Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Poetryisms are phrases that sound mildly strange to "normal people" yet completely natural to poets and writers. This is a particular favorite of mine:
What does this poetryism mean?
What I love about this poetryism is that “hit us with the heavy” means exactly that.
As poets and poetry appreciators, we want to feel just as heavy as the speaker feels. We want to feel our hearts tugged at, hit in the gut, whatever it is that will convey the same strength in emotion that the speaker feels.
What drives an audience, whether readers or listeners, to become invested in a poem and eventually to become fans of your work, is the way your poetry makes them feel. It's what your poetry does to them. How memorable it is. How much it speaks to them.
Did you make them cry? Laugh? Make an ugly face (which is a high compliment)? Did they get angry along with you? Feel empowered? Even feel seen and understood?
If you did, they will most likely be back to read more, listen to more, talk to you about how you impacted them.
So come on, hit us with that heavy! Take us there with you!
How to write to guide your reader's emotions
But how? How do you hit a reader with the same heavy you feel?
The short answer is to KILL ALL CLICHES (a motto I live by and impose on my workshop).
The long answer is to start with your experience. Write what you know. Be willing to be vulnerable and raw in your piece. Then as you revise, go through and find the expected language, cliches, and sentimentality. Once you've identified those spots, hold yourself to a higher standard and brainstorm metaphors, analogies, and unexpected wordplay options that fit the theme, tone, and rhythm you've set up in your poem.
Easier said than done, I know. But I believe in you! You have the poetic strength in you to make it happen. And if you have a writing community around you, lean on them to help hold you to that higher writing standard. You've got this.
Now go, revise, and hit us with that heavy!