Take the Poetry Challenge

Right now I’m chairing the Redwood Writers 2013 poetry contest. The 300ish members of Redwood Writers who don’t know me will probably associate me with poetry now, but truth be told, the reason I volunteered was because it was the one contest I KNEW I’d never want to enter. The only thing I know about poetry is that Haiku doesn’t have to be 17 syllables, like I learned in elementary school.

But skimming through the contest poems as I numbered them and sent them off to the three esteemed judges, I caught the bug. I wanted to try it, too. I couldn’t enter the contest, but I could try my hand at writing a poem. I made up my own form (I think). One syllable for the first line, two for the second, and so on up to six, and then back to one. Here it is.

Syllables*

One
Perfect
Syllable
Is all I need
To say how I feel
About you and that girl
Yes, one syllable
Or maybe two
I think, two
Which two?
Guess

I suspect that a real poet would know that I only spent about four minutes on it, but we all have to start somewhere. And you never know when you’re going to accidentally create something that will last through the ages. I mean, when someone first wrote, “He who smelt it, dealt it,” do you think he or she knew it would be one of the most recited poems of all time?

And my poem is no Billy Collins or Dylan Thomas, but at least it doesn’t leave you thinking, “What the heck was THAT about?” I know this also marks me as a poetry novice, but I want to know what’s going on in a poem.

So here’s my challenge to you. Try something new. Write a poem. If you love meter, like me, think about the syllables. If you like rhyming poetry, make yours rhyme. If something’s pressing on your heart, put it in words, and double check the words to make sure your reader will feel the pressure, too.

Write a poem! And feel free to share it in the comments.

*This poem does not relate to my own life. It is especially not about Sean Millard.

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