The Human Season by John KeatsThis web page is part of a larger project I am doing to complete my graduate degree at California State University, Fullerton. Hopefully, when I am finished, I will have a dynamic web page that folks can use for free or with my printed poetry handbook (hey, you have to dream big).
Four seasons fill the measure of the year;
Four seasons are there in the mind of man.
He hath his lusty spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He hath his summer, when luxuriously
He chews the honied cud of fair spring thoughts,
Till, in his soul dissolv'd, they come to be
Part of himself. He hath his autumn ports
And havens of repose, when his tired wings
Are folded up, and he content to look
On mists in idleness: to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He hath his winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forget his mortal nature.
So what do you need to know to navigate this site?
I use the concept of "seasons" to help parse the huge field of poetry writing into something a bit more manageable. Each season I associate with certain aspects we might find in poetry "of that season" (as I have determined). Think of these seasons as doorways into the world of poetry, each one offering you a "way into" creating new and exciting poetry. Let's say you're feeling down, so you log on and check out the Winter section - not only do you find lots of poets flogging the same pains you might be going through, but you also see how they write about those pains or worries. Then, maybe, you feel like trying out a poem of your own, so you check out the exercises and try something out. Work in one season or bounce around; how you navigate the seasons is completely up to you. Here are the seasons with their subheadings:
Summer Poetry emphasizes passion, adventure, sensuality, willfulness, and a healthy amount of confession.
Autumn Poetry is often about war, heroism, loss, longing, and feelings of emptiness (or even physical emptiness. This is where you might find T.S. Eliot's famous poem, The Waste Land.
Winter Poetry has a bit of a split personality - there's pain and struggle, but there is also wit and solipsism, the things that help us to ultimately persevere.
Spring Poetry is all about renewal, in the natural sense and the spiritual sense, and it is also about connection (with one another and with the natural world), and a fair amount of romance. If you think this sounds like Walt Whitman, you are correct!
These seasons are not meant to be compartments or traps to fall into; rather, they are here to serve only the purpose of ease of use and navigation. You could very likely be reading a Spring Poet like Ginsberg and see him slip right into Winter Poetry. That's only natural. The heading of "spring" just led you to him; you decide what you do with him after you read him. I try my best here to keep from telling you how to think about a poem or a poet or a concept. I just want to offer you a place to start.
This isn't really a "how to" write poetry site so much as it is a site to go to when you are looking for ideas or inspiration. It's built very much as I might conduct a class - offering a little discussion to spark the imagination, but nothing too deep so you don't get lost in the "lesson" rather than in writing.
And that's really the point. You should be writing... like right now.
Can't think of anything? Let me offer some help... Here you will find:
- A quick introduction to each of the "seasons" and some thoughts on the aspects of those seasons
- Then I offer you an extensive data base of poets with links to their poetry - reading good poetry often leads to writing great poetry (or at least writing some poetry)
- You can also take a look at some different forms of poetry. Who says you need an idea? Just start filling in a form and - bam! - you get a poem! (again, the point is to write it... not to perfect it... yet)
- Eventually, I will be suggesting exercises to help you get into a writing mindset (nothing I wouldn't do myself...)
- Finally, for your entertainment and, perhaps, ridicule, I put my art where my mouth is and I take on the exercises myself, offering you my own examples of work. And, no, I won't polish them up... I want to make the point that writing, even when it is terrible, is still writing... and that is something.
NOTE: This site is under construction. I know that there are several spelling, syntax, grammar and maybe even html errors throughout, which I fully intend to fix in the coming month. However, for now, please enjoy the site in its rough form. JD