Spread Your Poetic Wings
by jack belck
Poetry places are full of personal stories sharing one thing: they offer descriptions of what happened but rarely WHY it happened, and that leaves lots of room for poetry that digs into causes. A girl's poem about being dumped by the love of her life will be damp with poetical tears. Nothing new there. It happens all the time. So ask why? A weak poet could make either actor in this little episode the villain. So easy! But a sweet girl abused by a slimy boyfriend makes for a boring "what's new about that?" read. Instead, make the story an attention getter: She deliberately made herself unlikeable to drive him away, but why? Or he did the same to her. Why?
Try something like this: girl has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother. Nice, safe, ordinary personal story. Granny dies and a lawyer gives her a sealed carton described in the will as a gift for the granddaughter. And what's in it? Jewelry? Photographs? Money? Nah. The girl goes nuts trying to figure out WHY the carton offers up only a pair of handcuffs, a whip and two tickets to the 1939 World's Fair.
To give your readers something to think about and enjoy, all you have to do is add twists and turnings to ordinary tales that will make your poems sought after and put at the top of almost everybody's reading list.