(On Poetry Writing as Both an Art and a Skill)
Some say that anyone who has a pen and paper and has something to say can write poetry. Yes, true, but only if the poetic form being referred to is free verse—a form of poetry that refrains from consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other pattern. However, a true master of poetry will disagree with that—s/he will insist that true poems follow strict structures and patterns, making poetry writing—like any other art—more of a skill than a hobby that which involves interest, willingness to learn its various forms and styles and the rudiments in writing poems properly, regular practice, and consistent engagement.
I think so too—writing poetry is not just a whim or a simple hobby; it’s a discipline that needs skills. Having said that, I write also in free verse but I prefer writing poems that follow structures and patterns—because this way, I can really apply my skills as a poet.
I was in fourth-year high school, in 1988, when I started writing poems, as inspired by an English professor of mine. Naturally, I began with free verse; but being really serious about it, I honed my skills in writing poems in certain forms by reading a lot of poetry and by studying the subject itself.
Among the various forms of poetry, the sonnet and the haiku remains my favorite.
Written in April 1989, the following is the first sonnet that I wrote:
I know just when you are far away;
That is, when you are too near for me to be enthralled.
I do nothing but close my eyes
Whenever I wish to see you.
I shut my mouth when I wish to converse
For you speak with your eyes with sublime sincerity.
A multitude of lovers had met their fall;
Our love will catch our fall.
Open your heart and I will enclose it with mine;
Talk in rhyme and in one breath I’ll sing it with mine.
Sad songs will cease on the day you are mine.
Behold! That day springs a new bliss of art.
Entrust your life if you dread for death, for
Death will die to countenance a life that immortality bestowed!
On the other hand, here is a set of four haiku I entitled “Haiku by a Floraphile,” which I wrote in February 2005:
Haikus by a Floraphile
Hymnal as haiku—
Tiny trees on pygmy pots
—Li’l leafs, my pet plants.
Prick me not, I said,
You always fascinate me.
“Touch me not, therefore!”
How tall and proud yet
Humble, for you bend and bow—
Beautiful than rose—
That is how you are to me;
Every time you’re pink.
The Last Leaf
In its simplest description, a sonnet is a form of poetry that consists of 14 lines; haiku, on the other hand, is a short poem comprised by 17 syllables. The sonnet I wrote, “Dreamwalking,” consists of seven pairs of antithetical lines, while each of the four haiku follows the traditional structure of three phrases of 5, 7, and 5. Notice too that, to further express the formality in my treatment of the poems I wrote, I observed also proper punctuation—a feature many poets are either taking for granted or intentionally ignoring because of the difficulty in using correct punctuation.