Workshop: Poetry without rhyme or reason

The sound of busy bees buzzed all day long as pens scratched on paper as 98 mentees and 64 mentors bonded over poetry at HNYPT in downtown LA.

“Poetry happens when emotions need to be put on the page,” WriteGirl Exec. Dir. Keren Taylor told the women and girls. Poetry is about feelings, which aren’t always logical, and which we don’t always understand. It doesn’t always have to make sense. And she gave us a mandate: “There will be no rhyming today.”

After mentee and 2014 Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman stopped by with some sage advice, we analyzed poems such as “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles” by Sally Wen Mao, asking, “What do you like?” “What is specific in the writing?” and “What makes it a poem?” We learned about the building blocks of poetry, including concrete details that speak to our five senses and metaphors. We explored wheels of emotion to get specific about our feelings, translating “joyful,” for example, to “daring” and “mad” to “jealous.” And we learned some of the don’ts of poetry, especially clichés (although they can be fun to toy around with).