Instagram Poetry: Create Personal, Visual Vignettes for Self-Expression | Alison Malee | Skillshare

Instagram Poetry: Create Personal, Visual Vignettes for Self-Expression

Alison Malee, Poet & Performer

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9 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:32
    • 2. Your Instagram Poetry Project

      2:39
    • 3. Choosing Your First

      3:37
    • 4. Describing a Moment

      6:14
    • 5. Writing Your Poem

      5:36
    • 6. Extracting Your Line

      0:58
    • 7. Creating Your Visual

      3:35
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      1:12
    • 9. Explore More Classes

      0:33
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About This Class

With the rise of Instagram, we all have a chance to share our voice! In this inspiring short class, you'll learn a new way to connect with friends and followers—and create a personal, beautiful poetry vignette!

In this bite-sized class, poet and performer Alison Malee shares her step-by-step process for transforming personal experiences into visual vignettes: a unique combination of text and image, perfect for sharing on Instagram. Through a series of simple exercises, you’ll learn how to:

  • Choose a moment to inspire your poem
  • Describe an experience using poetic language
  • Select an excerpt to use as your vignette
  • Arrange and photograph your vignette to share

All are invited to join this class and stretch their creativity. Whether you’re looking for a new outlet for self-expression or a fresh perspective on poetry, you’ll gain the tools you need to write an open, honest poem, transform it into a beautiful vignette, and share it with your friends and followers online!

Download the Class Worksheets to use as a guide during the class.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Writing has always been a part of me. I write because writing is the best way I know how to process my life. Hi, my name is Alison Malee. I am a writer, poet, and performer, and I'm going to be teaching you a class today about how to begin writing poetry. One of the questions people ask me the most frequently is, how do I begin writing poetry? I wanted to create a class that would give people an access point to begin writing and concordat. Today, we're going to be working on creating your first piece of poetry. We are going to be writing a completed poem and then we're going to be pulling one or two lines to create a personal vignette. These personal vignettes are a great way to share your work in a visually engaging way. We are breaking down poetry writing into bite-size steps. We are narrowing the lens from maybe the broad and intimidating view of a poem to something that is very tangible and specific. We're going to be looking at poetry as a way of storytelling, as a way of communicating your own lived experiences. I think poetry allows for this really beautiful connection between the author and the reader. When you write poetry, you're writing from your deepest most intimate moments. I am so excited to begin writing with you guys. So let's get started. 2. Your Instagram Poetry Project: Before we dive into our exercises, let's just talk a little bit about poetry and what poetry is. Poetry is writing that focuses on the expression of emotion whether that's through language or style or rhythm. Poetry has existed for hundreds of years and has always grown and shifted with the times. Recently, poets have found a way to share their work online that is bite-size and digestible and gives the readers a glimpse into their work. One of the most popular platforms for sharing has become Instagram. There are thousands of writers sharing their work online and of those, there are a multitude that use social media as a springboard to further their writing careers. Some popular examples are artists such as Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, RM Drake, and Trista Mateer. Some of these authors write very short form poetry and it is shared in the same way online as it is in their books and others, write very long-form poetry and take a line or two and share that on social media. The poetry that is shared online is often very personal, open, and honest. Because of this, it is easily relatable and resonates with a really wide audience. Many of these artists will combine their poetry with a visual which will allow their work to be shared across social media and will reach an incredibly wide audience. In this class today, we're going to be working through exercises that allow you to create something very similar. We are going to be combining poetry and a visual to create a beautiful personal vignette. I think in general, humans are such a visual creatures, that taking poetry that taps into their emotions and then adding, engaging, and captivating imagery on top of that really just takes the reader's experience to a whole other level. We are going to be working through a couple of exercises to help guide you as you begin this writing journey. The purpose of these exercises is to help you write and create your own poetry based on your own lived experiences. Then once you have a poem that you are proud of, we are going to teach you how to extract a line or two to begin creating your own personal vignettes. I will be doing the exercises live right alongside you today so that you have a reference point as you move through the class. There is a beautiful renaissance happening right now for poetry. So if poetry is something you have been interested in learning about or writing, now is a really wonderful time to start and continue on that journey. So find a quiet space, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let's get started. 3. Choosing Your First: We are going to be writing a poem about personal growth and to help us do that, we are going to be utilizing the prompt, what did you do for the first time this year? First, can be scary, or fulfilling, or exciting but at the core they are inherently personal which makes them a great jumping off point when writing the kind of poetry we're working on today. Think of your journey of personal growth this year and try to find moments that stand out to you as milestones or small moments that meant a lot to you. These moments can be mental milestones, as in a moment of personal growth or awareness or maybe it's a physical milestone where as you've learned a new skill or you've picked up a new hobby. Once you have your list of first, we're going to be picking one specific moment that you can use to focus on throughout the rest of our writing exercises. We're going to start by creating a list of your top five firsts from the year. Think of the big moments that instantly jump out at you and then try to push yourself and think of the quieter, smaller firsts that you might not think of right away. I'm going to go ahead and start my lesson first from the year, and I'm going to be using this typewriter here but feel free to use a pen and paper or the notes tab of your phone or a computer, whatever you have at your disposal. The first thing on my list is my first time giving a seminar. I taught a poetry and creative writing seminar this past year and it was definitely a standout moments for me. The second thing on my list was seeing my book in a bookstore for the first time. I cried, I wept tears of utter, disbelief, and joy and I couldn't even believe that it was my book on a shelf and it was definitely a surreal moment for me. The third thing on my list is the first time I performed at the Bowery which is a poetry club here and then high-end and was a definite milestone for me as a poet and a performer. The fourth thing on my list is the first time I purchased a house which was such a big milestone for myself and for my family. We now live outside of the city, which means we have more space to run around and play. The fifth and final thing on my list, is meeting my daughter Rylan for the first time which was such a life-changing moment. Once you've taken some time to reflect on your list of firsts, select one that you'd like to delve into a little bit deeper. Out of my entire list of firsts, the one that I landed on was meeting my daughter Rylan for the first time. Think about how you felt during each of these moments and then select the one that you feel the deepest connection to. Now that you have your firsts, in the next lesson we're going to be discussing how to narrow the lens to find a specific moment. 4. Describing a Moment: In this lesson, we're going to be zooming in the lines just a little bit further to describe a specific moment within your first. Staring at a blank piece of paper can be very intimidating. So by describing a single moment plainly, you get all of your material down so you can begin poetry writing. It could be an event from the actual first. So for example, if my first was public speaking, it could be a moment where I made eye contact with somebody in the audience, or it could be the moment upon completion where I have stepped off the stage and I'm taking my first exhale. It could also be an event related to your first. So if your first this year was falling in love, may be the moment you want to describe as your first kiss. No matter what moment you choose, you want it to feel personal and be something that you want to explore further. Certain types of moments may lend themselves to poetry better than others. So for example, if you are looking at a moment that involves a lot of senses, it's going to be easier to describe. Moments that are more internal, can be more of a challenge but can also be more rewarding. Out of my entire list of first, the one that I landed on was meeting my daughter Rylan for the first time and when I looked into it a little bit further, the moment that I wanted to expand upon is holding her for the first time. Obviously, this is a very chaotic, hectic moment that I'm going to try and describe further but it was certainly the most life changing and the most important thing that happened to me in this past year. So let's start with a list of questions. What was the physical setting? What do you remember hearing? What do you remember seeing? What do you remember feeling? Describe all of this very plainly. We want you to have material that you can pull from to create your piece. Let's go ahead and make a quick list of answers to our census questions and then we're going to use that list to write a quick paragraph, maybe 5-10 lines going into a little bit more detail. The goal of this exercise is to get all of your material down on paper without the pressure of completing a piece right away. Start with physical setting, what was the scene like? For me, it was a hospital room. The middle of the afternoon, the sun was shining in through the windows. What did you see? In my case, it was my husband speaking to the doctor, holding hands and pale blue sheets. What did you hear? In the hospital room, there was crying, both me and the baby, laughter and joyous chatter. What were you feeling? In my case, I was excited, nervous, anxious, and absolutely thrilled. Your answers to these questions should be a simple list that allows you to have a jumping off point as we move forward in creating a short paragraph. Now that you have your moment, let's move forward and describe it in a more in depth way. Using your answers to the questions, we want to create a short paragraph. Now, this paragraph is basically just a re-telling of the moment. Start at the beginning and work your way through. Here's my short paragraph. Everyone is on high alert waiting patiently or at least trying to and then sometime past noon, my daughter is born into the world. Suddenly and loudly with fresh sweet eyes and a massive head of curly black hair. Bright sun shines through the windows, the doctor speaks with my husband quietly. There is chaos and beauty and joy. She wails and we all smile. The room is hushed for awhile as we take in this new little person welcome home. Because I had my list of answers to the questions we asked earlier, I was able to create a simple paragraph detailing the moments further. Following the mindset of narrowing the lines a little bit further, we're going to be able to use this paragraph as a jumping off point as we move forward in creating our poem. 5. Writing Your Poem: Now that you've done the legwork of discovering your moments and describing it in detail, we want to move forward and figure out how to speak about it with poetic or expressive language. Before we do that, let's speak a little bit more about poetic language and the devices you can use. Poetic devices are tools that a poet or a writer can use to create rhythm, enhance a poem's meaning or intensify a mood or feeling. There are many examples of poetic devices but the most commonly used ones are similes, metaphors, and personification. A simile is a very simple way to compare two things, always using "like" or "as". Example of this would be, the day was as fleeting as a goodbye. Another example of a simile would be, the sun sank in the sky like melting sorbet. A metaphor is similar but a metaphor is comparing two things without the use of "like" or "as". Metaphors are a little bit more subtle. For example, the day was fleeting, a goodbye and then gone. Another example of a metaphor would be, the sun sank in the sky the way melting sorbet drips down the side of an ice cream cone in the summer. Another commonly used example of poetic devices is personification, which is attributing human characteristics to nonhuman things. An example of personification would be, the leaves twirled joyfully, laughing as the wind chased them from their branches. The reason these poetic devices are so frequently used it's because they allow the reader to connect your lived experience with a moment or a feeling that can easily recognize. The main objective of poetic language is to show your reader versus telling them. Using plain language you might say, "What color is the sky?" Your answer to that is probably, "The sky is blue. " But in poetic language you might ask yourself, "How can I describe the color of the sky without naming it?" An example might be, the sky pivoted from ocean bottom to a crisp, clear morning. You can see how using poetic language allows you to paint a much more vivid picture. Keeping everything we just learned in mind, we want to take our big picture moment and narrow the lens into a very specific moment while still telling the overarching story. So for me, I am taking my big picture moment of meeting my daughter for the first time, narrowing the lines into the specific moment of holding her for the first time and what that felt and looked like for me. Using all of the exercises we just did, I want to tap into the emotion and the senses of the specific moment as I move forward to write my poem. [MUSIC]. Fresh, sweet eyes blink into soft focus, and startle at the waiting light and open faces. There is such stillness as the world outside pauses, wraps itself around this quiet moments. Like a frail little birds she folds herself into my chest, presses her cheek into my skin until we are both spreading our wings and sailing. It is an eruption and then chaos. Chaos and then a settling piece. I hook my finger through the small length of her palm, let the tears fall, welcome her home. While you're writing challenge yourself to use one or two of the poetic devices we discussed earlier. It will allow your reader a much greater insight into your moment. Now that you've written your poem, take the time to read it again. The next lesson we're going to select one or two lines in order to create your own personal vignette. 6. Extracting Your Line: In this lesson, we're going to be pulling one or two lines that tell a clear-cut complete story without the context of the rest of the poem, and using them to create a personal vignette. Look for lines that ring true to you and your story, or perhaps, take on a new meaning when isolated. These are the lines we are going to be using as we create our vignette, so make sure they are capable of standing on their own. Reading through my poem, the first line that stands out to me that I think tells a complete story on its own is, "We are both spreading our wings and sailing." When I isolate this line, it still conveys the message of the poem while also telling a completely different story. Now that I've selected the line, I'm going to go ahead and type it out on a separate sheet of paper. If you're at home and by a computer, feel free to type it and print it out, or grab a pen and a piece of paper. You just want it to be separate so that we can move forward creating our personal vignettes. 7. Creating Your Visual: Now we are going to be creating the visual behind your personal vignette. While creating your visual, you want to select objects or locations that enhance the poetry. There are many many ways to do this. For me personally, I have done something simple where I've used a flower or perhaps a pair of glasses or a pen and laid that on top of a piece of paper and taken the image from above, or perhaps you've cut out your poem and you want to hold it up in front of a beautiful background, whether that's like a landscape or a brick wall. Please don't be intimidated at all. This is a place to have fun and experiment. You're just adding another contextual layer to your poetry. There is no right or wrong way to do this. So feel free to do this in whatever way matches you and your personal style. We are both spreading our wings and sailing. This is the line I have chosen to create my personal vignettes and this is the prop I have decided goes along with it. I chose this because while reading through the line on its own, I felt a lightness and an arenas, and I wanted something that fit that visually so that we can photograph it and capture it. To photograph your poem, you don't need a fancy camera. I use my phone whenever I take these photographs, and I just center the poem on my screen. Feel free to move your prop around. You might want to try different compositions, whether that's with the shadows or with the prop itself and take a photograph that matches. Feel free to move your prop around, adjust the shadows, adjust to where you are focusing the lens, and then take a few different photographs. It is as simple as that. You've written a poem and now you've captured an image that adds dimension and depth to your work. For editing, I use a couple of different apps. There are a ton out there, but the ones that I find to be the most helpful are VSCO and Lightroom. You can go in and adjust the contrast or add brightness to your photo, and really make your poem and the words pop on the page. Another example of something you can do is to cut out or tear out your poem from the piece of paper and use it as its own object in front of different backgrounds or in different settings to add another level and another layer of texture to your poem. When I am tearing out the poem from my piece of paper, I like to fold it to create a box around the words and then I have guidelines for tearing. So the lines are straight, but you still have the frayed effect. I also personally like to use a heavier thicker card stock. I think it adds a separate layer of texture. Now that you have your poem torn out of the piece of paper, you can hold it up in front of a window, maybe in front of a beautiful doorway or a wall that has some texture and some depth to it and photograph it. 8. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for riding with me today. We have done everything from utilizing a prompt to taking a big picture moment and narrowing the lens and creating your first piece of poetry, to creating and capturing a beautiful personal vignette. I hope after taking this class, you feel a little boost of confidence in your writing and your ability to write, and you are not fearful moving forward. When you think about your poetry journey and your writing journey, you already have this piece under your belt. If participating in the class today inspired you to write a piece or to create a personal vignette, share it with us, upload it to the project galleries so that your peers can steer you on. Think of this class as a starting point. Learning to tell your story with grace and precision is a skill that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. I hope this class has been helpful for you in developing your voice as a poet and a writer. I hope that as you go forward, you continue to share your voice, your poetry, and your truths. I am incredibly excited to see what you guys create. Thank you so much for being a part of this class. 9. Explore More Classes: