Perhaps it is best to first consider the reader’s point of view. The reader must realize that someone with great imagination (the poet) wants to communicate with him or her. The poet is attempting to reveal the world in new ways, to give the reader a fresh view, perhaps an unexpected view. To do this, the poet carefully selects his words, uses them in unique ways, and arranges them in subtle and complex manners.
The words and their arrangement take on new qualities through rhythm, rhyme, symbol, repetition, meter, and image—all appealing to and revealing the five senses. This means the poem will look different from prose on the page. Its appearance is important, for the arrangement often relates to its meaning. The reader may have to work hard to find that meaning—but once he or she discovers it, wow!
There are three types of poetry: narrative, lyric, and dramatic. The narrative tells a story; the lyric (it has many forms) expresses emotion; and the dramatic, similar to the narrative, makes more extensive use of dialogue. The finer points of these types will appear in separate articles.
L. Luis Lopez has written three books of poetry: Musings of a Barrio Sack Boy, winner of an Honorable Mention in the 2000 Writer’s Digest poetry competition; A Painting of Sand; and Each Month I Sing, which was granted the American Book Award 2008 and the CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association) EVVY first place in poetry award 2008. Luis teaches Latin, Ancient Greek, and Mythology at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He offers workshops in reading and writing poetry. In addition, he and his wife, Maggie, are owners of Farolito Press. Visit his Web site at http://www.lluislopez.com/.