What Inspires a Great Contemporary Poem?

What Inspires a Great Contemporary Poem by Elle Smith of Inspired By Elle


Poetry has definitely seen a revival in the last century, as it has shaken off historic images and become more flexible and contemporary. We are all now adept to recognize poetry presented in different formats like haiku, verse, ode, limerick and ballards to name a few more recognizable styles.

The availability of many styles has certainly increased the appeal and readership. There is new responsibility before poets, in terms of continuing this trend of popularity. However, before any poet actually pens their verse on paper much thought and even research is often conducted in order to achieve a great poem. Below we will decipher exactly what inspires a great contemporary poem.


Where do poets gain inspiration?


Poets are not unlike most of us, treading the path of life, and so are influenced by their experiences. Heartbreaks, disaster, greatest loves and best relationships all play their part. The environment of the poet plays a part also on several levels, simplistically to inspire tranquility to compose, or from nature's wonders providing physical inspiration.

It is not always the case though, as some poets have the rare ability to leapfrog into situations, and view from the inside out. This unique line of sight can inspire poetry as if a direct bystander as the events unfold, without any actual experience of the situation in play.

The most compelling poems are often inspired by real life events that the poet has experienced. It is with this knowledge that they can draft lines of verse, which enter the soul of the reader, where those words twist and ripple through the mind. Any poet would be extremely elated, if their composition was enough to rip up the heart of the reader by its mere existence.


Creating the Idea?


Writing a great poem requires planning after an idea is decided upon for the core concept of the poem. The greater the planning of this stage, the greater the manifestation of the final results, as this will be eloquent and stylish.

There are many examples of this in famous poems like 'If' by Rudyard Kipling, which speaks of virtues which signal the making of a man. Clearly, the idea was exactly, that and thought was given to the various skills and characteristics which would demonstrate that idea.


Composing the poem


Rhythm is very important to poetry, and getting this wrong can totally affect the sense of the poem. Rush too much for a serious poem, and the meaning is lost. Too slow for a lively poem, and you lose the reader's attention. 'Poetry is making music with words', and poetry writing is actually not that dissimilar to songwriting in fact.

Like composing a story, there must be a beginning, middle and end; with the end providing a grand crescendo to the event or story being told in your verse. Following this principle allows you to plan the order of the various verses, as a natural order will help the audience to identify with your poetry more, rather than random verse which jumps around. This is particularly important with poetry, as unlike other literary forms, poetry is compact. You have limited time to grab the attention of your reader, take them to the zone, play out your story with meaningful impact. The window of attention is very short before you could lose the reader. However, if you have already taken them by the hand, and are leading them on an enjoyable adventure, they will stay to watch (or in fact read) as the adventure plays out.


 A Contemporary Idea


Life is definitely a process of learning under various conditions and within unique situations. Our parents play a major role in teaching us those life lessons, and demonstrating often by example the pitfalls and issues we may eventually face. However, many parents do not even reach the stage to impart these pearls of wisdom for one reason or another. I recall my own Mum expressing painfully how she had lost her own Mum when she was in junior school at a tender age. She as a result had to learn lessons in life through trial and error, which still has its place, but makes for a perilous time. 

It struck me that a poem tackling this issue would be a great contemporary theme, what would you write in a poem to your future child?. What have you learned that unlocks life? What things could you impart to them to save them from potential problems? What advice could you offer now to unlock the matrix of life? This topic or more importantly questions would be the basis for my poem.

I had imagined it - the idea was set: I would write to "My Future Child".

This was indeed a rare occasion, as usually I do not compose a title until I complete the poetry. Often, much thought and consideration is needed to exactly match the words to a title. Even here the wrong title could spell disaster for the poem. Luckily the idea had already determined the title.

Perhaps now most difficult part would be selecting what advice would be so compelling to live life well; and what would you place within the limited lines of poetry. I had decided that a message of love should be paramount on many levels, not least that it determines our happiness ultimately, but on a parallel level, that I would want my own child to know of how deeply I love them. 

Probably the other most important message that I wanted to convey was that mistakes were just part of the learning process, even if at times they would seem costly. My poetry is always purposeful, and I strive to gently ease the reader to examine alternative perspectives, to challenge their beliefs and hopefully deliver a wiser person at the end of the poetry.

Personally, I see poetry as a medium which is light and easy to absorb, unlike the vast amounts of media cluttering the airwaves and our social tools. Most people are now limited in their reading time, and so welcome the new age of quotes and poetry. Equally, this poem is written as if speaking to your own child, so parents can hopefully narrate this text to their child in years to come. It is important for poetry to stand the test of time.

You can read the completed verse in the form of my poem, 'My Future Child' by clicking on the text here.

I actually have a poetry blog called 'A Poem A Day', which has many of my popular poems listed. Please feel free to comment below a sit would great to hear whether this post has inspired you to compose your own original poem or verse?


Elle Smith

20 August 2017 


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