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Thread: How do I write better poetry?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW satyesu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    How do I write better poetry?

    A/o improve what I have? I can't believe the search function found nothing on this.

  2. #2
    i have a cunning plan SuperModerator poetinahat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    east of the womb, west of the tomb
    Maybe because every single thread here is, in the end, about writing better poetry. The Critique subforum is full of the works of people trying to improve their poetry writing. It's a much better place to start than the search function.

    I think you'll find that, if we agree on one thing here, it's that there's no silver bullet, no formula. If there were, I know I wouldn't give a dam about reading or writing it; it wouldn't be interesting, diverse or beautiful. There's no shortcut: if one wants to write better poems, one has to read and write poetry and the literature about poetry.

    Having said that, I can recommend a couple of readable, helpful, informative and eminently enjoyable books:

    - The Poetry Home Repair Manual, by Ted Kooser
    - The Ode Less Traveled, by Stephen Fry
    "Let them leave language to their lonely betters
    Who count some days and long for certain letters;
    We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
    Words are for those with promises to keep."
    - W.H. Auden, "Their Lonely Betters"

  3. #3
    Miss Conceived Liralen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Two things that I've found have helped me:

    Read what I've written out loud to myself

    Distill the poem down to its essence
    The creative writing process is a lot like emotional binge and purge cycles.

    Can you find the Pitbull?

    WIP ~ The Black Dog Dialogues: At the raw, dark fringes of exhaustion, there is The Black Dog

  4. #4
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    In chaos
    Read a lot of really good poetry.

    Then read a whole lot more.

    Keep doing that.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Billytwice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    S.Wales UK
    You could also read a lot of really bad poetry.
    I have and really enjoyed some of them.

    The secret is just read lots of poetry.
    Quitting smoking is easy.
    I've done it hundreds of times.

    Failure is not an option. It's a way of life.
    Capital Criminal


  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    What kind of poetry do you want to write better?

  7. #7
    Grand Duchess Ambrosia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    In the Castle, of course.

    Take one of your poems that you have finished and stick it into the crit forum. Then pay attention to the comments you get on how to improve the piece. Then revise it and post it back in that thread. And pay attention to the feedback you get on it.

    Improving your writing of anything takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. And reading, particularly in the genre you are interested in writing in. In this case poetry. If you are going for a specific type of poetry, say haiku, read as much haiku as you can get your hands on. But read sonnets, too. Because reading other types of poetry will show you things you won't get by just reading haiku.

    Read, write, listen to comments, revise.

    "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."


  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Drink more alcohol. Live a short, tragic life on the edge. It has worked for many poets, though they may not have lived to reap the benefits.

  9. #9
    Aquarius theDolphin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    So loving the answers in here, from Wanderer's to Old Hack's! This is why I love this place.

    I've nothing much to add, save a suggestion in accordance with those recommending a lot of reading. Consider getting yourself the latest Norton's Anthology of poetry. Read it cover to cover. If you get a chance, read about those poets as well, about their styles, what they were going for, what they believed they were achieving.

    The great thing about reading and studying poetry is not just the visceral appreciation and sheer joy of it, though you'll find that in abundance. But as with writers or artists of any discipline, it allows you to understand what's come before you. It gives you context and awareness of the continuum. I am certain there are wonderful poets and savants who can achieve greatness without that knowledge, but I think we're privileged to have it available to us.

    Good luck!

    sparrow in the treetop - tweet, tweet!

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    A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
    Maya Angelou

  10. #10
    Gun in Mouth Blues bigb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Baltimore MD
    After you write a poem, don't read it for a month. Then post it in the crit section. I find that it will read differently, and I can edit it before putting up for crit. This makes the critique easier to understand. Just my thoughts, and I'm truly a hack.
    Life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.
    Bill Hicks

    Link to my latest article, if your into baseball


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