Advice on: Poetry

Poetry is not my strongest suit. It is very different to prose, and yet similar at the same time. I won’t pretend that I know everything, or indeed anything, about it, but I will say that I have picked up some tips over the years.

1) Appearance can be as important as words

In poetry, particularly shorter forms, the poem generally takes on a specific structure. This structure, whether neatly define into stanzas or words dotted all over the place, says a lot about the poem and can even add the poem’s overall message. The appearance of a poem can draw a reader in or turn one away, so don’t skimp on making the poem look as good as it sounds.

2) If you have an idea, stick to it

A lot of poems focus on a specific theme. If this suddenly changes half-way through, it can be jarring for the reader. Development is good, but writing a satirical poem about politics which changes into a serious rant about pop culture is confusing. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done with a clever hand, but it can also turn out terribly.

3)  Ambiguity can lead to interesting debate

Often, poetry is left open to interpretation. The writer may have a specific message in mind, but writes it in a subtle manner that gives the reader a chance to think and form their own idea of what the writer is trying to express. This is good for discussion and reaching a wider range of people but, a word of warning, too much ambiguity can be just that – too much.

4)  Poetry is fun, so relax and enjoy the ride.

Don’t try to be too clever, it can suck the fun out of writing and can turn the reader off. Don’t be too hard on yourself, your poem doesn’t have to be the next Wordsworth, it just has to be you. Poems that reflect the writer are often the more powerful and more entertaining to read. Forcing a message, for example, can make for a dry, unemotional experience. So just enjoy what you are doing and let the words flow.

Those are some poetry tips for you, although I am sure they can be used for other poetry ventures as well. They have helped me, so hopefully they will help you. If you disagree or have any other tips or advice, I would love to hear it.


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