Poems are an incredible way to learn more about life. Though we often underestimate the power of poetry, history has shown that it can be a valuable way to look at the human soul, understanding the complications of life, and much more.
In this way, it functions very similarly in culture to music—poetry connects with the public, further inspiring them to be vulnerable and share with others.
However, despite what you might think, poetry isn't an esoteric tradition that is inaccessible from the outside. In fact, reading and writing poetry is very accessible and wonderful for people of all backgrounds. In this guide, we'll be taking the time to demystify the process for you so you can learn more about how poetry is one of the most dynamic art forms currently available.
Online Poem Collections
One of the best parts about poetry is that there are often incredibly detailed archives available on the internet for free, allowing you to get a glimpse not just of modern poetry's history but also a general trajectory of the tradition.
With online collections, you can find famous poems of a variety of genres. Whether you're looking for love poems, poems about life or even poems for kids, there are many different resources that truly have something for everyone. Something that also makes online collections incredibly convenient is the fact that they often have great organization methods that allow you to sort poems in multiple different ways. By using online collections, you're not bound to a single organization method in an anthology. You're also not bound to simply famous poems, as many online collections also have modern selections from contemporary authors.
Here are some examples of useful poetry collections that are accessible online:
Writing Your Own Poems
As an art form that appears to have such a vivid history, it's easy to get lost in the many different ways to approach the tradition. There are many different methods to use when writing poetry, it is truly something that doesn't follow a specific form. In the same way that you can use painting to express yourself in any way you'd like, words function like a paintbrush in poetry.
You can learn technique in poetry, but ultimately the initial drive must come from within. If you can't share how you're honestly feeling in the poetry you want to write, it won't be an effective representation of your perspective on the world.
That being said, it can be very useful to study your favorite poets and poems. It's important to think carefully about what they are saying and specifically how they say it. Through knowing how your favorite poets use the language, you'll be able to develop a vocabulary that you can then use with your own poems.
However, at the end of the day the poems that you write must be created with the goal of expressing yourself. This is because poetry is less focused on whether or not it's qualitatively good, but rather if it is an accurate portrayal of the author's feelings.
Famous Poem Authors
One of the wonderful things about poetry is that it is often tied with the image of "the common man". Many poets over the years have spoken about things we can all relate to as a way of finding beauty in life, bringing careful observations to show how nuanced and careful life can be.
This is why somebody like Walt Whitman could become one of the most famous poets in the history of the United States. As a gay poet who resided in Brooklyn for a majority of his life, Whitman would write about his life in the cultural zeitgeist of America, covering both personal and national events. This is why one of his most famous poems O Captain! My Captain! (written about the then recent assassination of Abraham Lincoln) held so much weight in the public eye. Whitman also spent most of his life editing a collection of poems that would remain his magnum opus, Leaves of Grass.
Frank O'Hara is an example of a poet who takes the idea of personal in a more literal sense than Whitman did, embracing incredibly mundane activities to look more into the human condition. His collection of poems called Lunch Poems is unified by the premise of him having written each poem while on his lunch break at work, allowing him to take a closer look at New York City, his own feelings about the world, and cultural events such as the passing of Billie Holiday.