'poems and songs reach us easily nowadays...'
American pianist and singer-songwriter, Tori Amos found,
‘I needed to explore in poetry feelings I had that were not being met' and ‘I needed to see how other poets talked about their pain before I did it’.
She describes the process of poetry as ‘The ripping off of the skin so you get to the feelings underneath, muscle and bone’.
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine highlighted the exploratory nature of both reading poetry and writing songs. How, often, an individual is trying to understand a larger experience:
‘Poets don’t write about what they know, they write about what they don’t know... they're trying to understand something’.
Also emphasizing the intuitive aspect of writing ‘That boundary between awake and sleep. That’s where songs come from’
Rhyme and Reason has reminded me of the inter-relationship, yet also the difference, between poetry and lyricism. In my own experience of both listening too and writing songs and poetry, the creative process is linked yet diverse.
A song often has definite structure with verses and a chorus that is usually repeated. Also sentences and words can be seemly disjointed, even though hinged around a theme. This also occurs in poetry, but because of a song needing to work together strongly with the melody and rhythm the nature of songwriting can be individual. That said poems with a strong rhythmic base can often morph easily in to a song! Snatches of lines from poems can work equally as well in songwriting.
We have also begun to include lyrics at Incandescent meetings held at Cardiff Central Library. Incandescent is a space where people are able to share published poetry and lyrics. At our last meeting an extract of John Keats 'Eve of St Agnes' followed by lyricist Richard Ashcroft’s 'Check The Meaning'. As Michael MacKian, a participant, said “It would be interesting to hear Keats take on those lyrics, as they are really out there on the edge’
A powerful reminder that great wordsmiths are always looking to understand life experience and reach out to their listeners / readers / audience with an expression of the ‘Human Condition’. Whether you are a listener, a fellow writer or just enjoy the spoken word as stimulus for discussion we would love to see you at one of our meetings!
'As the former poet laureate Ted Hughes once wrote to his daughter, Frieda (also a fine poet), that the only way for anyone to improve their own poetry was to read the works of others aloud.'
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Article written for The Sprout