“The crown of literature is poetry.” – W. Somerset Maugham
Since times immemorial, poetry has continued to enamour and baffle people at the same time. The beauty of poetry lies in the fact that it is unrestricted. As long as the words are born from your imagination and feelings, it is poetry. It has been regarded as the expression of the unexpressed, feeling of the unfelt and provided means to envision imageries which naked eyes could never see. On the other side of the spectrum, there are also some who find it too complex to understand, too long, too boring and various other not-so-pleasant things. Literature, including both prose and poetry, has undergone tremendous changes in terms of language, style and format. One can map the history of poetry beginning from “Canterbury Tales” by father of English poetry – Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century; followed by
- Renaissance age like Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Sidney;
- Metaphysical age like John Donne, Herbert and few others;
- Alexander Pope being the flag-bearer of the New Classical Age;
- Romantic Age where sonnets, odes, lyrical ballads were popularized by Lord Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats
- Victorian Age highlighted by poets like Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning
- Modern Age Robert Frost, T.S. Elliot, E.E. Cummings and many more.
In continuation of the Modern Age poetry and with the tradition of change, poetic forms have become more creative and innovative. It is no longer limited to rhyming pattern or words, meters or limited to forms such as sonnets, odes, ballads, limericks etc. In fact, in many cases poetry is not just about words, it is also visual. Let’s say hello to the “few” (because it is ever changing, just as the fleeting emotions of the poets!) of the new-age poetry…
- Haiku:- Okay, so something that began during 9th century in Japan is clearly anything but new. However, English poets learnt to adapt and adopt it only in the 1950s and when they did their haiku of 3 lines followed the format of 3-5-7 syllables. Since then it has undergone many changes including ignoring punctuations and writing haikus in single line.
- Palindromes:- Also known as Mirrored poetry, it is one of the most innovative as well as difficult poetry formats. The palindromic poem presents a challenge to writers in terms of both form and content. Not only must the poet use the same words in the second half of the poem as in the first, but the reverse reading must also make sense and hopefully relate to some kind of reversal of events or ideas, to make the poem’s form meaningful.
- Acrostic:- In an acrostic poem, the first letter of each line spells a word or phrase, usually using the same words as in the title. However, these can occur anywhere and not only restricted to the first letters of the lines.
- Shape poetry:– It literally means writing the poetry in a shape so as to depict its meaning. This kind of poetry leaves a deep impact not only due to its words and literary devices but also due to its significant physical shape. The combinational effect is indeed a visual treat.
- Diamante:- Diamante or diamond poem is a kind of shape poem of seven lines comprising of contrasting words, in the shape of a diamond. The rule for every line is as follows:
Line 1: Noun or subject
Line 2: Two Adjectives describing the first noun/subject
Line 3: Three -ing words describing the first noun/subject
Line 4: Four words: two about the first noun/subject, two about the antonym/synonym
Line 5: Three -ing words about the antonym/synonym
Line 6: Two adjectives describing the antonym/synonym
Line 7: Antonym/synonym for the subject
- Blackout poetry:- Personally, this is one of my favourites. It involves rearranging and refocusing on different words in an already published material. Also known as newspaper blackout poetry, it was first devised by Austin Kleon who redacted words from the newspaper using a black marker thereby creating a literal and visual effect of the remaining words. This probably doesn’t follow the norms of a poem, but the novelty lies in the fact that a beautiful thought is extracted from an already published literature.
So these are just a few drops in the ocean of Modern poetry. Besides, it is the creative freedom and poetic license that always encourage to increase the vastness of this ocean…Hope you too may take a dip in it!