It takes a lot of passion and dedication to craft a truly good poem. rebekahELLE, a judge on the poetry panel of the upcoming, HubPatron of the Arts contest knows this well, and will be reviewing entries carefully, looking for telltale signs of quality.
Are you curious to learn more about rebekahELLE’s poetry background, or to know what she’ll be looking for in poetry entries? Have a look at the interview below for the scoop!
HubPages: What is the first poem you can remember reading or writing?
RebekahELLE: The first poem that I remember writing was a whimsical poem about a horse riding over a rainbow. I was in elementary school and had an active imagination. It was for a writing assignment involving different styles of poetry. We could write our own and include favorite poems we had read. I remember working hard on the assignment and used colored pencils to write my poem. I received an A on the project. I still have the project in a box of keepsakes my mom saved for me.
The first poem I remember from elementary education was, Hiawatha’s Departure from The Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I loved the narrative story telling feel of the poem, the rhyme and meter, nature as the setting. We had to read it out loud for practice in how to recite poetry. The lines are etched into my memory.
The first poem that I remember reading which had a profoundly lyrical effect on me was The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. I was immensely drawn into the poem by his lyrical use of composition, and his use of symbols. All great poetry is meant to be read out loud, and this poem is as beautiful to speak as it is to hear. His use of ancient, poetic sounding words, and almost mathematical exactness in his structure was fascinating to me (and still is). “And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;” is poetic tension so poetic that we must keep reading. We can visualize the man as he sits in his melancholy, anticipating what is this ‘rapping at my shutter door.’ There is great beauty in The Raven and he was able to achieve this universal theme with the use of sadness and melancholy. A poet can see beauty in the purest of manifestations, and what is more profoundly pure than genuine sadness? We are complex human beings with layers of emotions. A true poet has the ability to penetrate those layers and make life more transparent and expose our vulnerability.
Did it influence your approach to poetry from that moment on?
It influenced what I wanted to read. I was first drawn to poetry that told stories. I read a lot. I think anyone serious about writing poetry must read poetry, extensively. I exposed myself to different time periods and styles and found that I loved many different kinds of poets. I love the narrative form, and the ability of allowing a poem to have a life of its own. Whether it’s short or 108 lines, a poem should be able to evoke an emotion or paint a picture. It should have structure and purpose.
One simply has to start writing (after a lot of reading) and crafting words like a work of art. A poem is not born without some degree of labor. Some poems flow easily, others require more time and construction. I have found that I see my world poetically, which doesn’t so much mean lyrically, but life itself is poetry to me. When I walk outside and hear a bird chirping, it is poetry. What is the song of this little red bird? The willow that weeps and bends gracefully to the earth reminds me to bend gently and show compassion to others. So I write about a young boy learning wisdom from the willow as he stands amongst the trees.
You share in your bio that you have been a teacher for quite some time. Have you ever taught poetry?
I teach in the field of early childhood, and while we do read poetry, my little ones are not ready to write poetry. In one sense, there is an element of instruction in reading it to them and allowing them to hear the rhymes and lyrical sounds of poetry. Young children love rhymes and rhythm and phrases that are fun to hear and say. It’s important for them to hear and learn children’s poems, nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss type books. Language is meant to communicate and educate. Even very young babies love hearing songs and rhymes.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the world of poetry today (Lack of structure? Lack of readership? Lack of something else?) and how do you think it can be overcome?
I’m not sure what the biggest issue is, but certainly one big issue is publishing. Now with digital publishing so easily accessible, poets aren’t receiving the necessary critiques and reviews which help new writers improve their craft. They want their work out there and think it’s easier to self-publish. When anyone can self-publish, a lot of good poetry is going to require a lot more work on the poet’s part to get noticed. How does one overcome this? I don’t think there is an easy solution. Serious poets should be submitting their work to poetry magazines and reputable online poetry sites, reading current poetry news, entering contests. Find poetry workshops or poetry clubs in your community and get involved. And keep writing, and editing. Stay inspired.
Do you have any particular process you go through when you write a poem?
Yes and no. I think any poet would agree that some poems are ready to be written. All that is needed is something to write with and on, whether it’s a sheet of paper or the side of a box. I once wrote a short poem in the bathtub. Inspiration struck. I grabbed whatever I could reach, which was an eyebrow pencil and a pamphlet about how to apply eye makeup! I was writing it for an artist friend who had shown me one of his b&w photographs of an anhinga bird. He loved it. I have collaborated with various visual artists/photographers, which I find to be very exciting work. I have composed poetry for specific paintings/photographs.
I worked with a fashion photographer from Berlin on a photo shoot theme. He loved using fairy tale and historical themes. I wrote a fantasy love poem about rose petals from Berlin, which he used as inspiration for his theme. We communicated through writings, which for him was quite tedious, as he had to translate his writings into English and look up words he didn’t recognize. He was extremely grateful for the discipline of learning more of the English language. I now have my reward hanging on my bedroom wall.
What I do need as part of the writing process is quiet. I can’t tap into my depths without quiet and a degree of solitude. I need the alone time to quiet my very active, sometimes, over -stimulated brain. Once I find that place, I start writing. It may take hours, days or months. I generally have an idea of what I’m going to write, or I have been inspired by something or someone. I once wrote a poem titled, Collateral Damage, in response to the war in Croatia. Sadly, I can’t find the poem. I feel it was one of my most inspired poems. I had given it to an ex-Marine friend of mine with whom I have lost touch. I have learned since then to keep copies of my work. Another poem took months to write. I have published a Hub about the process and the poem, A Poem about a Monet Painting ‘Le Jardin’. It has been one of my most successful Hubs.
As a judge on the poetry panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in entries?
I’m very excited and thrilled to be a part of the panel! Thank you so much for asking me to be a part of this contest. I’m very grateful that arts are being highlighted on HubPages, as HP has an awesome community of artists and poets. I will be looking for the author’s voice first and foremost. Does the poem have form and substance? Does it evoke an emotion? Is it complete or does it leave the reader wondering if it’s finished? Does it read well and flow? Are you proud to have your name attached as the author to your entry? Be authentic, passionate, spell check and edit! I’m certain it’s not going to be easy to judge such quality work, but I’m ready and excited. Enjoy the process and best of luck to all who enter!
Do you have any other advice for aspiring poets on HubPages?
Learn to see through poetic eyes. Write your thoughts in a notebook. Practice writing about anything. It doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, it won’t be perfect. It doesn’t need to be in poetic form, but the more your practice using you poetic sense, your thoughts and expressions will more and more be conveyed poetically. Then when you feel like composing a poem, sit down and look through this notebook, and choose one of your entries to start writing. Read a lot of poetry. Reread favorites. Read them out loud. Subscribe to a poetry magazine or sign up for newsletters from reputable poetry sites. Publish only your best if you want to be read. Remember why you’re writing. Much success to each of you! Thank you for reading. And thank you, HubPages, for the opportunity to publish our poetry here and for giving so many a platform which enables ease of publishing and is open to a global audience.
For more information about the HubPatron of the Arts contest, visit the official contest page.