Poetic License

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valery

I have a lot of respect for poets. I wish I could do what they do. My great-great-great grandfather was a poet. He wrote some of it as an underage kid fighting in the Civil War. I have a great admiration for the things he wrote, especially considering his writing environment. I’ve always felt a common artistic bond with him.

A lot of people who read my writing assume that I must also write poetry. I have a pretty literary style and like to work with sounds and syllables. Unfortunately, I’ve never learned to write it, though I do jokingly call myself a warrior-poet.

Poetry has rules, oddly complex ones that require the bending of words into works of art. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

I do like poetry, though. I use it regularly as an impromptu writing prompt if I feel like writing a short story but don’t really know what I want to write about. I stole the idea from Ray Bradbury, who wrote a very famous short story called “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Bradbury, who is a huge fan of poetry, got the inspiration from a poem of the same name by Sara Teasdale.

I’ve come up with a couple of good stories by taking inspiration from various poets. I’ve used Dickinson, Poe, and Plath for different beginnings.

Poetry has a sense of economy that I admire. Every word has to mean something. Part of the reason I love to write flash fiction is because it utilizes that economy. When you don’t have endless amounts of space, you are forced to be more creative in your transmission of plot and theme.

That sort of creativity has given birth to what I believe to be some of my best writing. It’s exciting, fresh, and pungent. They are more art than story.

Unfortunately, poetry has been forgotten a bit in the modern era. There are still poets out there, but there are fewer places for them to showcase their art.

It’s a shame really, in the modern ADHD world, poems, especially short ones, can be read in a few minutes. While interpretation of poems can be an endurance sport, the initial feelings they produce are immediate.

This really could be the era of the poem and the short-story. Unfortunately, with the apparent downfall of our public education system in the areas of reading and writing, we aren’t exactly exposing kids to enough short creative writing,

Fortunately, for all of you, that is a rant for another time and place.

Still, for anyone who is a writer, or wants to be a writer, there is something to be learned from reading poetry. It doesn’t have to be intimidating and it doesn’t require any special skill. Let the academics analyze till their hearts are content. All you have to be able to say is whether you liked the poem or not.

When it comes down to it, all writing is about opening your soul and letting it drain upon the keyboard. Poets are never afraid to write with feeling. We shouldn’t be afraid to follow their example as writers or readers.


Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at www.jackcampbelljr.com.

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