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Sue Hess

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It is a Thing Called Poetic License
by Sue Hess   

Last edited: Friday, December 22, 2006
Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002

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This thing we call poetry is not a literal art; it is not prose, it is not fact in the sense that one often views fact. It is a creation to express and inspire a certain emotion from the readers. We call on our experiences, of course, and those of others, but a poem is not meant to be a literal description of one's life and situation at the given time, necessarily. We draw on what we have and borrow what we don't, we create, we fabricate, but in all cases, we express a feeling or a situation in hopes that someone else will share it....

Okay, let’s go over it again. This is a poetry site. It is real, the people are real, the emotions are real, and the words are certainly real.

We are people, poets, writers, readers, whatever, but we are real, we laugh, we love, we eat and breathe. But the things we write about, however true or insightful or emotional, they are not always reality for the person writing the words in that particular moment. Its called poetic license and it gives us the right to change reality to fit our words and our words to fit reality. It allows us to exaggerate, to stretch the truth, hell, it gives us the opportunity to downright fabricate a truth in the name of our art. We are writing to inspire emotion, a feeling of some sort, to express a feeling or an emotion, to vent a feeling or emotion. That does not mean that the words have to be descriptive of our life or situation at that moment, only of the feeling we are trying to express.

When I write of sitting and watching a thunderstorm, it does not mean that I am at that moment sitting and watching a thunderstorm, only that I am feeling the awe or fear or whatever emotion thunderstorms might inspire in me and I want to share that emotion with others. Or maybe I am only imagining that feeling. Maybe I am only describing a thought someone else expressed to me and I put it into my own words.

We are people who turn life, feeling and emotions into words and put them down so that someone else might share that feeling or emotion. Much as songwriters and musicians do with their music, we create a mood. It may not be the mood of the moment, but it is a mood we understand, if we are to express it successfully. In that sense the words are true and the feelings ours.

When I write of loneliness and unrequited love, when in reality I am in a happy and comfortable relationship, I am not lying, I am only remembering those emotions and in doing so, feeling them again. Sharing them with you. If I write in anger of an unfair love, it is certainly emotion I am familiar with, though maybe not at the moment. This is not a literal art that we practice and to try and make it one would limit us severely.

So don’t use the word lie to me in relation to my poetry and the impressions it might create. If I were to literally live every poem I write, I would be even crazier than I already admit to. This is an art form, a creative process and I use this process to the extent of my ability with no apologies to anyone. As I’m sure we all do.

I am the person you see here….every one of them in one way or another. I am the erotic lover, the angry spouse, the romantic dreamer and the cynical realist. In that sense I guess I do live every poem I write, as I hope others will live them with me. But don’t base your hopes or plans, your life or your heart on what anyone says on this site, because, in most cases, it is written to everyone, not to a single person. It is written with love, with anger, with passion, with angst; it is for you…for every one of you who reads it.

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Reviewed by Emile Tubiana
Thank you for sharing with us you view about poetry. Certainly you will agree with me too, that everyone has different views on poetry.

I appreciate your openness. For me poetry gives us the tool to express our deepest feelings with the hope that someone else will be on the same wave length and able to extract what's relevant for him or her. For sure, not everyone is on the same level or in the same sphere at all times. When I refer to "path" I don't mean a road on which we step, but rather a source that may open our hearts to love, kindness, happiness and strength.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Li Smith
Hi Sue,

The poetic sentiments you express are sooo true!

Love, Li

Reviewed by Debra Conklin
Many times I have written about past emotions that have nothing to do with my present happiness, but am able to write more vividly about them b/c they are seen in perspective. Many people relate simply b/c what I write, has likely happened to them or someone they know at some point, but many times, the poems or articles are not even about me. They are events that happened to someone I know or I have expanded on a situation of my own to bring it to life. But, it is all the same, making a character or feeling come to life by injecting our own imagination to it (or poetic license).

Wonderful article, Sue.
Reviewed by fare good (Reader)
I really like this I could not have said it better my self. In fact I really like your den. I have viewed it. And it is excellent continue to write. I find it quit interesting. Its never good to judge the book by its cover. But the contents in which its displayed. Sue I really love your site.
Reviewed by Matthew Wright
Eloquently said.
Reviewed by chander keswani (Reader)
I endorse your views.Again a good stuff....
chander keswani
Reviewed by Janet Caldwell
Right on Sue. There's so much to us, all of us.

Love, Janet xoxoxo
Reviewed by anne cunningham
well said ... there are times when you post on line and if you sound the least bit unstable you expect that a friendly reader is going to dispatch the authorities to your house ... and oft times, something remarkable and honest is written, truth from the heart, and rather than creative comment, someone says, "things will get better!" this was very well written, liked the part about thunderstorms and how just because you wrote of such doesn't mean you are in the midst of same. :)
Reviewed by Tiana
Excellent write!!! You said it all!
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