There are several attributes that a poem must contain, but for the sake of this brief class, we’ll be focusing on Fluidity/Fluidness. Like it is called, it literally means ‘to flow’. So, how a poem flows is termed ‘fluidity’.
Fluidity in poetry is the systematic precision with which words, phrases, clauses, symbols, and ideas are presented. It is how these listed elements flow into each other. Fluidity is characterized particularly by words ideas and symbols. It is a simple creativity that many overlook and violate, probably because it is not a stated rule. However, seasoned senses will know.
A fluid poem is one that can be termed “not forced”. One can literally feel the words, and lines effortlessly coming through from the writer, like dice rolling out of a cup. Don’t be too eager to say, yes poetry should be step by step and line by line of course, give diligence to patience.
A simple way to understand this analogy: writing about the day, instead of the logical morning, noon and night, a person writes morning, night and noon.
Words – you remember ‘register’ in the secondary school English? Yes. You need to be familiar with words that correlate what you are writing about and the imagery you are portraying.
Her mind taxied through memory lane,
And her joy climbed, scaling the cloud in high height.
I used the activity of aircraft dynamics. It will be fluidly wrong for me to use ‘scaling height’ before ‘taxi’ when I’m explaining a situation that heightens. I mean, from past (memory lane) to the present.
Your love oozes out to me
Like a river flowing through valleys
And running into the heights of mountains
Water/river does not flow from valleys into the mountains. Logically, it should be the other way round. It is not only impossible, it perturbs imagination, and it is not a fluid way of explaining imageries.
Fluidity might be crafty sometimes, I mean, it can come naturally as you write, needing no rearrangement of words. And sometimes, the muse comes raw but it needs refining. One needs discernment to know, I mean you patiently read through and see how it connects.
Every line must connect to the next and the previous. Every stanza must never be distant with the previous. Sometimes we write and we forget to be mindful of this simple fact. Every poem is a whole and each stanza within it must connect. I’ve read several poets cross this line unlawfully.
However, no matter how your sweet/swift your muse comes, technically, your “afternoon” must never come before “night”, neither must water flow from your “valley” to the “mountain”.
This means you will patiently read through your work, over and over and over again. Don’t be too lazy to read your work for twenty times or more than. It is YOUR work. I mean, you know the type of work that people get pleased to read again without minding the length. Don’t ever try to be too deep and misplace your symbolism(s).
We need to be careful of our representations. A symbol should be carefully picked, especially within a stanza, such that it is not used to depict different things. There are several hundreds of words that can be used to depict something different things.
I am the peace of a flowing river
Seeking thirst to quench
Yet, my anger is as of roaring water in a season of plenteous rain.
That is not too good.
But, it is more confusing for those who use direct metaphors such as
my lover’s body is a hearth of fire,
she is the tower i warm my feet at.
on days when her mood swings,
she becomes a tower and fire of many things called horror.
Though there seem to be nothing wrong with the lines, the repeated use of tower is unnecessary. There are many objects with which we can send different messages home.”Fire” and “tower” were used to depict two things -comfort and anger. It was being excessive; it should not be caught in the hand of a master poet. So, one with a critical mind is forced to think, to see if there are no other means by which the other dimension can be shown rather than use the same symbols.
So, on this note, I advise that a poet must desist from every form of 3 minutes poetry, 2minutes poetry. No man is ever awarded/rewarded for writing within a short time. People are awarded for the brilliance of their art. You aren’t competing with anyone, but you must always read your work before posting or publishing and feel SATISFIED, even with the fluency of your art.
So, here is an exercise, try and think out how it ought to be appropriately lined.
Singing blues of a lover’s heart 1
your voice is a melody 2
Calling me into a peaceful night 3
- Line 4, the subject.
- 2 describes the attribute -voice
- 1 explains further the attribute of voice -blues
- 3 -effect. The effect of the voice, of the song. And generally, ‘blues’ depicts calmness, for a waking day or sleeping day (night)
The answer therefore is; 4, 2, 1, 3
Fluidity of Words:
The arrangement of words in simple/similar manner is what is called “diction” in poetry. This is the most focused on by many, to term a work as fluid.
You must be careful of how you place your words. Don’t switch patterns within a work. Be consistent with a style and don’t murder syntax. E.g
From thy blossom are issues of life
Thou art the master with potent power
Thine arms covereth the length of the earth
Breathe on me, thou breath of God.
The use of “thine” “thou” “thee” and all those KJV/Shakespearean English must be consistent. Don’t put a “you” “your” etc in works bearing them.
The choice of style syntactically must also be persistent throughout a work.
where you are, I want to be;
a foun’t where knowledge springs,
valleys of men I would my flood to sweep.
That is a poem written with ancient English laced with inversion.
The conventional English would be,
i want to be where you are;
a fountain where knowledge springs,
i wish that my flood sweeps through the valleys of men.
So, please, carefully go through your works. Editing a poem is more difficult than writing. Therefore, if you are not familiar with a pattern of English, don’t use it.
Fluidness, as would appear to a reader, is how smooth a work is perceived or read on the mind. (This does not mean the poem shouldn’t be thought-provoking, rather, swift and appealing to the mind and imagination). This aspect of poetry is not what is commonly learned, but it is easily noticed. So, one should carefully pick on his words.
And I need to say, poetry is not prose. Write your work with the smallest word count that you can. You owe no one explanation. Your readers are to ‘come up’ to the reasoning of your work; I don’t mean to write something incoherent and confusing. Fluidness is not complication. So, don’t seek to break your poem into pieces with careless and extravagant words. Do it simply, with limited words.
Written by Mosobalaje M. Abimbola.
All examples used in this material are exclusively the copyright of the author.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.