Poetry Is Not About Keeping a Diary

     Regardless of what it might often seem like, poetry is not about keeping a diary, but capturing moments and ideas, real or imagined, that are worth being recorded as a memoir of the human experience as a whole. We do not assume that all of Shakespeare’s sonnets were written about someone he knows. They might have been inspired, but to call them so personal is to degrade their value as a whole.

     Poetry is not about truth in experience; it is about truth in outlook. When I write, I almost always end up turning the poem around in the last few lines, in order to offer the glimpse of the hope at the end of a storm I see as essential to a happy outlook. Others might write differently, to match their outlook on the world.
     Furthermore, some of the best writing is the over-exaggerated type. Few get excited over mediocre love or sadness, but not everyone lives in such a wildly emotional world, and they’re lucky to be so.

So the right thing would be to stop, stop the assumptions. A writer is not always writing about themselves, just as a painter is not always painting something she can see.

5 thoughts on “Poetry Is Not About Keeping a Diary”

  1. Pardon me if I, in part, disagree. Poetry is whatever the writer wants it to be. It is not about what you want it to be. Poetry is free to be whatever the writer wants it to be. It is the one form of writing where there are no rules. If one desires others to read it then they are writing for adoration. If they simply write because it sets them free, then the poetry is free to be what ever the writer wants it to be. Even if it is a diary of sorrow and pain or joy and happiness.


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