WSC Lyric Poetry Writing Workshop

WSC Lyric Poetry Writing Workshop

WSC Lyric Poetry Writing Workshop will discuss the use of poetic devices including imagery, metaphor, and verbal irony. Notable poets in this genre include Robert Browning, John Keats, Michael Ondaatje, and Charles Baudelaire.  

Lyric poetry is a genre that, unlike epic and dramatic poetry, does not attempt to tell a story but instead is of a more personal nature. Poems in this genre tend to be shorter, melodic, and contemplative. Rather than depicting characters and actions, it portrays the poet’s own feelings, states of mind, and perceptions. 

Building upon the last workshop’s experimentation with Confessional Poetry and including the “I”, or yourself, in the poem, this workshop focuses on the characterizing of the poet’s emotions and feelings with regards to a particular issue, idea, or emotion.  In order to reveal these feelings precisely and with impact, the poet must avoid explaining the reasons for these strong feelings. In turn, the poet uses all sensory details to lyrically create a state of mind that best portrays how the author/poet feels about the issue.

In order to frame these poems properly, you need to select an issue instead of a general abstraction in this workshop.  The issue will dictate the context from which you pull your images.  Remember, don’t forget about the use of all of your senses. 

The images you select will most likely come from the same context, but more importantly, be diverse with regards to the senses.  So, incorporate sound, touch, smell, and sight when you select your images and metaphors for this type of poetry.

Writing Process

After selecting a idea or perception of a cultural issue, the poet will use imagery to represent what he/she feels about the issue without directly stating it in the poem.

You can experiment with the sonnet form or ode form for this assignment, but note, sonnets require particular rhyme schemes and word beats, so abide by a specific structure if so interested.

Poetic Devices

Poetic devices used in lyric poetry include imagery, metaphor, verbal irony, and research with analysis of a cultural issue.

In lyrical poetry, in comparison to the other types of poetry I have discussed, the abstraction becomes an issue of more global relevance. Further,
~ the poet’s feelings and emotions are relating to a particular issue such as war or poverty (similar to SOC) rather than a general abstraction such as fear or love (as is common in Philosophical or Confessional poetry)
~ the lyric poet does not explicitly explaining the reasons for these strong feelings as is very evident in Gibran’s poetry
~ compared with Ginsberg’s SOC styled poems, the ‘issue’ is there but in lyric poetry it is less personal, more analytical
~ compared to Ginsberg’s ‘enjambment’ of the images and metaphors, Keats, for example, brings rhythm, punctuation and structure in to the poem to ‘organize’ the descriptive language
~ in lyric poetry, the reader needs to work a bit harder to translate sensory details to determine the poet’s state of mind about the issue
~ the lyric poet uses images in the context to give us clues to the issue
~ in order to write lyric poetry, the writer needs to know the issue with some depth of researched understanding
~ I find it challenging to bring the knowledge base, the verbal irony, comparisons and personal standing on an issue together with the lyric style
~ it seems to be a style that stretches my poetry writing skills: both as the writer and the reader of lyric poetry written by others

Wordsworth, Keats and the Ode

Although I follow my poem, The Pilgrimage, with the Ode to Melancholy, by John Keats, I have maintained the ABAB rhythm. Keats, on the other hand, uses the ABAB pattern followed by an irregular pattern in each stanza.

Keats and William Wordsworth were such poets who wrote irregular odes extensively. Without any formal rhyme scheme it offers the poet greater freedom. Different moods and abstractions could be explored with greater flexibility.

Have fun!

~ namasté, Leah J. 🕊

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