“How is topic different from theme?” This very question bubbled up while I was working on my previous Theme: A Story’s Soul post. So I figured, “Why not explore it further?” Many writers mistakenly use the terms “topic” and “theme” interchangeably, and this would be the perfect opportunity to explain how they’re different – and how topic is actually a vehicle for illustrating theme.
When my previous DIY MFA post went live, I might have mentioned it was the first of two posts I’d write about literary themes and poetry. 😉 So today’s post is the unofficial part two! It’s about identifying themes in the poetry you write using the original source of the poem’s inspiration (or, rather, what the poem’s about), your reasons for writing it in the first place, and the emotions you were feeling that influenced the poem’s tone. I also share examples from my own poetry to explain this process, then end the post with a thoughtful question: Why is it important for a poet to know the themes they cover in their work?