Have you ever read a quote or poem and disagreed with the contents? Don’t just shake your head or roll your eyes about it. Grab your pen and paper and write a rebuttal. And even if you don’t disagree with the poem, you could write an opposing view of it. Respond to the poem in an original way and make it something brand new. Response poetry is a method poets have been using for many years, and we probably don’t realize we do it ourselves because there are several ways a poet can reciprocate.
Another way to respond to a poem is by using imitation. In an article written by T.S Eliot about playwright Philip Massinger, a most infamous quote taken from it reads:
One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.
Eliot insinuates one can borrow, but make sure the imitation is used to create something exclusive. A response could be to mimic another writer’s form, or build a poem off a particular line or metaphor. It is not stealing if you are inspired by a word or phrase, but make it count; make it spectacular and make it your own.
A response poem can be a reply to another poem, an editorial or even a letter. Poets are always filled with questions, so why not respond to one with your own words. Pick up a newspaper and scour the editorials for something interesting and compose a poem from how you would reply. If a significant other or a grandparent writes you a letter, use it as inspiration for a poem about relationships.
You can also step out of the box when writing a response poem. Take some risks. If another poet is comparing pain to a wilted flower, take it to another level and use an object not often used to describe pain. If you have been reading multiple posts on social media about someone enjoying perfect weather or the beautiful trees in the Fall, then write a poem describing your dog’s fear of thunderstorms or seeing beauty in things like a rusted car or broken eggshells. Take some time to observe the ordinary things that pass us by and use them as your muse.
Perhaps you have many poems you felt are not good enough to share. Revisit them and respond to them using the methods above; perhaps a better poem will surface. Sometimes you can pluck a few lines or phrases from your old poems to create something even more refreshing; you might be surprised by the responses you will get.
Written by: Donna J. Sanders
Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia – a poetry collection about the struggles we face, the state of the world and how to see beauty in the simplest things, and Cardboard Signs – poems to bring awareness about homelessness, mental illness, self-esteem and the injustices many face.
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Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders
Categories: Writing Tips