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  • Kourtni Tucker

Positivity in Poetry

In my time meeting all of you lovely poets at our events, I’ve heard many say they struggle with writing about more “positive” emotions. In the spirit of the joy, gratitude, and generosity of this season, here are some tips and tricks I’ve developed over the years! Naturally, these may or may not work for everybody and will look different for every writer.


  1. Start off neutrally


As counterintuitive as that may sound, sometimes the first step out of a slump is to just…do the darn thing. If you first practice writing about experiences you’re more neutral towards, like your average trip to the supermarket, it will start expanding your horizons. Instilling the notion that you can write about anything is the first step. Work your creative muscles in an area outside of their comfort zone, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Do not leave the moment


Stay present throughout your joys. That is so important. While some more “negative” memories are rightfully seen as formative, we don’t often think of “positive” memories in such a light. That is so bizarre to me. After all, where would we be without both?


The reality is that all writing has a basis within lived experience…even fictive writing. While authors may not have gone through the experiences they present to their characters, they have still experienced emotion and pulled from that emotion during the creation of their work.


Lyrically/poetically, some of the most modern popularized examples of this would be Taylor Swift’s albums folklore and evermore. The albums’ contents are fictive, yet draw on very real human conditions. One such song of note is “champagne problems”, where Swift lays out the tale of a couple who had very differing goals for their relationship. One wanted to cut off the relationship and was not in good mental straits, while the other wished to marry them. Tragically, they make their respective wishes known the same night at an early holiday gathering amongst family and friends when the proposal is declined.


Without her own emotions or life experiences to draw on, Swift could not have written such a tale so compellingly. Similarly, we cannot compellingly write about our joys if we are not present during them.


  1. Truly reflect


Ironically enough, I find it easiest to write positively or with gratitude when I get into a pensive mood. When you reflect on life as a whole, it helps you process all of your experiences. You can contextualize and put language to those experiences as you process. Sometimes, you even catch small joys and subtlety in the mundane and still. This is yet another reason why I said earlier to let joyful moments be what they are and not stress over jotting everything down during them. We often can’t identify the intricacies of emotion until this processing has begun. Sometimes, it is even best to write down what happens during the act of processing itself. That can be powerful.


  1. Don’t force it


True joy, I’ve found, often isn’t as boisterous as we’d think. It is more of an internal, gentle warmth. But, of course, everyone perceives joy differently. My point is that there’s no need to oversell or be melodramatic in your presentation of these emotions. It creates an off-putting and strained atmosphere around the work. In fact, it could almost seem as if you’re trying to convince yourself or the audience that this truly was a positive moment rather than letting the moment speak for itself.


  1. Size and depth aren’t as relevant as you would think


This may be a controversial opinion, but I truly mean it. You don’t have to write the longest, most elaborate pieces to articulate your joys. Nor do you have to write the most deep or heartfelt pieces on it. After all, all of our emotions possess variance in intensity. We’d get burnt out if we only wrote about our deepest traumas, correct? So if we don’t always write about the absolute lowest of lows, who says we have to always write about the absolute highest of highs?


Practice. Write about that coffee that was perfectly made and started off your day right. Write about the time that shower water temperature was just perfect for you. Who cares? It is your life, your work, your mind, your world view. Nobody else could hope to compare or replicate it. Embrace that. Embrace all facets of yourself.


Much love. Until next time! Thank you so much for reading, and please stay safe out there.


“The man in ecstasy and the man drowning: both raise their arms.” - Franz Kafka


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