A response poem is a poem in which the poet responds in some way to another original piece of writing. Generally, the purpose of the response poem is to look at the original contribution from a different angle, while echoing the same themes. Additionally, response poems are crafted with their own interpretation, supporting the connection to a broader or more niche audiences. For you as writers and poets, response poems are helpful in developing your own unique style, grow your creative talents, and find or strengthen your poetic voice. Finally, response poems help to organically grow and build the writing community within and outside the Caribbean diaspora, and Canada.
Canadian Award Winning Poet Rupi Kaur wrote that “Poetry is the language of human emotion.” Fundamentally, I believe that poetry is ultimately a “human connective language”. As such, through the writing process of response poems, one original piece of writing can be connected to another original piece of writing.
Relevancy in Modern Contemporary Writing
One may ask if response poems are relevant in modern writing? Yes, I personally believe that response poems have significant importance as a source of inspiration and motivation for emerging writers. Factually speaking, response poems provide the opportunity for writers to challenge themselves, grow new skills and abilities, relate disparate topics, discover personal styles and poetic voices, and connect to a wider writing network or niche communities.
Value of Response Poems
Response poems are based on authenticity, for which, their purpose is increasingly valuable given the rising use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT to create content. Overall, I consider the use of response poems as the “ultimate ripple effect“, one that seeks to credit the original contribution while concurrently introducing through the response poem, the original contribution to diverse or niche audiences. Ultimately, response poems are not to be considered in any way, shape or form, a constructive criticism of the original piece. Thus, I speak of the original contribution or original piece of writing as the point of reference for this blog on response poems.
General Steps for Writing Response Poems
7 steps are recommended for creating an authentic response poem. I highly recommend the following steps:
- Read or listen to the original piece of writing to determine writing interest. I generally recommend if the original contribution is available in both written and audible form, then you should fully maximize the opportunity to determine if the work speaks to you or you feel connected and inspired in some way. Inspiration is the start of creativity.
- Analyze deeply and strategically the context, style, language, themes and poetic construction of the original piece of writing. This step is critical in constructing the response poem.
- Determine what interpretation or angle that you would like to present to your specific audience.
- Draft your response poem. Select your style, poetic construction, word selection, themes and imagery.
- Review your response poem to confirm your interpretation. This will help you grow in confidence.
- Complete final edits on your response poem.
- Credit the original contribution with a link to the source.
My First Response Poem
For my response poem, I selected the original contribution, which is a 2023 Trinidadian soca song entitled “Long Live Soca“, written by Aaron ‘Voice’ St. Louis. Given that the original contribution was a song, there were visual and audio aspects to pull from similar to that of spoken word poetry. Let me paint you a picture of what captured my interest both as a writer and visual artist.
The cover of the song release was an animated image of Caribbean moko jumbie playing steelpan in Trinidad (a Caribbean island famous for steelpan) with skyscrapers in the background, and I absolutely felt beach vibes. Visually, it triggered a memory of touristic scenes of island life and destination tourism marketing. When compared to the Canadian harsh winters at the start of any calendar year, the imagery appeared comforting. Because the steelpan stood out visually and in the instrumentals of the song, it captured my attention and became the leading theme of my own interpretation for my response poem.
Did I face any challenges in constructing the response poem?
Overall in constructing this response poem, I faced a number of challenges, for which I was able to leverage my creativity to overcome strategically. Here is the breakdown of elements, I analyzed from the original contribution that I kept in the response poem. They are as follows:
- The use of quantifiable expressions- for me this meant an emphasis on precision
- The role of the time dimension
- Central themes of life and legacy
- Emphasis on degree of action – The rhythmic nature of soca music, the genre of the original piece, is defined by action, dancing and energetic vibrations.
- Keeping the word selection visually appealing and stimulating
- Maintaining a rhythmic poetic construction
Feel free to drop me an e-mail email@example.com if you found other interesting elements. I always embrace my growth journey.
Incorporating My Own Style and Poetic Voice
For my response poem, I focused on using time to tell the story of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the music industry while relating it to topics of life, nature, survival and legacy. Also, I incorporated hints of technology elements, and the aspects of creativity and creative processes that support steelpan production and music in the Caribbean. Thus, I added my personal style of interlaying technology with artistic processes to connect seemingly disparate areas in new ways. Furthermore, I used my personal flare for connecting of visually appealing words and related topics together to fully capture the story. Finally, in the last two lines of the response poem, I made some connectivity to other contributions written by the same writer (see YouTube) in 2023.
Process Completion on Response Poems
Overall, I constructed my response poem in roughly 1 week to complete ( 1 draft, 1 review and 4 self-edits) from beginning to end. After this, my editor completed additional editing, separately. Specifically, when it comes to creating response poems, I kindly suggest taking time to work through your own writing process. Also, I suggest that you develop your skill, practice your craft, and gain momentum and FINISH. Moving from creative imagination and inspiration to a tangible output takes courage, focus and discipline.
Promoting Your Response Poems
Social media is a great way to promote yourself, your creativity, and writing ability. Generally, here are my suggestions for response poems and creating that ripple effect:
- Post a verse (words only)
- Post a verse and graphic using Canva
- Create a reel of the verses (with captions)
- Create a reel of a spoken word performance that is engaging
- Share a story of your creative process
- Share a story inviting others to respond to your response poem
The Original Contribution
Song Title: Long Live Soca, written by Aaron ‘Voice’ St. Louis, you can check out the Vibes with Voicey website. View the official You tube link to the song. An unofficial lyric video was also located on another You tube content creator. A Trinidad article on Celebrating 50 years of soca music from 1973 to 2023, notes the timely title of the song.
My Original Response Poem
Title: SteelPandemic by Credell Simeon (C.S.)
The pandemic took from us the music of island life. Lyrical and creative artistry Mastered over the beat of the oil drum Delivering that magical sound that made us culturally famous - Residing in the best destination under the sun Where music and nature are harmoniously one: One beat, One movement, One rhythm, One soul, One love, The sweet sound of life, so beautifully loud.
Download full response
Stay Tuned for More Response Poems
Anticipating the next response poem or you want to provide feedback on this blog. Feel free to reach out to me and the studio via firstname.lastname@example.org