I Think Too Much To Write Good Poetry

Poetry, though it's an intellectual art, cannot be overthought.
Otherwise you end up thinking
"Hey, it's been a long time since I've even read, let alone written, a villanelle. I shall wiki it and see the structure again."

And then upon seeing the structure you will think
"perhaps I can do it. I've done it before, though never well."
 And then upon realising that you're not particularly feeling anything to write a villanelle about you'll end up analysing the word itself and seeing the word "ville" in it (though it isn't really there) and deciding that since "ville" means city you'll write about the city you once called home.

And it'll still suck. It'll still turn into an awkward melancholic love-song that's pretty much meaningless. And it'll be filled with cliched statements and awkward turns of phrase.

But you'll be an eensy bit proud because you actually managed to do it and all in the matter of a half hour or so. Even though you did engage in the trickery of half-rhymes - you also managed some decent alliteration.

And then you'll realise that even though mostly you hate it but are a little bit proud that doesn't really matter cause you have no one to share it with: you're not in a class any longer, your sleeping husband dislikes poetry, and you're pretty sure no one will be impressed.

So then you'll think
"well, hey, I have a blog. And hardly anyone reads it. But that's actually a bit of a bonus cause now I can put this poem - this vilanelle, if you will - up there and it wouldn't be hardly as embarassing as if there were a hundred people reading it."

And the bonus is that you know someone will actually say something nice about it. Which, let's admit it, is the whole reason you've engaged in that charade.

And that, my friends, is the reason why you should never over-think the whole poetry process. Because then you end up with a mess, like grafitti sprayed on pristine walls, posted to your blog and your poor dear readers will have to be subjected to said mess.

Though I suppose they could just not read. After all, most don't (can you hear the violins). And you never did claim to be the next Dylan Thomas

A Villanelle pour Ma Ville
(You can never go home again)

Her streets wind proud,
And strong with stone,
Where footsteps ring loud.
Candy-coated crowd
Of clustered homes -
Her streets wind proud.

Art lived aloud,
In graffiti-hued tones,
Where footsteps ring loud,

Boutique endowed
And pubs set down
Her streets wind proud.

The hill is a cloud;
The ocean a groan,
Where footsteps ring loud.

Natives disavowed
Can never go home.
Her streets wind proud,
Where footsteps ring loud.


  1. Hey! Thanks for the visit to my blog and I have to say, very excited to find you. I love the "vilanelle" and think you could have posted that even if you had over 100 followers :-)

    Also digging the religion discussion. THIS we must chat about at some time...

  2. YAY! I knew someone would say something nice. Thanks Shari.

    I've been going back through your blog too since Naomi introduced me to it. Hate it when I find a blog and then feel like I'm missing out on a gazillion things because I'm a latecomer!

  3. You should be more than an eensy wincy bit proud. You should be proudsville! My married name is always get misspelt with ville in it.

    I love the candy coated crowd of clustered homes. What a great line.

    I take my hat off to anyone who does poetry. I can't do it for toffee!

  4. Terrible grammar in that comment. Sorry!

  5. That's it. I'm referring to myself as a "native disavowed" from now on.

  6. @Allison: Thanks! Though I think had I ever shown such a thing to my creative writing class in uni it would have been torn to pieces. And don't mind the grammar - you've got kids, no?
    @Francie: I did like that one! That and the candy coated crowd of clustered homes are my favourite lines -might actually use them in a rewrite of some sort and do something a little more impressive (A Sonnet to St. John's?)

  7. You're just showing off now! Very good :) Be very proud!

  8. Hey!! I like this!!! When I was in my MFA program (for poetry writing no less) I took a class where we had to write villanelles and sonnets and pantoums and oh!! how I hated to do the form poetry. It was SO HARD. And of course there were poets in my class who were so good at it. And even made them sound intersting and quirky and modern!! I hated them even more. And now I hate you. (Just a little bit anyway.) Cuz you did a kickass job with that villanelle. And I love the repetition of "where footsteps ring loud." And the candy coated crowd. So beautiful.

  9. I love it! There's absolutely no reason to hate it... :)


Have something to add? Let us know: