Sunday, 31 January 2010

What’s the big deal about verbs anyway?

I cannot stress enough how important verbs are in a poem. Here’s an example of excellent verb use in a well-known poem:

from Ariel

Black sweet blood mouthfuls, Shadows. Something else  Hauls me through air—— Thighs, hair; Flakes from my heels.  White Godiva, I unpeel—— Dead hands, dead stringencies.  And now I Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas. The child’s cry  Melts in the wall. And I Am the arrow,  The dew that flies, Suicidal, at one with the drive Into the red  Eye, the cauldron of morning.   Sylvia Plath 

This poem uses verbs very effectively. “Something else / hauls me through air.” “Thighs, hair; / Flakes from my heels.” “I unpeel” “I /Foam to wheat.” “The child’s cry / Melts in the wall.” [my emphasis]

The resulting effect of using active verbs in a poem is that your reader will be able to experience the action of the poem in their head, rather than just hear about it. So many poor poems are reported. “This happened. That happened. Something else is happening.”

The reason using “being verbs,” adverbs, and adjectives to depict the images in your poetry is ineffective is that it unnecessarily removes the reader from the experience of the poem. When a poem is reportedrather than enacted the poet serves as an intermediary between the poem and the reader.

Think about it this way: would you rather look at a beautiful sunset or have someone describe one to you?

This will be covered in greater detail in an upcoming installment (this phrase is becoming a mantra of this series).

For the remainder of this article we’re going to assume you’ve completed a poem and want to make a first-pass at improving it.

Jough Dempsey is a poet & critic and the webmaster of Poetry X

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Do's and Don'ts from Ezra Pound

- Poetry should be written at least as well as prose.

- Language is an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought.

- Go in fear of abstraction

- Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.

- Don't use such an expression as 'dim lands of peace'. It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realising that the natural object is always the adequate symbol.

- A narrative is all right as long as the narrator sticks to words as simple as dog, horse, sunset.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

How to Write a Poem

originated by:Lucy Lake, Nathan Wong, Travis Derouin, Tom Viren

Writing a poem is all about observing the world within you or around you. You can write about anything from love to the rusty gate at the old farm. As long as you are enjoying it or finding it releases something from inside you, you're on the right track.


  1. 1
    Read and listen to poetry. Whether someone who has never seen a sonnet nor heard haiku can truly be a poet is an open question. It is almost certain, though, that any poet who has been published or who has garnered any following enhanced their skills by reading or listening to good poetry, even if they later scoffed at conventional notions of what was "good." "Good" poems fall into three categories: those that are recognized as classics, those that seem to be popular, and those that you personally like. Poems typically being short, there is no reason not to explore plenty of both.

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  2. 2
    Original manuscript of Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith."  The revisions on the page give us an idea of how the poem evolved.
    Original manuscript of Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith." The revisions on the page give us an idea of how the poem evolved.
    Find a spark. A poem may be born as a snippet of verse, maybe just a line or two that seems to come out of nowhere. That's what's usually called inspiration, and once you have that beginning you simply need to flesh it out, to build the rest of the poem around it.

    At other times you may want to write about a specific thing or idea. If this is the case, do a little planning. Write down all the words and phrases that come to mind when you think of that idea. Allow yourself to put all your ideas into words.

    It may sound difficult, but do not be afraid to voice your exact feelings. Emotions are what make poems, and if you lie about your emotions it can be easily sensed in the poem. Write them down as quickly as possible, and when you're done, go through the list and look for connections or certain items that get your creative juices flowing.
  3. 3
    Think about what you want to achieve with your poem. Perhaps you want to write a poem to express your love for your boyfriend or girlfriend; perhaps you want to commemorate a tragic event; or maybe you just want to get an "A" in your poetry class. Think about why you are writing your poem and who your intended audience is, and then proceed in your writing accordingly.
  4. 4
    Decide what poetry style suits your subject. There are a great many different poetic styles. [1]. If you see "Winter icicles / plummeting like Enron stock..." perhaps you've got a haiku in your head. As a poet, you have a wide variety of set forms to choose from: limericks, sonnets,villanelles ... the list goes on and on. You may also choose to abandon form altogether and write your poem in free verse. While the choice may not always be as obvious as the example above, the best form for the poem will usually manifest itself during your writing.
  5. 5
    Try to fit into a particular scene you want to write about. For example, if you want to write about nature, try to visit a park or a small forest nearby. The natural scenery will make you write a few lines, though they may not be perfect.
  6. 6
    Listen to your poem. While many people today have been exposed to poetry only in written form, poetry was predominantly an aural art for thousands of years, and the sound of a poem is still important. As you write and edit your poem, read it aloud and listen to how it sounds.
    1. This is where poems can become songs. It is easier to find a tune for regular meter, so maybe you want to cut words out or put some in to get the same number of syllables in each line. Memorize it. If you believe it, then maybe someone else will learn it and love it before it is a song.
  7. 7
    Write down your thoughts as they come to you. Don't edit as you write, or do edit as you write - the choice is yours. However, you should try both methods at least a couple times to see what works best for you.
  8. 8
    Choose the right words. It's been said that if a novel is "words in the best order," then a poem is "the best words in the best order." Think of the words you use as building blocks of different sizes and shapes. Some words will fit together perfectly, and some won't. You want to keep working at your poem until you have built a strong structure of words. Use only those words that are necessary, those that enhance the meaning of the poem. Choose your words carefully. The differences between similar sounding words or synonyms can lead to interesting word play.
  9. 9
    Use concrete imagery and vivid descriptions.

    • Love, hate, happiness: these are all abstract concepts. Many, maybe all, poems are, deep down, about emotions and other abstractions, but it's hard to build a strong poem using only abstractions - it's just not interesting. The key, then, is to replace or enhance abstractions with concrete images, things that you can appreciate with your senses: a rose, a shark, or a crackling fire, for example. The concept of the objective correlative may be useful. An objective correlative is an object, several objects, or a series of events (all concrete things) that evoke the emotion or idea of the poem.
    • Really powerful poetry not only uses concrete images; it also describes them vividly. Show your readers and listeners what you're talking about--help them to experience the imagery of the poem. Put in some "sensory" handles. These are words that describe the things that you hear, see, taste, touch, and smell, so that the reader can identify with their own experience. Give some examples rather than purely mental/intellectual descriptions. For example: "He made a loud sound" versus "He made a loud sound like a hippo eating 100 stale pecan pies with metal teeth".
  10. 10
    Use poetic devices to enhance your poem's beauty and meaning. The most well known poetic device is rhyme. Rhyme can add suspense to your lines, enhance your meaning, or make the poem more cohesive. It can also make it prettier. Don't overuse rhyme. It's a crime. In fact you don't have to use rhyme at all. Other poetic devices include meter, metaphor, assonance, alliteration, and repetition. If you don't know what these are, you may want to look in a poetry book or search the internet. Poetic devices can make a poem or, if they bring too much attention to themselves, they can ruin it.
  11. 11
    Save your most powerful message or insight for the end of your poem. The last line is to a poem what a punch line is to a joke--something that evokes an emotional response. Give the reader something to think about, something to dwell on after reading your poem. Resist the urge to explain it; let the reader become engaged with the poem in developing an understanding of your experience or message.
  12. 12
    Edit your poem. When the basic poem is written, set it aside for awhile and then read the poem out loud to yourself. Go through it and balance the choice of words with the rhythm. Take out unnecessary words and replace imagery that isn't working. Some people edit a poem all at once, while others come back to it again and again over time. Don't be afraid to rewrite if some part of the poem is not working. Sometimes you just can't fix something that essentially doesn't work.
  13. 13
    Get opinions. It can be hard to critique your own work, so after you've done an initial edit, try to get some friends or a poetry group (there are plenty online) to look at your poem for you. You may not like all their suggestions, and you don't have to take any of them, but you might find some insight that will make your poem better. Feedback is good. Pass your poem around, and ask your friends to critique your work. Tell them to be honest, even if it's painful. Filter their responses or ignore them altogether and edit as you see fit.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Poetry in a Nutshell

Poetry is more than just rhyming and prose that is in meters and verse. It is an art form. It is something that can not be judged by its cover and can not be critisized to the point where it just "sucks." Poetry is about expression. Poetry expresses the way we feel on a certain subject through imagery and other senses. It helps us deal with our daily problems, be it good or bad.

The emotion which is put within the poem brings it life. A poem without emotion is not a poem at all but simply prose. Poetry is what makes us feel happy or sad, mad or gleeful, loving or broken hearted. Poetry is life on paper. It does not need to be of a certain subject or even rhyme.

Poetry is poetry. It has its own mind. If it flows good if not... it needs work. The rules can be bent but not broken. Our life is our life and no one can tell us what we have been through but ourselves. We know best not some stranger reading our poems. Our poetry is our life, not what someone says.

Rhyming in poetry is not always the best way to express yourself. Rhyming actually takes away many words that could have been used. If you try to rhyme it cuts your dictionary into little pieces. It doesn't need to be this way, choose flow over rhyme.

As a result of this, poetry is defined as a way of putting flowing words together in meter and verse to show emotion or tell a story.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Art of Poetry Writing

Poetry can be described in so many ways, but one general concept people have about poetry is, it stems from an emotion, an inspiration, or from a particular event in the poets life. Poetry is an art form that uses metaphors to express a certain thought or story.

While telling the tale as it is can be easier understood, poetry is not into expressing one definite meaning, but rather into making the reader think and determine for themselves what the writer may be trying to put forth. The artistic use of words to represent something is else is common in a lot of poetry writing styles and is viewed as the norm by most poetry writers. Poetry, however, is basically indefinable and this may be due to the multiple writing styles available to the art.

People who write poetry for the first time usually write from the top of their heads. This means, once inspiration hits them, they write down whatever they felt during that inspired moment in the simplest possible words that they could use. While this does not make for good poetry writing, this could be very well the base for a good poem.

Like all books and other reading material, poetry can only improve with rereading and some rewriting. Some of your emotions from that inspired moment may have been expressed accurately enough for you, however, to help it transcend into art, some careful scrutiny and deliberation may be needed to further complete your work of art.

While certain words may be accurate enough for the writer in terms of expressing the emotion they are trying to convey, this, however, does not ensure that the poem is good.

Here is where metaphors come into play. You can use certain comparisons to how you feel by pairing them off with things and happenings around you. For example, if you are feeling sad, you do not just write in your poem that you are feeling sad or there is sadness in you.

Try to find a phrase that can encompass what you feel without being too direct so as to leave the rest of the thinking to the imagination of your reader. A good comparison to the word sad would be dark or darkness. Another possible word you can use would be deep or depth.

These two word choices may not be totally negative or describe the word sad if taken all by itself, but combined with a few other words, you can artistically portray the feeling of sadness in your poem.

Not all poems are expressions of sadness and negativity, however, despite there being quite a number of them being created and having been created. This is not surprising since sorrow is a very strong emotion and writing can be quite an outlet for this feeling. Anger, as well, has found an outlet in putting pen to paper, along with confusion and even hate. More positive feelings are also common fodder for the poet, with the astounding number of love poetry that is available making this apparent. Other stronger emotions often used for poetry include happiness, and, well, the other predecessors and by-products of happiness.

Whatever the inspiration a person has for writing a poem or poems, poetry is indeed a literary art form that is, as indefinable as it is, something that a lot of us can do well, with a lot of feeling and some practice.

One of the rather useful tools to better yourself at poetry writing is your basic thesaurus. It offers you quite a few choices in terms of word selection to further express what you feel in your writing.

Autor: pitorian

Monday, 11 January 2010

Rhyme and Meter in Poetry

Meter in poetry is basically the rhythmic structure of a verse. There are recurring patterns of stressed (assented, or long) and unstressed (unaccented or short) syllables. There are six basic types of meter in poetry most commonly used. They are the following: Iambic, Trochaic, Anapestic, Dactylic, Spondee, and Pyrrhic.

Iambic Meter:

The foot of the verse starts with an unaccented and ends with an accented stressed syllable.

Trochaic Meter:

It is the opposite of Iambic meter form in that it begins with an accented stressed then follows with an unaccented syllable.

Anapestic Meter:

The foot of the verse has two unaccented syllable and then followed by one accented syllables.


The foot of the verse has one accented syllable which is followed by two unaccented syllables.

Spondee Meter:

The foot of the poem includes two accented stressed syllables.

Pyrrhic Meter:

A foot of a poem includes two unaccented syllables to help vary the use of rhythm.

Rhyme in Poetry

The basic meaning of rhyme is two words that sound alike. Rhyming in poetry is the most recognized and conventional tool in poetry. Rhyme helps fuse a poem. Today, conventional poetry aren’t as strictly determined as they were during the English Renaissance or in 18th century literature. Rhyme can help indicate a poetic theme and help to structure a subject that would otherwise seem disorganized. Meter plays a large role in this with rhyme.

There is internal rhyme within a line of poetry and then the more commonly known form is end rhyme which occurs at the end of the line and at the end of another line within the stanza of the poem.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Adjectives are overrated

Using adjectives can be impressive because it shows off the writer's vocabulary, but that's about it. The creativity lies hidden, and vocabulary is just something you can learn... creativity is lived and found within you. Creativity is what makes something artistic; it makes the poet a poet. But obviously, the logic and form shouldn't be set aside.

The writer who uses too many adjectives is a lazy and mediocre writer. In the sole reason that instead of them creating the image they wanted to present, the reader does it for himself or herself.

I suggest (but no one is obligated to follow) the further use of metaphors. Adjectives won't get you nearly as far as metaphors.

Please consider the following comparisons.

When a person in love with adjectives writes about silence, these lines may appear:

"Your vast absence of words has ultimately reached the concluding edge of forever"
- pretty good line. The person is stating that the huge quantity of silence the person has given him is about to reach the end of forever.

But Jeffrey McDaniel has a different kind of approach towards silence.

"I've been ignored by prettier women than you,
but none who carried the heavy pitchers of silence
so far, without spilling a drop."
- He used more words but he used them inevitably. And the image he created behind the metaphor was intense.

Nouns also make good substitutes for adjectives. How would you describe our kind being harmful to nature and the environment?

"selfish beings burning nature's heart... blah blah"

But if you think hard enough for a noun that could describe your thought, it wouldn't be so hard.

"Plastic species roam the land,
to rot and spread the virus."

Plastic (noun) is a material that is harmful to the environment and used without abandon by humans. It also rots and may cause cancer once burnt.

There are a lot of ways you can spice up your writing with the lesser use of adjectives and a creative use of its substitutes.

"I remember how your eyes harassed me"
- any reader can fill up the emotion in this line. But if you deliver it differently, it can be more specific:

"I remember your eyes: fifty attack dogs on a single leash"
- feel the tension?

The test here is that if we want to broaden the intensity and affectivity of our writings, we must set aside the use of words to describe a feeling, set aside the use of verbs to announce an action, and just let our metaphors, similes, etc... saturate our work with imagination and stimulation.

It's a good exercise. Try it. :)

by The Tasteless

Inspiring the Poet in You

by: Anusuya Veth


Poems. Just the mention of them makes me smile. Why? Simple. I delight in writing and reading poetry.

Some tend to think that to be a poet is not easy and that it must be those deep thinkers who can write poems.

Actually all of us can be poets if we have creativity. After all poems are creations of our minds and our experiences.

If you are still clueless and you think that you can never write a single poem, below are some inspiring tips to awake the poet in you:

1. Read

Read other poets work and observe how they write. You don't have to read heavy stuff as there are also writers who write simple and easy-to-understand poems. Start with simple ones to get into the flow of poetry.

2. Poetry Class

Is there any poetry writing classes in your university or any other institutions? It will be a good idea to join the class and learn about the basics of writing poetry as most beginners start this way.

3. Talk with Poets

Is there anybody whom you know is a poet? Speak to them and ask them how did they start writing poems. They will be glad to share with you their experiences. By doing this you will be getting valuable information from an expert and you can learn from their experiences.

4. Write

If you don't try you will never know so the next best thing to do is to pen a poem yourself. It could be long or short but start working on the poems. You could also keep a journal for your poems.

5. Contests

There are many poetry contests both in magazines & in portals. Take part and submit your poems. Once again this step is to encourage and motivate yourself to write poems.

6. Get Feedback

After writing the poems get a friend or better still a poet to give you feedback on your work. Ask them if they like it and if they don't ask them why. By doing this you will be able to know how well your poems are able to communicate with others.

Like I said writing poems is a form of communication. It all depends on the writer and his or her emotions and thoughts. But one key thing which pushes all us poets is the passion for writing them. So get creative and start penning those hidden poems!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Poetry Tips

Poetry is one of the most unique and expressive forms of writing. Unlike most writing, poets aren’t bound by a plethora of restrictions. Poetry can be about anything and anyone can write it. With a little practice, you can be proud of your poetry so grab that pencil and paper and follow my tips.

  1. First you’ve got to come up with an idea. If you want your poem to be meaningful, its helpful to know where you’re going with it beforehand. All inspiration is created equal when it comes to poetry, so anything that moves you, whether it’s the look of a pile of rustyautomotive parts or an abstract emotion, it’s worthy of a poem.
  2. Next start brainstorming your ideas. Just start writing unconsciously without inhibition if you can. Your feelings and thoughts will just flow out and hopefully you’ll find something you deem worthwhile.
  3. Once you’ve brainstormed ideas, its time to start organizing your thoughts. You can stick to traditional forms of poetry or you can write in free verse. If you aren’t sure which style is right for you, try out several different ones. Eventually one will stick out as the most natural to you.
  4. When organizing your poem, make sure to take both meter and rhythm into account. Meter is the pattern in your poem and rhythm is how your poem should sound when it’s spoken. Both are incredibly important and should be taken into consideration when writing your poem.
  5. Use imagery in your poem. This will appeal to the reader’s senses and it will give your poem more depth. You should also try to use symbolism and metaphor in your poem. This will make for a more interesting poem.
  6. Let others read and critique your poetry. This may be scary at first, but allow for some constructive criticism. It will make your work stronger and you will grow as a poet.

Free or Formal

Poems can be constructed in either free verse or formal verse. Most poets today write free versewhich is open to pattern and is recognized as nonconforming and rhyme less verse. Metrical verse relies on stanza length combined with meter or rhyme patterns distinct to itself. There are several traditional commonly-known forms of poetry.

Haiku, a form of Japanese descent, consists of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively, and traditionally deals with nature subjects.

A sonnet, whether of English or Italian rhyming scheme, is a single- or two-stanza lyric poem containing fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare's love sonnets are well-known.

Most journals of literary note do not embrace traditional rhyme and form poetry, preferring the more commonly used free verse which is not bound by any rules of meter and rhyme. Unless you're the Earl of Rochester or Alexander Pope, it would be best to stick with the unconventional verse. Here are some traditional types ofpoetry and free forms:

Sestina - The sestina is a six 6-line stanzas followed by a 3-line stanza. There is a predetermined pattern in that the same six words are repeated at the end of lines throughout the poem. The last word in the last line of one stanza becomes the last word of the first line in the next stanza. Then rounding it off with the final 3-line stanza, all six end words appear. You may want to read some of Sylvia Plath's sestinas to familiarize yourself with this form.

Two forms that are closely related to each other are the villanelle and the pantoum. The villanelle, a nineteen-line poem, is made up of five 3-line stanzas and one 4-line stanza (or quatrain) at the end of the poem. Alternating between the ends of each tercet (3-line stanza) there are two refrains that eventually end up forming the last two lines of the quatrain. Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is an example of a villanelle. The pantoum is comprised totally of quatrains. In each stanza the second and fourth lines are repeated in the first and third lines of the following stanza, until the final stanza where the first line is the poem's first and the second line is the poem's third line. "Evening Harmony" by Charles Baudelaire is an example of a pantoum.

Free verse does come in various forms, the most common being driven by cadence in which common language rhythm is substituted for regular metrical pattern, which can be seen in the works of Walt Whitman and the King James Bible versionof The Psalms and The Song of Solomon.

A second type of free verse is free iambic verse which was used by such poets as T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden.

A third form is the free verse proper, the most used form, where the inconsistency is at the center of the poem. There is no set metrical rhyme or patterns of meter and rhythm. Unlike traditional verse, free form is not constrained by the rules regulating syllables in stanzas.

There is often confusion as to what is meant by visual poetry. If you have written a very descriptive poem about a whale, it may be a wonderful free verse poem, but not visual. If you have written the same poem and the presentation of the piece is in the shape of a whale, you have written a visual poem.

If you'd like further information about poetry terms, take a look at John Drury's "The Poetry Dictionary." It defines key terms that should be in the vocabulary of every poet. Above all, keep writing! Poetry provides a wonderful outlet for observation, exploration, and healing.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Haiku writing

Haiku is a type of short poem, which originated in Japan during the 17th century. What set it apart from other types of poetry was that it began as kind of game among the merchants and lower class citizens. True to its origins, Haiku developed characteristics that are quite different from the elegant court and love poetry of its times. It is spontaneous, crisp, and used images that were quite ordinary.

The aim of Haiku as with any other type of poetry is to express as much as possible in as little words as possible. But in Haiku this primary rule is followed to the extreme. Usually, a haiku is just three lines long, with 17 syllables. For brevity sake, articles, pronouns and other grammar words are often removed from a haiku.

So how do you write a Haiku? The key to Haiku is to catch the fleeting idea. The best Haiku comes to our mind quite unexpectedly. It might be a trivial incident. An image from nature will be sufficient. The cat arching its body after a sleep, a dog wagging its tail, an ant talking with another ant, a butterfly fixed to a flower, etc, will be enough. Usually, a season word like rain summer, wind or anything that relate to climate and weather is ideal for a Haiku.

See that the image is concrete and they do not directly allude to abstract concepts like afterlife, final judgment etc. A good rule of thumb is to see if someone can enjoy your Haiku without having an insight into your philosophy. Another important thing to remember is that your poem should contain only one or two images. Too many images can confuse the reader. But the real fun in a haiku is to conceal such cosmological truths in simple looking verses that talks about trivial things. Matsuo Basho, a seventeenth century Japanese hermit excelled in this. His most famous poem goes like this:

The old pond—

a frog jumps in,

sound of water.

In the nineteenth century, poets like Ezra Pound and other imagist poets were attracted to Haiku and adapted it to fit the English Language. His famous poem “"In The Station of the Metro” is an example for this:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
petals on a wet, black bough

With the examples given above, you can start writing your own haiku poem. So what are you waiting for?