It isn’t easy to be a plain-talk poet. There is an art to reducing the poetic form to everyday language and still capturing universal truths. I discovered this poetic form while reading Billy Collins’ Poetry 180. It fascinates me because the topics were everyday moments which I could identify with, yet I was not the one experiencing them first-hand. I realized that this former Poet Laureate had created an anthology of plain-talk poetry by a number of people who had found this new method of expression. Rather than focusing on verbal gymnastics, the message of each poem was simply phrased, yet reached my heart.
As I examined the art form of plain-talk poetry (my own term for it), I found that there are certain common characteristics:
- Focus on small moments
- Find the universal experience or emotion
- Paint a picture with words
- Tell a condensed story
- Don’t be afraid to be absurd
- Find the musicality of your words
Rhyming is not a factor in plain-talk poetry. We don’t speak in rhyme, we converse. Plain talk poetry is a conversation between the writer and the reader as if we were sitting together having a cup of coffee.
If you have never tried plain-talk poetry, I encourage you to experiment with it. It’s harder than it looks, but rewarding. Capturing the moments of life and telling their story with meaning brings it to life for yourself and for others. Plus, it’s fun!