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Three Expression Tips For New Poets

By a Poet, for a Poet

I want to start this post off with the disclaimer that in no way am I trying to teach people how to write poetry. Systematic, routine poetry is not poetry at all, and therefore, genuine poetry cannot be taught. However, there are some things that I have picked up over the years that help me better express myself in my writing, things that allow me to say things that I never thought I would be able to say or express ideas that I never thought I would be able to depict. 

That being said, here are my tips for letting your emotions loose in a creative way that you can utilize in every poem you write, be it spoken word, organized, or whatever. 

1. You

Your mind is a wonderland of adventure and war; no one can feel exactly the way that you feel, or think exactly the way that you think. These things are entirely unique to you. That being said, only you can write what you are feeling.

If you're looking to Sabrina Benaim for patterns in sad poetry to duplicate in your own, then you are expressing yourself in a way that is not allowing your own creativity a chance. Sabrina has her own set of beliefs, feelings, and emotions. They might even be extremely similar to yours, but nevertheless, her experiences are different, and the way her mind responds to those experiences are different too; therefore, her poetry and your poetry should always vary according to emotion and retort to certain situations, scenarios, or feelings. It's like this with every poet, and artists are like snowflakes — we only thrive when everything else seems to be good and cold and dead, and no two of us are exactly the same. 

2. Language

Going off of my first point — if you're having trouble in the creative department, think of your poetry as a language that only you know how to speak, but that you can teach anyone to understand. Once you have a good understanding of this, you will be able to write poetry that your audience will not necessarily relate to on a level of personal experience, but that they will have full, immersive respect for. You can write a slam poem about climbing a tree and perform it to an audience who has never climbed a tree, but the way you describe the branches, the splinters, or the foliage — while it will not give them a real-life experience of climbing a tree — will give them pieces of the experience that they can't get elsewhere, not even their own experience of actually, physically climbing a tree. 

3. Descriptors

Descriptors are powerful tools that often take up the bulk of a poem, especially if it's a poem about a particular person, place, feeling, or memory. Poetic descriptors go beyond adjectives and adverbs, though these are the tools we use to achieve them; they describe things in a new way that, most likely, no one has ever understood before.

To achieve accurate descriptions of what you're trying to explain in your poems, don't be afraid to use words or scenarios that don't usually go together. Don't be afraid to describe the ocean with words that you would usually use to describe someone's personality — such as kind or rude — and vice versa.

Also don't be scared of verbing, which is the act of turning a noun into a verb. Here's an example: "The golden leaves of the trees sang a song that avalanched through the forest, bulldogging their way into my ears, into the part of my soul that didn't know how much it missed music." Technically speaking, there is no documented verb-version of the words avalanche and bulldog, at least not to my knowledge, but that's what makes this tool so powerful — it catches your audience off-guard in a positive way that immerses them further into your story. It also aids in how well your story sticks with them; the people you are trying to reach probably have never heard the word bulldog used as a verb before, and therefore, they are more likely to remember the scenario you described while using the term, since it's pretty much exclusive to their experience listening to you.

I hope these tips have helped you if you're a new poet, or even if you've been writing for a while but have recently had trouble with getting your thoughts and feelings onto the pages in a way that satisfies you. 

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