April 29, 2010

The last of today’s devices from Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary:  A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices

Tone: The accumulated effect of style, coloration, and texture. Like atmosphere in a short story or like mood in symphonic music, tone in poetry is the result of particular choices which affect the reader’s overall feeling toward a poem.

One of those choices is “context.” If a poem is part of a collection of poems, the poems often work together to set a tone.

A few years ago, I started working on a group of poems based on the concept of self-portraiture.  Each poem was titled “Self Portrait: [here I would name the speaker of the poem].  It was a fun exercise.  I wrote what I thought were credible (if not true) assessments of myself through that person’s eyes.  I tried to pick people who know me well, and also people who only know me in a certain context (for example, “The Doctor”).

I am going to share with you one of these self-portrait poems because, by itself, its tone is entirely left up to the reader. Where I placed it in the collection, however, would set the tone for the reader; do you agree? Thanks for reading!

Self-Portrait:  The Dog
(by Suzanne B. Leitner)

What a bitch!

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