry based around wide themes such as love, life, and anger, generalizing their writing. By using strong language, active verbs instead of passive verbs and concrete language instead of abstract, you can capture a reader’s interest and captivate a reader’s imagination. Poetry, as something others read, should be at its best interactive, and at its worse, straight forward and clear.
The reader has a difficult time relating to poetry that is generalized, vague, or otherwise abstract. Having the reader relate to the work is an important aspect of poetry, and to help the reader you must paint your meaning in clear images and words. When you begin a poem, ask yourself what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you want to write about life, what about life do you want to write about?
Are you angry at something and want to vent?
What are you angry at?
Don’t say the whole world. Pick a person or situation that you dislike and focus on that. By personalizing your poetry, you remove the vague generalities included in many abstract themes.
Name that name. Don’t just say birds, but tell the reader what kind of birds. Are they cardinals, swallows, or canaries?
Use more specific language: people, places, numbers, dates, and details. Be wary of particularly ambiguous terms.
Many people overuse some really meaningless abstract words. “Inexpensive” “reliable” and “fast” are three of the worst. The more specific the details, the more engaged the listener or reader must be in order to follow along, yet simultaneously the message becomes more clear.
Instructions for Joining in with the A and I Poetry Challenge can be found HERE
Don’t forget to link back to this post, on your own poetry submission post, by linking this url to the words A and I Poetry Challenge so Ineke, Amanda and others can find your post.
~ Amanda and Ineke