“Some Thoughts on the Integrity of the Single Line in Poetry” by Alberto Rios

“Dear poets,” Lytton began his email to the class. “Poets.”  

While I admit that I do dabble in poetry, I would be the last to call myself a “poet.”

This title is both daunting and an honor. Personally, I still feel naive when it comes to writing and reading poetry; I have yet to learn the ins-and-outs of the trade. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my creative writing classes is to “show, don’t tell.” As I contemplate the work of many poets, I drool over there well-crafted abstractions and the depth they oh-so-carefully weave into their writing. The lines composing their poems require multiple readings, as well as time spent pondering them. I feel as if my poems lack this; however, after reading A Broken Thing, I have a new perspective on poetry. Alberto Rios claims that “If you have to tell your reader, just keep reading, it’ll all get clear in a moment, then you are writing prose.” He also believes that you should not play “tricks” on the reader. I, humbled upon reading this, realized that perhaps my idea of a commendable poem, is slightly askew. I always believed that poetry was a process in which the poet took an idea, then added enough frill to make its message barely recognizable. I now believe that this is not the case, instead, every line should be able to contribute concise meaning to the poem, instead of acting as unnecessary furnishings. Now, instead of trying to make my poems aloof and convoluted, I will make it a habit to keep each line straightforward. Perhaps, after adding clarity to my poems, I may accept the title, “poet.”

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