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What Is Life Poetry?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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Life poetry is a type of writing in which the poet focuses on a range of topics that mostly encompass day-to-day triumphs, disappointments, challenges, decisions, and outcomes. These types of poems attempt to capture common life experiences that many people encounter at some points in their lives; the associated feelings, thoughts, and reactions are often quite similar despite diverse backgrounds and circumstances. The structure of life poetry usually makes it quite different from prose, which would usually describe the same experiences in journal entries or essays. When it is well written, this kind of verse usually gives powerful mental snapshots that can sometimes stem from only one or two carefully chosen words.

The language choices used for life poetry are generally flexible, with few hard-and-fast rules. One life poem can follow a traditional rhyme and meter structure while another can be written in nonrhyming free verse with varied beats and rhythms. A common goal of writing life poetry is to express emotions in a style that is more lyrical than other types of poetry. Many life poems have minimal narrative descriptions or peripheral details of the subject at hand; the poet tries to show the experience rather than tell about it in too many words.

Some of the popular topics in this area of literature often include love, mortality, and what may possibly happen after death; these subjects can also be among the most challenging as dedicated poets strive to write verses about them that are unique and memorable. Other life poetry writers may focus on themes of hope, faith and perseverance in the face of tragedies or setbacks that can happen on a personal level or as part of larger-scale social injustices. Ideas for life poems can come from a wide range of possible starting points such as mentally processing difficult times or from simply describing characteristics of mundane, everyday objects.

An effective life poem is generally able to elicit readers' empathy as it relates to the emotions the poet wants to convey through his or her written words. These feelings can be upbeat and hopeful as often as they can be somber; the point of each poem is generally to bring about a lasting impression. Close readings of life poetry can sometimes leave readers with altered ideas about themselves as well as how they should best approach and react to different life experiences.

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