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Revise Your Poetry!

Revise Your Poetry!

The first completed draft of your poem is only the beginning. Poets often go through several drafts of a poem before considering the work “done.”

To revise:

Put your poem away for a few days, and then come back to it. When you re-read it, does anything seem confusing? Hard to follow? Do you see anything that needs improvement that you overlooked the first time?

Often, when you are in the act of writing, you may leave out important details because you are so familiar with the topic. Re-reading a poem helps you to see it from the “outsider’s perspective” of a reader.

Show your poem to others and ask for criticism. Don’t be content with a response like, “That’s a nice poem.” You won’t learn anything from that kind of response. Instead, find people who will tell you specific things you need to improve in your poem.

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greenHow is originality fostered?

1. By personal difficulties, particularly in childhood, that have been worked through. Analyse and meet these difficulties.

2. By unswerving self-honesty. Ask yourself: is this what you really hoped to write? Could you not dig deeper into the wellsprings of the poem?

3. By starting afresh, expanding your repertoire with new techniques and new themes.

4. By pacing yourselves, drawing up timetables of writing that extend and build on previous accomplishments.

5. By working in related fields: writing novels, short-stories, articles: particularly where these unlock new perspectives and energies.

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j0439466[1]Vocabularies not only reflect interests and fashions, but must be broadly effective in a contemporary setting.

1. That is the argument against poeticisms and out-of date words like thee, ’tis, maiden.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.

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Revise, Revise, Revise

10tips321The first draft of your poem is only the beginning. Learning to draft something as your poem, and then putting it away for a while will often give you a fresh perspective of the poem. The majority of our popular poets often go through several drafts before considering the work “done.”

To revise:

Put your poem away for a few days, and then come back to it. When you re-read it, does anything seem confusing? Hard to follow? Do you see anything that needs improvement that you overlooked the first time?

Often, when you are in the act of writing, you may leave out important details because you are so familiar with the topic. Re-reading a poem helps you to see it from the “outsider’s perspective” of a reader.

Show your poem to others and ask for criticism. Don’t be content with a response like, “That’s a nice poem.” You won’t learn anything from that kind of response. Instead, find people who will tell you specific things you need to improve in your poem.

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words

It’s Poetry, Not Prose

Don’t just put prose into “poetic” lines. If you can write it out in paragraph form, and it says exactly the same thing, it’s not poetry. Don’t just deliver a message matter-of-factly, as if you were delivering a laundry list or a summons. It may communicate something, but only at face value.

(Example:)

I loved you so much
and you left me crying
how could you do it
after that night in the park
when I gave you what you wanted.

(Sounds like a suicide note. Perfectly functional as one– but it’s NOT poetry.)

(How about:)

These tears say nothing
but reflect
the winter’s lamplight at this bench
where I search
for the me I gave you.

(The latter says some of the same things, without hitting the reader over the head with them. Let the reader search his OWN experience to connect with you– don’t give THEM yours. They don’t need that, or want that. They need a new look at THEIRS.)

(By saying less, and IMPLYING more, you reach the reader emotionally. You connect. Remember– don’t tell it– SHOW it.)

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by Al Rocheleau

OFF-RHYMES ( BELT/DELVE, FROND/LAND) ARE LESS OBVIOUS THAN EXACT RHYMES.
You can rhyme the vowel sound, but end with a sightly different sound (the former), or have a different vowel sound, and have your end-sound be identical (the latter).
Here you stay (Exact rhymes only):
in my way
I can’t think
sleep a wink
you’re a bum
I’m so dumb.
How about:
Here you stay (A mix of exact and off-rhymes):
in my wake stay, wake (off-rhyme)
bobbing blue, you blue, you, truth ( exact and off-rhyme)
deny the truth deny, my (exact rhyme)
the signal lost, lost, Cross (off-rhyme)
my tiller fixed
on the Southern Cross.

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by Al Rocheleau

SINGLE SYLLABLE RHYMES (RAIN/SPAIN) ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN MULTI-SYLLABLE RHYMES (SPINNING/WINNING).

It has to do with the direct nature of a single, forced syllable on the ear. As soon as you go to two-syllable rhymes, a softening occurs. “Sweet” poems tend to have a lot of multi-syllabic end-rhymes.

So do comedic poems, like limericks. This doesn’t mean you CAN’T use them, but understand their effect, and your own purpose in employing them, because they are like pink packets of saccharine in your coffee. Unless your intent is to be sweet, or funny, use single syllable rhymes more often than not.
The once was Drover from Dover whose sheep disappeared in the clover.

(Big clover. Giant shamrocks. Good luck with this poem.)

(How about:)

Do not go gentle into that good night rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas

(put ” ,sir ” at the end of each line, see what it does.)

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