Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Five Reasons to Write Poetry

“You need nothing more to write poems than bits of string and thread and some dust from under the bed”

Marvin Bell

“Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.”
Eli Khamarov

“Appreciating poetry is probably like appreciating anything else. It means having the generosity to let a thing be what it is, the patience to know it, a sense of the mystery in all living things, and a joy in new experience.”
M.C. Richards

You have a flash of insight, a metaphor for understanding electricity as water, a parallel to existence or just an inside reflection on what is wrong/right with the world. I’ve sat at this lake before the waterfall waiting for hours for more to follow, but that’s it and I start thinking about something else or worse, nothing at all, and then I forget what helped put the world in perspective.

Like journal writing, poetry can help record those thoughts and special insights in helping forge your feelings into a perspective so that you can start coming to terms with it, rather than having it subvert back to the inertia that carried the feeling or idea to consciousness to begin with. This can help you come to terms with the idea/feeling itself, to move forward with your growth as living human being. How? you ask?

1. It builds your brain.

The power of the metaphor, simile, parallel… figurative language is not only a good way to put things into perspective, but metaphors are easier to remember than a complex set of interactions. This is a way to grasp deeper meaning from perhaps a very mundane, or complex identity. It builds an understandable identity with which to contrast that is easier to grapple and engage in, in the process building pathways in your brain that would have been stopped cold otherwise.Â

And poetry exercises this muscle by encouraging figurative language providing a sounding ground for your ideas, feelings, reminiscences by putting them into a concrete perspective.

2. It’s therapeutic.

A dialog of one is still a dialog, and like journal writing provides an amiable outlet to vent our feelings. Not only that but we end up with something that is tangible and durable product of the struggle while coming to terms with it.Â

It is something we can show off, or keep around for a rainy day to either entertain ourselves, work on, or reminisce what you were thinking that day when you wrote it. It’s a little snapshot of your soul and what you were thinking when writing it.Â

This can grow into something new as you revise and/or write more as a poem can be never really finished. Thus it has the possibility of being exhaustless, while providing a forum for expression & understanding.

3. That tool you’ve developed is versatile.

Once you get the hang of writing poetry, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with it. It is an alternative form of communication. If you don’t believe me just look at all the greeting cards out there with this wit or wisdom scrolled up in Gothic lettering on every subject. It is a font of the English language, it’s just up to you what you want to put it up to.Â

I’ve written poems to magazines urging articles, I’ve used them to barter services and better grades in classes, I’ve written them to girlfriends. I’ve gotten people to laugh. They can be as complex or simple as you want to make them into, and I’ve found any place that required a logical argument, could always be appended with a poem in favor/or against something as well to clarify the position/picture, because after all, it’s just communication if on a more deeper level.

4. It encourages deeper intrapersonal relationships.

As you write, not only do ideas bloom, but you do also. Your vocabulary gets broader, your understanding about relationships between ideas grows and how this affects you and the world comes closer together. My biggest problem in dealing with people was not knowing whom I was, somewhere between egoless and consumer. Writing poetry enables the I in Identity, from which you can clearly communicate the you to the you in someone else.

People aren’t always going to be able to understand you, but writing poetry gives you an opportunity for personal space in which to critically think while expressing yourself to others in a coherent picture. Doesn’t mean you’ll come off all-knowing and wise, but that you’ll be given an opportunity to effectively communicate at your own pace which can come at a premium in this busy world.

5. You are opening yourself up to a wealth of human knowledge

By writing, you are doing the legwork in understanding other poets. There are as many ways to read poetry as there are people, but when you start thinking in a language are you more easily able to understand another in that language. There are thousands of poets and each of them write to different aim. Figurative language, prosody, sonics, description, narrative are all a language unto themselves and some will come easier for you to write than others, as well as understand. Poetry is a forum for exchange, not a universal language.

Writing poetry strengthens your reasoning and in so doing, yourcomprehension in just what that author means when he claims, all was mimsy in the borogroves. Best of all, it’s a free exchange of ideas.. there are thousands of websites and forums on the web and each have groups of people to interact and engage, both dead and alive, across the centuries from ancient Rome to the current Poet Laureate of the United States.

Vic Vosen is a writer, reader, and slam participant currently bonded in slavery as a mudlogger to the petroleoum industry from his education costs. He posts on Usenet forums, a blog, and various poetry web forums in his exploration and development of metaphor and sound.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Making a poem

Writing poetry is as easy as singing, well, actually bathroom singing. Anyone can do it and those that know the lessons and rules can excel. Poetry writing has to its vantage, the lenity of using the rules of language. Grammar and spelling for instance can be used or even misused, as against what the high school English teacher proclaimed (Grammar is the heart beat of language, miss one, end up dead!)

Poetry writing surges a sense of peace and fulfillment. It is of course “a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility” as William Wordsworth aptly said. Though there lives a poet in every human, many don’t attempt the effort for the fear of being mocked at or not knowing how to express oneself.

With the very rudimentary tips you will regret having wasted so much time not writing poems. In most cases you might find yourself saying “Yeah I know that”. Still I am jotting them down because the simplest are the ones that elude at ease. Not all or even none of these guidelines might be applicable to all the poems, for poetry writing is all about being an outlaw of language rules.

I hope you find these tips useful and good luck for exploring the new dimension.


Poem is what you think it is

Write whatever you think is poem to you. Not Shelly, not Wordsworth, not Milton. You and you alone can conceive your poem. Poem can be anything. The following was the first poem I wrote (it took me courage to quote it here)

Cat on the wall

Bird on the tree

Flower on the bloom

Me on the bus.

To me its one of my best written poems, hey note the rhyme. Sense or no-sense, poetry is all about a thought related by words.

Self-realization through poetry

Poetry is not explaining what you know or what you want others to know. It is more of an inward journey. When you write a poem, it leads to self-realization of what you know and what you don’t. Now I am not talking anything spiritual. Writing about a cat will make you realize how much you love/hate/feel neutral about cats. It is more of a self expression to your self.

Say anything, mean anything

Don’t bother too much with what the reader might interpret. They are of course going to take a different sense to what you write. That is in fact one of the blessings of poetry. Don’t go on explaining details, if you do, then you will end up writing prose not a poem. Let there be abrupt endings, unfinished sentences, unquoted meanings, but always organize your thoughts for yourself, not the reader.

Create a style

This is not mandatory, however it helps. Not that your poetry need to be confined to one type, for instance nature poets doesn’t mean you have to write all the while about trees and birds. But if you enjoy writing about nature, do it more often. Poetry is all about self-satisfaction.

Give yourself credit Mr.Poet

Give a break, and give yourself some credit. Review every poem you write. Find out your favorite sentence or sense and treat yourself with your favorite dessert for it (don’t forge to keep track of calories along the side of the poem). Enjoy the poem, some may be masterpiece, some might be bauble. Call yourself a poet and glow in your own limelight.

Watch out

Grammar and spelling may be taken for granted. However “ALWAYS” edit your poem. Singin’ for singing is poetic, but signin’ for singing is non-sense. Watch out for careless mistakes, both grammatical and spelling.

Don’t expect instant recognition

Your immediate family and friends are all the fans you will have in the first sway. That is not your goal, if you want to reach far, you must stay put and write and write until you are recognized. It might even take a lifetime, but it is bound to happen, if and only if, you stick on and write more.

Stand your point

If you are one that enjoys refutation, then do it with sufficient pride and points. Standing your point is very important in such aspect and more important are cogent words and precise message relation. It is challenging and interesting to write such argumentative poems. Pay close attention.

Use the language weapon

Similes, metaphors, rimes, and many such language aids are readily available to make the poem more likable and enjoyable. Use them as much and as often as you can. Irony, humor, melodrama, pity can all garnish the poem if used wisely. Don’t over do them, or don’t try hard to explain why your humor poem is humorous.

Write about everything

One of the best ways to realize your thoughts on something is to write about it. Certain topics may be delicate and you might not want to write them because of the nature of the issue. Still WRITE IT. If as a teen you want to overcome your curiosity on sex, write about it, nothings going worse. You will be surprised about the knowledge and maturity you have over the topic and so will you shed your fear of understanding.

Have an audience

Letting others read your poem takes a lot of courage, especially for beginners. But that’s exactly what you have to do. You will be mocked, laughed, or even stoned. Never let that stop you. Some will find your poem invigorating. Welcome criticisms and use it to your favor. Be patient and enthusiastic, you are ought to find it contagious.

Those empty moments

Certain moments, you sit to write a poem, only to feel every word, every idea, every thought to be taken out of your brains. Can’t find the right word, can’t find the right concept, well close your note (and eyes, might help) and think. Then write. Never say “no more to write”.

Write responsibly

Though you may be writing for fun or as a pass time, always remember that a responsibility comes with a writer. Your thoughts may be influential to a sect of audience you may never heard of, so always hold up the moral obligation as a sensible writer.

Learn from others

Find time to read others poems. It may not be those of literature gurus, contemporary poems might by far be enjoyable and they might even give you an insight to different style and form of poetry writing. Analyze it and take the positives of it.

Write baubles

Write as many bad poems as you can. Make sure they end in your own trash. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite them millions of times, if need be, but never let a poem that doesn’t satisfy you leave your desk. It’s the one control you must have.

Remember your masterpieces

May be not all you pen are your favorite poems. Likewise, may be not all lines of a poem are of your poetic genius. Pick out the best of the rest, in your opinion and have it by heart. You could use them in causal conversations as well. You are sure to be welcomed and in turn you will feel encouraged. They will always come handy for an impressive conversation. BEWARE- don’t be that boring geek that always talks poetic.

Words Words Words

Vocabulary is not essentially the must to write a good poem. But mastering words sure does helps in a way. Using appropriate words is always welcomed. High sounding and bombastic is not what I mean, but simple and elegant words that can convey the right meaning without having to explain in detail are often an asset. It is also a good practice to refer to dictionary for right words and their grammatical meanings.

Read your poem aloud

This might sound bizarre. But it helps too. You will not only enjoy the poem more, but also your confidence will increase on it. You might have the feel of how others read it in their mind and also you will spot the misplaced and misaligned sentences.

Publish, don’t hesitate

Never be hesitant on whether your poetry will be accepted or not. That’s not your concern. Send it across to as many editors as possible, as many publishers you can think of. Some may be accepted, many may be discarded. That is not the end of your poetry. With the online media embracing everything under and beyond the sky, you can always find a place to fit in.


Saturday, 26 December 2009

Word Choice in Poetry

Can poetry employ any sort of language? An odd question, but the beginning poet will often find his diction attacked as cliché or contrived. What can be said? Are there overall principles in important elements of literature?


Diction or word choice is indeed a difficult area. We might look at the practice of successful poets, since what worked for them will presumably work for us, but the overwhelming problem is that fashions change. The concrete, vivid and unpretentious is often preferred today, but the eighteenth century excluded such words, producing manuals to good tasteas indeed did the sixteenth, though with different rules. Movements often start as a reaction to styles that have become flabby or overblown, but manifestos are not always followed through. Wordsworth, for example, championed everyday speech in his preface toLyrical Ballads, but wrote the poetry in an educated tongue.

You'll be concerned with current writing, but even less agreement prevails today on poetry's proper aspirations, styles or content. An innocuous word like upon will pass unnoticed by many editorial boards, but bring automatic rejection from others. Diction shows allegiances, and allegiances are what you must bear in mind when submitting work to magazines and competitions. Diction or word choice is a ground fought over by the contending schools of poetry, and there is no final arbiter.

Some larger observations are possible, however, and they come as much from critics and philosophers as practicing poets. Etymology is important, since the Saxon, Norman or Latin root gives words their characters and dispositions. Too idiomatic an expression calls up the mundane, and is inappropriate in many instances. The poetic diction of the eighteenth century, though much derided today, was an attempt to remove contemporary and irrelevant associations of words and so release the full emphasis of their primary meanings.

You will need to think things through, and not swallow all that pundits say. An abstract language is not necessarily a dead language. "Our literacy programme will make your Government more accountable, and so give back to the disadvantaged majority their ancient birthright of democracy", says the aspiring presidential candidate. "First remove screws E and G", says the workshop manual. Both are using language suited to their purposes, and your work must do the same. Distinctions between abstract and concrete tend to become hazy when etymologies are traced back, moreover, and many abstractions have their root in simple physical processes.

Remember that lexicons are governed by social usage. The Elizabethans embroidered words with religious, courtly and pastoral associations. These trappings were gradually dropped, and the eighteenth century imposed a more correct and classical diction. The Romantics introduce a new inner world with cold, pale, grey, home, child, morning, memory, ear, feel, hold, sleep, turn, weep, etc. Later come moon, stir, water, body, shadow, house.The mid-nineteenth century popularized dead, red, rain, stone. Nineteen thirties poetry was packed with references to industrial buildings and social change. Current poetry is very idiomatic, if not deliberately uncouth .


1. Vocabularies not only reflect interests and fashions, but must be broadly effective in a contemporary setting. That is the argument against poeticisms and out-of date words like thee, 'tis, maiden.

2. Words never possess wholly transparent meanings, but in the more affective poetry their latent associations, multiple meanings, textural suggestions and rhythmic power are naturally given freer rein.

3. The touchstone is always the intended audience. "Word too familiar, or too remote, defeat the purpose of a poet," said Johnson, and that observation remains true, as much for traditionalists writing inside a poetic tradition as for others trying to kindle poetry out of naked experience.

4. Place your poems alongside others in magazines or anthologies in which you'd like to be included. If they don't fit, one reason may be your word choice.

5. Perform your poems in workshops and readings. Pay attention to the reception and to comments afterwards.

6. If in doubt, err on the side of everyday usage, even if it means spoiling the odd line.

from poetrymagic.co.uk

Why Writers Write

Writing is not just another hobby, it is an emotion. The words are not just fitted together in sentences and paragraphs hoping to pass on a message, but it is form of expression of our greatest fears, hopes and dreams.

As a teenager I had my share of problems just like any other, but I was different... special. My mind was not at ease telling my parents or friends about a situation that had occurred or even might occur. I didn't feel that a journal was just as my feelings were hard to explain in ordinary English. I had to find a way to express my love and hate about certain subjects, no matter how large or small.

I grabbed a pencil and paper and started writing. Using images, sounds and smells was easier than I had thought. My mind then became at ease with myself and I could live another day without wondering who or what I was going to tell my thoughts to. As the weeks and months ran on I became even more comfortable with writing my thoughts and feelings on paper, I didn't feel discomfort any longer.

Ever since I have written. It doesn't matter what others say or think about my writings, because I know what these poems meant and the history behind each one. Knowing that every single poem has a story and emotion greater than the comprehension of others give me satisfaction when receiving flame mails stating that I suck potatoes or bananas are more interesting than my poetry.

Writers write not because of what others think. We write because it makes us feel great about putting something on paper that will stay apart of us forever. No matter how much someone says our writing stinks, there will be ten others who appreciate the time, effort and emotion put into each one, and we will know that our writing was meant for us and only us.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Poetry Styles

The style of writing poetry differs from person to person; long or short meters, three or four lines to a stanza. But the great thing is, no matter how a poem is written it still holds great emotion. Some techniques used in poetry are onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, rhyming, simile and metaphor.

Onomatopoeia is one of the easiest to learn and use (but not spell). The definition of onomatopoeia is a word imitating a sound. For example; 'buzz', 'moo' and 'beep'. This can be used in a variety of ways giving the reader a 'hands on' feel.

One technique that you might be familiar with is alliteration. This procedure is used by starting three or more words with the same sound. An example of this would be 'The crazy crackling crops.' The three words don't have to have the exact same beginning to have this effect.

The next style is assonance. It is defined as a repetition of vowel sounds within syllables with changing consonants. This is also used in many different circumstances. One would be 'tilting at windmills.' Notice the vowels within each syllable sound the same.

Rhyming is probably the most well-known technique used. However unlike popular belief, it does not need to be within a poem to make it a poem. It is what it is.. a technique.

As for similes, they are often used within poetry. They are an expression that compares one thing to another. A paradigm of this would be 'The milk tasted like pickles.' This method is used in all forms of poetry and generally has the words 'like' or 'as.'

The last but not least style is metaphor. A metaphor is a word or phrase used one way to mean another. Metaphors are sometimes hard to spot and take some thinking to figure out, but they give writers more power to express their thoughts about a certain situation. One famous case where a metaphor is used is within 'The Raven' by Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, not only is it found within the story, the story itself is a metaphor of memory and the constant reminder of the narrator's loss.

These techniques are seen throughout history within both famous and amateur poems alike. To have a full grasp of poetry onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, rhyming, simile and metaphor should be household words.

To view a more comprehensive definition list of go here: Poetry Dictionary

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Aha! Recognizing Everyday Creativity

Recognizing insight in others stimulates our own aha! moments.

We know an aha! moment when we have one. An emotional exultation often experienced as light piercing darkness illuminates our mind as we see something we’ve never seen before. Recognizing that aha! as it takes place in someone else’s mind can sometimes be an equally moving moment of awareness. Last month one of us (Michele) witnessed the flare of insight in a 5th grade classroom in Mississippi. Here’s what happened, in Michele’s own words.

For some time now, I have partnered with my colleague Lynnette Overby to present a haiku dance workshop in association with the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts Partners in Education Program. As part of a recent gig, I had the opportunity to demo how some part of that workshop might shape a classroom lesson. I had 30 minutes to lead some 5th graders in an exploration of abstracting as a concept and as a framework for the writing of haiku.

Picasso's BullThe basic idea I hoped to get across is that abstractions are simplifications. They express the essence of some complicated experience or understanding. Picasso’s ‘Bull’ is an abstraction (see left). So is a science experiment. So are numbers and so are many kinds of poetry, especially haiku. What all these share is the finding of a simple thread that weaves its way among complex phenomena to yield a surprising insight. Haiku can help students “get” this concept by implementing it. The form is so spare it forces novice and master poets alike to strip some heightened experience of nature to its bare bones. Feelings, experiences, emotions and ideas that may at first occur as random images and impressions must be distilled into just a few words that are both efficiently descriptive and yet sufficiently ambiguous to carry multiple meanings and intentions.

As a prompt for the writing of haiku, I gave each of the students a different nature photograph. Step by step, they observed the photographs and imagined themselves within the scene. Then they recorded on paper the things they saw, as well as the things they imagined hearing, feeling, smelling and so forth. I call this “getting clay on the table.” Now the poets had ideas and words to work with as they learned to construct a haiku. First they pulled out a few words to describe where or when the observed scene took place. Then they pulled a few more words to describe the most important or remarkable thing in that scene – what and what about it. They assembled these words and phrases in the haiku’s traditional 3 line form. This was a lot to do in half an hour and there was just time left to share the poems and the photos with other children seated nearby and then with the group as a whole.

It was in the sharing that I recognized a moment of insight. One of the students, a young girl, drew my attention to one of the other student’s photograph and asked, what is it? I was disconcerted. I had tried to choose pictures of things the children would be familiar with, so that the imagined experience would have some of the richness of lived experience. The photograph in question focused on a spider weaving a blade of grass into a circular web. Spider and web were backlit by a reddish yellow sun. But the photo was not as easily parsed as I had thought.

“That’s a spider,” I said. I included the other girl in my explanation, the one who had actually written her haiku to that picture. “Did you see the spider?”

She shook her head no. “What did you see?” I asked.

“The sun,” she answered.

setting sunConsidering that she hadn’t seen the spider, I wondered what kind of impressions the sun alone had made on her. “Can I see your haiku?” She showed me something along these lines (I don’t have the exact words in front of me):

the rising sun
the sun is setting

I read the poem out loud to the two girls. “That’s an interesting abstraction,” I said. “Having two things happen that supposedly can’t happen at the same time makes an interesting poem. It makes me think.”

It made the first little girl think, too. A few minutes later, just as the class was dismissed she tugged at my sleeve.

“I think I know how the sun can rise and set at the same time,” she said. “My mother once lived way up north. I can’t remember where…”

“Alaska?” I asked.

“Yes. Alaska. My mom told me that in winter the sun comes up very low and then, before you know it, it goes down again.”

“You’re right!” I said. “How clever of you to think of that!”

How clever, indeed. That little girl had realized that during the Alaskan winter, the sun, even at it’s highest, looks like a setting sun at any other time of year in almost any other place. And since it goes almost straight across the horizon, a rising sun could not only look like, but act like, a setting sun. The girl had puzzled out an incongruity, reconciling two apparently incompatible ideas. Aha!

As the mathematician and poet Jacob Bronowski once wrote (and I paraphrase), the discoveries of science and art are each in their own way explosions of hidden likeness. The impromptu collaboration between the two girls yielded just such an explosion. If the first little girl gave voice to an intuitively felt contradiction, the second gave voice to the combustion of that tension. In puzzling out how a setting sun and a rising sun could simultaneously be one and the same, things that were different suddenly became one. What a wonderful illustration of everyday creativity!

And what a wonderful stimulant to my own everyday creativity. The more I think about it, the more I like that haiku, though I would add a final gloss:

rising sun
the sun is setting
day’s night

And even Bob, who rarely puts his mind to poetry--let alone haiku--was inspired:

far north
in evenings without days
the setting sun rises

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Tips for Writing Poetry

Writing poetry has always been about emotion; thrilling, bitterness and even humorous. Although it sounds simple enough, it isn't always. Poetry can be as complicated or as frivolous possible, it's all up to the author.

Poetry is food for thought and all food has its ingredients.

Writing poetry techniques

Show all senses. A genuine poem offers its readers a variety of senses to endure while reading.

  • Smell. Give the readers a mental smell of the scene. Create a situation where the reader can distinguish between a 'good' or 'bad' scent.
  • Touch. Is it rough, smooth, pleasurable? Give the reader a way to 'touch' the scenery.
  • Sight. What does it look like? Describe the scenery, describe the situation. Use words which will describe it easily without going too far into detail.
  • Hearing. Does it screech? Does it yelp? Or is it smoothing and sensual? Again, let the situation give a sense of what the surroundings sound like.
  • Taste. Is it salty or bitter? It doesn't always have to be food that has a taste. It could be a situation which leaves a 'bad taste in your mouth' or even a good taste.

Have a point. Why are you writing? What is it about? Although not always directly, show your readers the path to the meaning of the poem. Say what you want to say, but still let your readers decide on what the true meaning is.

Have rhythm. To be considered a poem, a writing must have rhythm. Let the meters flow smoothly off the tongue. This doesn't mean the poem has to have the same number of syllables every line or even every other. It means to allow the reader not to get tongue twisted while going line to line. Give it flow.

Don't rhyme unless it fits. Not all poems rhyme, in fact the majority do not. Many amateur writers tend to force rhymes where it doesn't need to be. Only use it when it fits the overall poem and helps bring the emotion to the reader.

Give the poem characteristics. A poem doesn't always have to fit inside a genre. Make it your own style. Use as much voice as possible. Show that there is a person behind the poem

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Poetry is for the Ear

A fine article on the SOUND of poetry - one of the subtler aspects of a poet's craft.

See the full article at


Friday, 18 December 2009

Lots of Poetry Writing Tips

Think about what you are trying to express but don't do it with literal intentions, use symbols, metaphors and descriptions.


Most of all have fun, strong feelings of any kind will enhance your true nature and you will find it easier to express it through your poetry.


Be happy writing poetry, this is your time to expand and write whatever comes into your mind.


Write to the world or write poetry to someone special.


Don't be shy.


Give thanks for life, reward it with a poem.


Submit your poems. Sooner or later you have to send your babies out into the world to find their way. Emily Dickinson was a fluke, most people who don't publish while they're alive will never be seen or heard of -- no matter how good their poems.


Say what you want to say, let the reader decide what it means.


Don't explain EVERYTHING.


Poems that focus on form (Sonnet, Villanelle, etc.) are a challenge. They make you think.


People will remember an image long after they've forgotten why it was there.


If you write a bad poem, at least you wrote.


Develop your voice. Get comfortable with how YOU write poetry.


Don't be afraid to write poetry from a different point of view. Write a poem that says exactly the opposite of what you believe, and do it without irony.


Untitled poems are lazy. They're like unnamed children. Obviously their parent doesn't care about them.


Write in different places. Keep a notebook. Write in a park or on a street-corner or in an alley. You don't HAVE to write about the place, but it will influence you whether you do or not.


Listen to talk radio while you write. Listen to the people who call. Great characters and voices emerge that way.


If you don't like a poem or poet, figure out exactly why. Chances are, it reflects something you don't like about your own poetry.


When nothing is coming, start writing poetry very fast-- any word, phrase or sentence that comes to mind. Do that for about a minute, then go back to your poem. (I call this flushing.) Whether to use anything you flushed is up to you. You can, but that's not the purpose.


The more you read, the more you learn. The more you write poetry, the more you develop.


Make a list of poems you can remember specific lines from. Go back and read those poems. Figure out why they stuck with you.


There are many excuses not to write. Try using writing poetry as an excuse not to do other things.


Keep a dream journal. Dreams are your mind at it's most creative so listen to it. Don't feel you have to write a poem ABOUT your dreams. If you want to, fine, but the main goal is to see what thoughts the dreams lead you to.


Subscribe to poetry journals. Give back to the poetry community by reading (and paying for) the works of others. If you don't, what right have you to expect others to do it for you?


When nothing is coming for you, try analyzing someone else' s poems. (Or even one of yours) Figure out what works, what doesn't work, and why. Think about what you would have done differently.


Use humor, irony, and melodrama, just don't abuse them.


Write the worst poem you can possibly write. Use cliché's, pretentious words, and beat your reader over the head with your point. Felt good, didn't it? Now get back to work. The point is, don't be afraid to write a bad poem. If it takes a hundred bad poems before you can produce a poem you like, fine, get that hundred out of the way.


That one perfect line in a twenty line poem may be what makes it all worthwhile, or it may be what makes the rest of the poem bad. Keep an eye on it.


Every great poet has written a bad poem, probably dozens or hundreds, possibly thousands. They kept writing though, and so should you.


Every line of a poem should be important to the poem, and interesting to read. A poem with only 3 great lines should be 3 lines long.


Poems should progress. There should be a reason why the first stanza comes before the second, the second before the third, and so on.


Listen to criticism, and try to learn from it, but don't live or die by it.


When you write a good poem, one you really like, immediately write another. Maybe that one poem was your peak for the night or maybe you're on a roll. There's only one way to find out.


Follow your fear. Don't back away from subjects that make you uncomfortable, and don't try to keep your personal demons off the page. Even if you never publish the poems they produce, you have to push yourself and write as honestly as possible.


The bigger your point, the more important the details are.