Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Universal

Rena's Universe 
Photo by Rena J. Traxel
U is for universal.  I love how poetry, and I have mentioned this before, "has the power to cut through all the crap we accumulate in our lives and touch us to the quick, to make us not only recall our childhood, but also re-experience the less complicated joys and sensations of that not always guileless time" (Gary Geddes).

How does poetry have this power over us? One of the reasons is the use of universal or common experiences such as birth/death, love/friendship, pain/loss, war/justice etc.Take a look around us. The books we read, the movies we watch all tap into universal or common experiences. Why? Because it draws us in and helps us to relate to, or understand the story therefore enjoy it. 

Why is this important? First off, I think it’s important to write what you want to write. But a savvy artist pays attention to what is happening around him/her. Using the market to his/her advantage. For example, during the Romantic period (late 1800th century) many poems depicted nature, loss of innocents, and the industrial revolution.  Today, the arts are littered with references to technology. Since poetry helps us to understand the world around us, it makes sense to write about common experiences.

What if you write poems for children or silly poems? The same rule can be applied.  All you have to do is think about that child’s universe.  You can still write about friendship, or love or loss etc., but the approach to these poems will be different. The language used will be different. The metaphors and similes must be drawn from the child’s universe. 

--When you write your poem today think about your audience.  You can use today’s word “universal” as prompt for your poem.  And/or
--Write a poem that depicts your universe that you think others could relate to (Are you retired? Do you have kids? Are you student? Etc.).  I did this when I wrote my sonnet about being a writer.  

--To see a list of universal themes click here.

If you liked this post please let others know with a click of button below. Tomorrow, children's poet and writer Renee LaTulippe from No Water River will be joining us. I hope you come back for that. 

Remember you can always connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, or Pin me in Pinterest, link up on LinkedIn, and add me to your Google Circle.

Do you want to catch up or re-visit earlier poetry posts? Here are the most recent poetry posts:
  • T is for Twitter: All about Twitter poetry. 
  • S is for Sonnet: How to write a sonnet. Plus interview with writer and poet Linda J. Pedley. 
  • R is for Rhyme: Tips on Writing Stories in Rhyme (tips provided by author Kari-Lynn Winters). 
1. Gary Geddes: 20th-Century Poetry & Poetics (5th ed). Preface.


  1. Ooh interesting! I think I'll have to right about being home with the kids then, it's all around me after all and pretty universal. Thanks Rena!

  2. Thanks for another interesting poetry lesson Rena!

    Here is mine:

    My Universe

    My Bud is not a flower
    He is a bouncing busy boy.
    My Pumpkin is not a veggie
    She is a blonde and bubbly joy.
    My Princess is not a ruler
    She is a brave and playful doe
    My universe is not the cosmos
    It is where my children grow.

    1. Well this made me smile! I love the lead in with "My bud is not a flower" because I want to know who or what you are talking about. The use of triple b's in the second line and double b's in the fourth line and again in the sixth line adds to the flow of your poem.

    2. Not only is that adorable, Jennifer...it rolls right off the tongue...great job!

    3. Jennifer...this is beautiful! What a treasure for your kids when they are older.

      :-) Irene

  3. I have to say that today my poem is so weird that I'm weirded out myself when I read it. But...in a weird way, I liked it enough to post it!

  4. I'm glad you posted this. Was it intended for me in my efforts to write children' poetry? I needed to purposefully re-examine my efforts on seeing things from children's perspective. This post was an excellent reminder. So glad I stopped by today!!!

    I work with children. I have for over 20 years. Every odd part of my body has been discussed by these...sweet, dear creatures. I mean, they're JUST...So...CUTE, huh?

    Truth Tellers__the little darlings

    Ms. Pam, why is your stomach so big?
    What's in there? Did you swallow a pig?
    "Aren't you SWEET," I replied
    "Nope, don't know why he cried"
    How that kid can get under my wig!!!

    1. Haha. I'm not laughing at you but at the things kids say. Once upon a time I cut my hair short and a girl asked me if I was a boy.

    2. Kids do say the darndest things :-) Cute poem!

  5. Still thinking on this one--Sometimes the more open-ended the prompt is, the more difficult it is for me to get started. Is anyone else like this?

    1. Natalie, I over think things, and it overwhelms me. Then I read what you, Jennifer, Penny, Catherine, and Rena, Lori and the rest have in store for us to read and I get a chuckle and am inspired (not always enough to show what I wrote) to put something down on paper. Although, I understand what you're saying. Boy, does it take a while for me to just dive in.

    2. I always need time to think a topic over and as long as I don't panic then the words usually come. Sometimes deadlines make me panic and my mind goes blank. A trick that works for me is I come up with a title first then write. The title helps me focus on what I want to write about especially when dealing with a open ended prompt.

  6. I think it's so apropos that I'm just finishing and posting this poem at 10:50 pm :-) Another great prompt - thanks, Rena!


    1. Thanks Lori. I'm a night writer so surprisingly I finished my poem early today.


Thanks for your comments. Remember to keep them kid friendly.