Flashbulb Poetry - How To Write

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       There are a lot of different types of poetry out there like the villanelle, free verse, blank verse, haiku, and many more, but in my opinion I see none that focus on imagery alone. Sometimes imagery is detail. Imagery can represent a plethora of words, and that imagery also represents an abundance of emotions. In prose, it takes quite a long time to write down the actions of an individual and include what they think, how they feel, the surrounding environment, and more. The strength of the writer of prose is determined by how well the writer defines the experience of the reader through the methods used by the writer. In poetry, I would like to think that the strength of the writer is determined by how well the poet is able to combine both set and qualitative type - terms that will be discussed further in this article that help to explain Flashbulb Poetry.

       Recently, I came up with an exciting type of poetry that idolizes the connotative concept of a single word: Flashbulb Poetry.  In psychology, flashbulb memory is known as a type of memory that incorporates vivid detail of a specific moment in time. Comparatively, every single word has at least one piece of imagery imbued in its concept regardless of the denotative meaning of the word. For example, let's bring up the word "ignorance." If I had a dime for every time someone used ignorance to indicate rudeness and then proceed to tell me that ignorance does not mean “a lack of knowledge of something,” I would probably be writing this article somewhere else in the world. Perhaps Hawaii or maybe Italy. But let's not get my fantasy flying away here; instead, let's continue to focus on "ignorance." As stated before, there now seems to be two separate denotative meanings for this one word, but it is more important to realize that some individuals believe that there is only one – incorrect – denotative meaning for that word which is roughly: rudeness.

       Clearly, the denotative diversity of the word also indicates that there are at least two connotative images associated with each separate meaning. What image comes to mind when you think of rudeness? What image or images come to mind when you think of a lack of knowledge? Pertaining to the former, I think of an individual making a sneering face with a personal sense of associated emotions like: annoyance, anger, and embarrassment. The latter often brings up an individual with a clueless expression with a personal sense of associated emotions like: mild surprise and even amusement. However, if an individual, like many I have met, takes their denotative meaning of ignorance – rudeness – into an embodiment of their faith, my personal sense of associated emotions with that particular denotation is heightened and will likely include annoyance since I've had to listen to the same many times in the past.

       I bring up the predicament of the word to illustrate the complexity of this type of poetry. Once the writer, who uses his/her own connotative associations of the word to illustrate a poem, has created a poem, the piece is at the mercy of the reader’s mind where connotative associations of a particular denotation, within context of course, may be different from the writer’s connotative associations. But this doesn’t mean that the writer has to worry about faux denotations and connotations. Thankfully, it is up to the readers to research the meanings of words if unfamiliarity plays a part in their understanding. Let me speak to you directly, though. It's quite easy to write any old word and believe that its importance to you is what makes the piece art. In a sense, you are correct in your assumption. However, most individuals - most artists - aspire to impact others with their work. You cannot do this if you place importance on yourself; you must realize that your art must influence and shape the minds of its viewers. Otherwise, ignorance will continue to become art itself since it is difficult to read another's mind no matter how many clues are available.

Let's take a look at a piece I created and try to pick it apart.

Ars Poetica in a Flashbulb

Word. Single.
Connotative snapshots.
Abstract. Pictures.
1000 words per abstract.
Tears. Wife. Husband. Room. Mistress.
Screams. Betrayed. Pleading. Dark. Equal.
Calm. Calm. Frantic. Red. Pain.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Silence. Dead.
One. Single. Word.  Dead.

       As you can see, the first four lines are purely indicative of set - instructional technique of the piece - and qualitative type - execution, reasoning, and quality of the piece.  Set  - focuses purely upon the method of creation. In this particular type of poem, it is the use of a single word to create meaning whether it is connotative or denotative. Qualitative type - execution imbues the choice of the word; reasoning is rather self-explanatory but represents the critical thinking behind anything that is visually stimulating in a poem: senses, comparisons, symbolism, etc. (reasoning is used for execution); quality represents the correlation between the words used; i.e. it focuses on the complexity and relationships of the connotative meanings between the words and their critical placement.

       The last five lines are an example of the type poetry itself.  The first line comprises nouns which help separate each word into corresponding categories to further the correlation between the other words that follows each category. The second and third lines comprise actions and feelings while the third of fourth lines focus on the connotative concept of death and its repetition.
Tears    Wife                Husband         Room       Mistress
Screams  Betrayed         Pleading           Dark       Equal
Calm     Calm             Frantic              Red          Pain
Dead     Dead             Dead               Silence       Dead
One     Single           Word               Dead                              

       Each word has a connotative meaning for the reader, but, as is evident, the sex and qualitative type, especially the quality, help to categorize the connotative meanings of each word (or lack thereof); thus, the connotations themselves help to clarify the reasoning of the piece which ultimately allows the reader a guided view toward a plausible theme, overall meaning, and personal understanding of the poem.

       Let's take another look at another poem I've created within the same type. You will see the same set and qualitative type that are used to create this particular type of poem. Indeed, come to think of it, I submit the possibility that the set and qualitative type represent the two golden rules of poetry - not exclusive to single type.



       As you can see, the poem is more abstract and largely depends upon the connotations of each word. The piece also represents the validity of the variable nature of connotations for a single word. If the writer is able to use categories yet again to help point out the fact that a particular word is being used for different purposes, then it is certainly possible for the reader to understand the same. While the term "vanilla" is interchangeable within the piece, the following words in each line indicate a particular type of imagery that is routinely associated with each line:

Vision Vanilla  Blonde               Blue                  Pearl
Taste Vanilla  Sweet                    Mint                 Milk
Smell Vanilla  Strawberries      Wildflowers           Lemons
Sound Vanilla  Mew                    Sigh                  Moan
Touch Vanilla  Pressure            Grip                Coupled

       Generally, vanilla is not used for sound and touch, but of course other words will help to create a new connotative meaning for the reader, thus showing that words are quite flexible, complex, and possibly difficult work with. Other words may also be used in other categories, but the placement is definitive because of their associated purpose with the other words in their category. As I said recently, there are new connotative meanings demonstrated by the associated words, but their inclusion represents an exclusion of bias toward the experimentation of words through reasoning itself rather than the display of self-art I've seen where individuals take a word, thrust it into a sentence or line, and expect the reader to understand the connotative meaning without context.

       "Ars Poetica in A Flashbulb” and “Vanilla” represent a new type of poetry called Flashbulb Poetry which incorporates two basic rules: set - instructional technique of the piece - and qualitative type - execution, reasoning, and quality of the piece.  Feel free to review the detailed explanation of each rule found earlier in this article. This type of poetry focuses on the connotative aspects of a single word. After all, since pictures are worth a thousand words, an image in one's mind must also represent a thousand words. It is the writer's goal, then, to create a series of specific images to relate a purposeful overall meaning. This further removes unnecessary verbiage often found in many types of poetry today, especially free verse. While there is nothing inherently wrong with free verse poetry, flashbulb poetry will be able to better prepare the writer imagistic-specificity and the importance of a single word itself.
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