Words Like Clay
I think of poetry as a craft. As a craft poetry resembles pottery, carpentry, gardening, quilting, and many other crafts that people engage in. The one craft that I compare poetry to most frequently, in my own mind, is pottery.
The potter shapes clay into significant forms such as cups, plates, teapots, etc. The poet shapes words into significant forms such as sonnets, villanelles, tanka, etc.
Each craft has tools. For the potter the potter’s wheel is central. As the wheel turns the potter shapes the clay in the potter’s hands. For the syllabic poet counting has the same function as the wheel does for the potter. Through counting the poet shapes words into specific forms. Each form possesses a pattern of counting and it is that pattern of counting that defines the poetic form. As formless clay is poured through the potter’s hands on the potter’s wheel yielding specific forms, so words are poured through the wheel of counting by the poet resulting in the specific forms of poetry.