should poetry be set to music

#62 - For anonymous

Filling the prompt “Can you do one where you and Van are close friends and you always hang out after school and cuddle and stuff and he admits his feelings for you?? thank you!”


You hadn’t really been friends with Van when he was still in school. You were in the same year level, but you never noticed him except for the moments where he’d be off task in class and a teacher would ask him if there was something more important than his education. There always was. There was always something he cared more about. A new song. A show on the weekend. Finding a drummer for his band. His new puppy. You’d always chuckle under your breath at the chaos he caused.

You became friends on the day that would be the catalyst for him dropping out. It was a Friday, and you had English after lunch. Honestly, you were surprised he was even in class; he would frequently skip. The teacher was having everyone analyse poetry. You loved English, and you loved poetry. You started to flick through your own copy of Howl and Other Poems. You made eye contact with Van briefly as he was searching through his bag for something. He gave you a smile, and you smiled back and quickly looked away. He pulled out headphones and started to listen to something, tapping the beat out on his desk with pencils. The teacher was on him instantly, ripping the headphones off his head.

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You ask if I would ever
make you bury your music,
like peony seeds set to
death beneath fresh concrete.
You are asking if my hands 
would ever pour that paste. 
I tell you I love you.

I hope you know how
deeply that means ‘no.' 

A love should never take
from you what makes 
that love more palpable

in the hearts of they
who give name to it. 

It is not the right love
if you must first
suffocate the bloom
of some piece of you
to feel it.
—  “Flower Beds, A Promise” By Emma Bleker

If people could set aside the fact they’re a black metal band, Cradle of Filth should be appreciated on their advanced literary genius alone. In that if you take away the music, the lyrics could still stand alone as poetry. 

You see this?

And this?

THAT’S FUCKING POETRY!!! There’s even scholarly articles written and devoted to critically examining their complex, historical, mythology-laced, poetry and gothic literature-inspired lyrics. What other band can say that!?

A Note on Personal Style in Writing

No matter what you write, there will always be someone telling you how to write it. From poetry to novels, fanfic to music journalism - there will always be someone trying to instruct you on just how to turn a phrase to make it shine.

These people can be mentors, and they can be brilliant and useful, and we can learn a lot from them. There’s a point, though, when you should stop listening to them. When someone else’s voice is so loud and so insistent that it’s drowning out your own .

No one would ask Van Gogh to paint like Vermeer, but we can all agree that both are skilled painters. Their style is what sets them apart, what makes them so unique. Writers are the same. Zora Neale Hurston’s blossoming, lush prose is nothing like the vast starkness of Steinbeck’s, but both craft immanently moving, deep, tuning-fork words that ring out inside you.

Someone else’s mistake - wording choice, reference, an abundance of comparative language, a short, choppy sentence, or a sentence that meandesr like a wandering river - is not your mistake.

In writing, we create our own worlds. Who’s to say the colours you paint with? Who’s to say how you populate it, how you buttress plot with metaphor? This is your playground, so play! Play with words, play with style, play with metaphor and poetics, play with character, play with well-known no-no’s. Take that unwanted, unloved convention or stylistic choice out from behind the swing-set and introduce it to the rest of the kids - you never know, it might be the one thing that defines your writing. It might be what makes your writing yours.

You’ve got to trust your own voice to find itself, but you have to help it along by exploring, by trying new things, and by seeing what works. Don’t get frightened away - be bold! Listen to those you trust, ask for critiques on new styles and new attempts, but listen to that still, small voice inside the most. It won’t steer you wrong. I promise.

TL:DR
Don’t let the haters get you down.

I’m sick of imagery instead of artistry.
I’m sick of apathy instead of harmony.
I’m sick of poets working part-time jobs
while pissy people pick and choose the stars.
I know that I should be the last one to speak about this,
but even sellouts have their dreams…
.
Set the music free.
—  Sellout, Nevershoutnever! [Harmony-2010]