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Okay, it's late at night and I'm a poet, so let's talk poetry, right?

People love to get all down into it talking about metaphors and shit, and yeah, okay, metaphors are important but y'all running before you can fucking walk.

You need to learn to make a poem taste right first.
I am aware this makes me sound crazy, but a poems gotta taste right.

And I'm not talking fucking... Meter and syllables and counting the beats and shit. Get out of your own head. I'm talking the way it moves in the mouth. That's why I said taste.
You'll know a poem sitting on good foundations when it moves right. When you don't stumble over a word or letter that's just a bit too long.

Syllables don't mean shit.

Pariah and turpentine both have three syllables but they take different times to say.
And of course there's the stresses and that but don't go mapping them out like I had to for my degree, it'll break your brain and you'll struggle to write. Read your poem alous. Taste the words. Feel how you say them. Feel where the focus is. Where the importance lies.
A good poem moves like the ocean. It rushes like waves. There are moments of speed and power. There are moments of stillness and thought. There is urgency. There is pause.

A good poem is alive.
A good poem keeps moving. It guides people. It helps them on their journey but it doesn't force them into place.

A good poem flows. Or is jerky and disconnected. A good poem is deliberately those things. A good poem uses those things.
A good poem is a living thing. A good poem comes alive with each person that reads it. A good poem is consistent in every mouth, but unique and personal in every heart.
A good poem isn't about assonance or sibilance or metaphor or simile or meter or stress or alliteration or onomatopoeia or rhyme.

A good poem is aware of the existence of those things, and aware that it doesn't need to focus on them to be a good poem.
A good poem isn't in the technique or in the study or in the taking it apart.

A good poem is in the heart. A good poem is in the air. A good poem is on the edge of your lips.
When you sit to write a poem, don't think of long words that just describe words, think of what you want to say, of how you want it to make people feel, of how you want it to progress, think of where you want the focus, and what kind of journey you want the audience to take.
A poem is a living thing, you have to shape it with care, because every letter, every beat, every pause and point and image, they matter.

Get out of your own head. Get into the poem.
Just... Don't overthink it. And for God's sake, make sure the poem tastes right.
Signed: someone's who has actually won awards for their poetry and still doesn't know what most of the words that describe different types of words mean (don't tell me. At this point I'm kind of proud of it and it's good for proving a point when teaching kids)
(I'm serious though. Tell me what a verb is and I will fucking block you. I don't even care. And then I will fully forget what you told me in about a week. Do not test me.)
(one day I might actually rewrite this thread in a more coherent and helpful manner, with more examples and less swearing. But it's late. So stream of consciousness is all you're getting tonight.)
Okay, it turns out I can't sleep, so let's get into it...
Right, so let's look at this opening to one of my poems.

I'm gonna change some absolutely tiny and seemingly inconsequential things in line three and try to explain how and why that changes the taste of the poem. It's nearing midnight. Let's do it.
So, we've got line three, and I've added the word "that". Read the original in the tweet above out loud, then read this one. Feel how your tongue seems to get tangled in the weeds. How having to shape the word "that" trips you up, and takes away from the double h of "his hands"
The extra word also plays with the stress patterns, and leads focus away from "hands" as the core of the line. It only shifts things a touch, but it's like walking around your house in the dark and finding someone moved all your stuff half an inch to the left. It's wrong.
Okay, maybe adding an extra word is a bit much, maybe you're like... What would a smaller change do? Okay.
Back to the original, and another tweak to line three. I changed "do not" to "don't".

Feel how it pushes the whole poem off kilter?
Theres a lot to unpcak with the change from "do not" to "don't".

So, firstly: The removal of the "o" in not removes the mirror of the "o"'s in the line above. Most importantly the "o" in "for", as the "o" in "so" already finds a mirror in the "long" that follows it.
Then there's the change in stress patterns caused by the change from "do not" to "don't"

"do not" and "know" have all the "n" and "o" sounds playing around each other, they're the focus. "don't" has much more of a focus on the "d" and "t" removing the mirroring effect.
Having typed all of this out, I need you to know that this is nothing like how I think when I write. In fact, this analysis was really the first time I thought of it in these terms. When I write I think only of the taste.
It's so easy to overthink a poem, but you know more than you can possibly imagine, it's a sense, just like taste is, you don't have to think about it. You feel it. You know.

Taste your poems. You'll know when they're right.
I hope you enjoyed your glimpses of the magical web of complexity behind a poem, though.

That's what makes it a poem. That, and a little bit of love.
(wow, okay, ppl liked this. Jsyk, I'm available to teach poetry in schools, writing groups, clubs, whatever, I don't care where, to people of any age or ability. Check out my website for more info: jayhulme.com)
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