Tag Options for Poetic Themes

Brendan David Creel's Upon Another Why and When is a book of diverse themes. Every poem is given three colored labels (called "tags") summarizing its main themes. Tags appear at the top of the page to alert readers what to expect. The tag search system can find all poems in the book that match your favorite themes: whenever you see a tag anywhere on the website, you can click on it for a list of current poems with that tag. Please understand tags are a courtesy, so they're not guaranteed to be comprehensive or accurate, and they are subject to change without notice.

The faith tag is used to represent faith in both the religious and general sense. It usually includes references to deities, angels, paradises, or other elements common to religious lore. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the word 'hope'. Be aware this tag is used for criticism of faith as well as appreciation for it.

The reason tag is most often used for poems making a reason-based argument, but it's also used for poems exploring the idea of reason itself. In addition to denouncing logical fallacies, it also sometimes overlaps with scientific (and other scholarly) topics.

The atheism tag covers philosophies of doubt. This includes not just disbelief in the existence of gods, but also uncertainty (agnosticism) and apathy (apatheism) toward it. There can be overtones of nihilism (the rejection of purpose), skepticism (the demand for informed belief), and empiricism (the idea reality is determined by physical senses alone.)

The love tag is a tribute to humankind's favorite emotion. With more facets than any jewel, love comes in as many varieties as there are people worth loving. A threadbare love may become twisted, and a frail love, shattered, but true love is durable and stronger than all things.

The beauty tag suggests the poem it decorates has high aesthetic quality. The visuals may be ambitiously descriptive, or perhaps the vocabulary is unapologetically purple. On some generous occasions, beauty herself steals the spotlight and becomes the theme.

The queer tag proudly stands out as a representative for themes endearing to non-traditional lovers. Focused on pride, passion, ignorance, and intimacy, the opportunities for this tag are as varied as the colors of the rainbow.

The obsession tag is used for poems with examples of (typically harmful) self-compelled behavior. It is a candidate for most addiction-related themes, though not all obsessions are substance-based. Compulsory behavior impressed on someone or something else is instead given the 'control' tag.

The vice tag is a catch-all for unethical or unsavory behavior not specifically covered by other tags. It adequately represents the classical sins as well as modern social ills, be they deficits of virtue or abundances of selfishness.

The danger tag warns of antagonists or scenarios that, if experienced first-hand, would bring real threat of injury or death. In circumstances where some threat of harm is a surety, the 'doom' tag is used instead.

The violence tag is mostly limited to conflict and destruction on large scales: wars, riots, and genocides all fall under its domain. It is also used, rarely, to foreshadow violent imagery or natural disasters. For violence against individuals, the 'abuse' tag takes precedence.

The suicide tag warns the reader that the poem contains themes of suicide, in which a person ends his or her life. This includes allusions, contemplations, and references to suicide or its methods. This tag has higher priority over other tags and will be present on every poem having suicide themes without exception. In no circumstance does any poem give incentive or instruction for suicide. The poet is not suicidal.

The abuse tag indicates a form of abuse in the poem on which it appears. Abuses may take physical forms like battery and torture, or discreet but no less harmful emotional and psychological manifestations. In some cases abuse will be figurative, like abuses of power or trust. Sensitive readers must assume the tag is literal and serious before continuing.

The doom tag is a suggestion that something very unfortunate is going to befall either the narrator of the poem or its subjects. Malevolent events prophesied in these 'doomed' poems are implied to be impending and certain. Non-apocalyptic poems are tagged with 'fate'.

The fate tag on a poem is a guaranteed challenge to free will. Illusions of choice, manipulations of time, and readings of the future are but fingers in the inescapable grasp of destiny; or so these poems would have you believe.

The time tag, while understandably stamping poems with (ahem) time-critical themes, is also necessary for those where time intervals play an instrumental support role. Any explicit timescale ranging from just seconds to untold eons proves worthy of this tag.

The friendship tag is found on poems about friendships. Themes include making new friends, appreciating old friends, and losing friends through choice or misfortune.

The happiness tag is not just about happiness, but also the desire for it and the means to find and keep it. Poems about happiness need not be happy themselves.

The family tag is reserved for expressing feelings about familial relationships. Family is not limited to kin; it encompases all circles of people who would welcome us as such.

The inhibition tag concerns everything you could have done and would like to do were it not for lack of sufficient courage. Inhibition themes often express regret.

The control tag describes outside influences (often beyond our ability to avoid) that limit the way we think, feel, or behave. In a world where freedom is considered a virtue, control is generally perceived as vice. It ranges from manipulation to outright slavery, so poems with this tag often have narrators lamenting, escaping, or criticizing it.

The fear tag on a poem means either that the content of the poem is anxiety inducing or that the narrator is unnerved in some way. Fear may be rational or phobic. Its forms vary from acute and visceral, like terror, to broad and suffocating, like dread. For internalized fear, the 'inhibition' tag replaces it.

The nature tag is used sparingly for natural phenomena. It will most frequently coincide with themes involving weather, flora, landscapes or other natural settings. The nature tag is rarely used for animals, which already have entire chapters dedicated to them. It bears little relation to intrinsic proclivity, which is also colloquilally referred to as 'nature'.

The mystery tag deals with the unknown, and is commonly employed in poems where the narrator isn't omniscient. Poems with multiple, ambiguous interpretations are also considered mysterious. It decorates poems with creative or confusing language, but poems challenging the reader to uncover their mysteries are tagged 'riddle'.

The riddle tag indicates a poem is deliberately hiding something, typically the subject of its message. Riddles are famous for explaining in great detail something other than what they acually mean, rewarding ambitious and studious readers for unlocking what remains sealed away from others.

The fantasy tag explores ideas that are impossible or unbelievable. Monsters and miracles, dreams and paradoxes are all contenders of the imagination worthy to be labeled elements of fantasy. 'Magic', a prevailing fantastical idea itself, gets its own tag.

The magic tag manifests in those poems where the impossible is made possible. It is the favorite tool of wizards, witches, elves, spirits, and other fictional beings.

The adventure tag will accompany any poem on a thrill-seeking journey. It celebrates the discovery of new places and people, heroic growth in promising individuals, and the triumph of courage in the face of danger. Not all adventures have satisfying endings, but they are worth having nonetheless.

The virtue tag denotes that careful balance of goodness and lawfulness that, when maintained, makes everyone better for it. It is sibling to justice and fairness. Virtue can be absent not only from those who foreswear it, but also those who espouse it: Blinded by pride, they unbalance the scale by tipping it too far in one direction.

The artistry tag introduces a poem themed around creative talent. It addition to spiritually and emotionally affirming arts, it also includes practical talents and trades. Arguably the most popular of these subjects is music, which is tagged separately.

The music tag is the key to finding poems with undertones of lyrical or instrumental music. Some poems (usually atypical in meter) have musical accompaniment, but this tag is only used to indicate music in theme. Scored poems may name the form associated with them, like "fugue," "round," "sonnet," or "ballad." As of yet, music files are unavailable.

The inspiration tag is a motivator toward positive experiences. Any poem using this tag typically includes a call to action. They are overwhelmingly uplifting, but not without their caveats; some include warnings for inaction, while others can only recommend making the best of a bad situation.

The celebration tag serves two purposes: to identify poems enthusiastically promoting their subject matter, and also poems whose characters are themselves participating in celebration. Beware! Not all celebrations are wholesome — some can be outright ghastly.

The freedom tag is a staple of any poem that champions personal potential and informed, capable decision-making. Often used synonymously with the construct of rights, freedom is the path to growth and self-discovery. For abuses and infringements of freedom (censorship, imprisonment, slavery, et al) consider the 'control' tag.

The neglect tag concerns the abandonment of people and things for which we are responsible. Most poems with this tag center on the ways we neglect each other, but also featured are those written about the neglect of our duties, our principles, and ourselves.

The memory tag is themed around what we remember, what we forget, and why. Memories are impermanent and subject to the perspectives of those who recollect them, so poems with this tag are frequently bittersweet.

The loneliness tag echos with the experiences of solitary. Though widely assumed to be a misfortune, some people take relief in loneliness. Very rarely, it can even be considered preferable to the raucousness of crowds and the responsibilities of family and friendship.

The depression tag represents the syndrome of the same name. It makes easy things feel difficult, and difficult things, impossible; it comes bundled with the anxiety of having simultaneously too much time and not enough, and anyone or anything visible through its haze is robbed of charm and novelty.

The guilt tag means a poem addresses a failure of justice as its subject or a crisis of conscience expressed by the narrator. Its presence indicates a wrong done in lieu of a right.

The grief tag is appropriate for poetry coping with death. Grief is an extremely complex emotion irrevocably tangled with a host of others; I believe its definition can only ever be approximated, due to the inadequacy of describing it in any number of words.

The death tag applies to the concept of death, the personification of death, literal physical death, and figurative death. A staple in most existential poetry, this tag appears more often than any other. It will appear in poems concerning both animals and people. A death tag alongside an 'abuse' tag typically indicates murder. Death tags do not tag 'suicide', which is a theme delicate enough to warrant its own tag.

The illness tag signfies a bodily illness, including (but not limited to) physical, mental, and neurological forms of disorder and unwellness. For social, spiritual, or behavioral unwellness, the 'vice' tag is used instead.

The aging tag describes the impact of time on a living thing, and this its primary distinction from the 'time' tag. The topic of aging may be approached from the perspective of narrators from the very young to the very old.