Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Open to Interpretation

Photo by takomabebelot / CC BY

As a songwriter, I strive to make my writing relatable within my personal narratives. An emotion, a circumstance, a memory, all specific to my own experience, and if I'm successful, those things can be interpreted in various ways to the listener.

That's how I feel about so many of my favorite songs, and the same goes for poetry. After all, song lyrics are poetic prose set to music. Whether they rhyme or not is irrelevant. Sometimes the simplest ideas put forth in everyday language can be the most powerful and meaningful to an audience. Less can certainly be more.

A number of years back I wrote a song about a family member's struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Without coming out and stating anything about his condition, I let the narrative weave around the emotions and imagery without being literal. That song is probably the one that most people have remarked to me later was of personal significance to them in a number of ways. For some it conjured thoughts of love relationships, for others it spoke to their own struggles.

When you're writing poetry, it's an excellent opportunity to play around with meaning and experiment with the different ways in which you can convey an idea or emotion that can be taken further in the reader's mind. And it doesn't have to be complicated. Readers are always looking for that "Me too" moment. In poetry, although abstract thought is so alluring, an underlying current of understanding and solidarity is at its core.

So Tip #2 of #OctPoWriMo15 is: Keep it open to interpretation.  No matter how "out there" you want to be with your poetry, (and I love to be in outer space) it's great to leave some room for readers to nod their heads and say "Yes! I get it! That's me."


Linda Roy is a writer, singer/songwriter/musician whose humor blog elleroy was here mixes funny with a soundtrack. She is the founder and lead singer of the Indie/Americana band Jehova Waitresses and her writing has been featured at The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop, Humor Outcasts and In the Powder Room, among others. She is a 2014 BlogHer Voice of the Year recipient and has contributed to several anthologies, including the third book of the New York Times best selling "Pee Alone" series, I Still Just Want To Pee Alone. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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