What Exactly is Poetry?

Poem; noun: “A piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.” This is the standard definition of poetry found in the Oxford Dictionary. Yet, like most art, poetry does not always abide by expectations. Like many poets, I struggle to define what exactly poetry is. Is it when words become an ocean, waves of emotion crashing onto the reader? Or perhaps poetry is simply a bowl of letters squished together to form a jumble of words. However you define poetry, I think most can agree that it is a beautiful form of art. The first poem dates back to the third millennium B.C.E. in ancient Mesopotamia,author unknown. It was called The Epic of Gilgamesh. Many Kennett students are familiar with this tale, but for those of you who have not yet read it, the story follows a Sumerian king named Gilgamesh as he slays monsters with his best friend Enkidu while also searching for immortality. You start to notice that the Epic of Gilgamesh does not follow the standard form of poetry, with all the text on one side, rhyme and rhyme being present. The tale is considered to be an epic poem. Poetry does not need to have rhythm or be very long. In fact, Muhammad Ali’s poem is considered to be one of the shortest poems written, consisting of only two words: “Me We.” It just goes to show that there are many forms of poetry. If you would like to know more, check out this article on poetic form. In the end, poetry is simply a form of art and can be interpreted however you see fit.

What to learn more about Gilgamesh? Check out this video: The Epic of Gilgamesh: Crash Course World Mythology

Here are some videos to help you write amazing poems:

The poet who painted with his words

The pleasure of poetic pattern

Become a slam poet in five steps

What makes a poem…a poem?

— Maya Ross