The Micro-Poetry Experiment
For the past few months I have been experimenting with miniature poems. Usually only three or four lines long, these short pieces are to poetry what micro-flash is to fiction. I find them to be a unique way to share a mood or emotion, whilst also being an exercise in minimalism, and the process of concentrating my words has improved both my poetry and prose.
Micro-poetry is not a new concept, however the medium has been popularised recently through social media, particularly on Instagram. Many poets now write these tiny verses and share them online as an image, and the form is gaining recognition.
The element I most enjoy is condensing what I want to share into the smallest amount of words whilst maintaining clarity and an emotional impact. This leads to interesting choices of phrasing and poetic elements. Some rhyme, others don’t; a few become part of larger pieces later whilst many are stand-alone. The potential to deliver is limited only by the choice of words, not the length of the piece.
The benefits of micro-poetry to your craft are obvious: all clichés must be removed as there is no space to include them and no need for padding; and the few words you do use are considerably more valuable than the many you do not, yet what you don’t say is equally if not more important than what you do. Substance and style must be in equal balance to ensure your verse is neither vapid nor too abrupt, and the opportunity for subtext and thematic exploration is waiting to be filled in both the lines and the spaces between them.
The other factor for consideration is the method by which your poem is shared. Some simply write their words in a note-taking app on their phones, then upload a screenshot (often passing it through a filter or three) as a simple means of delivery. Others, including my contemporary here Luke Edley, prefer to use a graphics programme like Photoshop to create their images. The third option is to create the poem physically instead of digitally and then photograph it. Personally, I write mine using my typewriter and take a photo of the result, but I have also seen handwritten poetry, cut-up found poems, snaps of computer screens, chalkboards and whiteboards, and even paint on canvas. However a poet decides to share their words is all part of the creative process, and an interesting angle or take will definitely stand out.
Micro-poetry is, to me at least, a brilliant way of capturing an emotional moment much like a photograph catches a visual one. It is a snapshot inside someone else’s worldview; a way for writers to deliver their opinions or feelings using their medium of choice: words. As an experiment, this is something I would definitely recommend.
© 2016 Seb Reilly
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Seb Reilly is a writer, fiction author and occasional musician. He lives by the sea in Thanet, Kent, with his family and two cats.