Posts Tagged ‘Writers Resources’

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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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.


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


Just like rhyme, too much turns the cake into “all frosting.”

Pompeii’s frozen, frantic forms, fill and frame a thousand furrows, forgotten.
(Instead, how about:)
Pompeii’s frozen forms, a thousand, framed in their happenstance, harmed and harmless, wait for nothing wait, and get it.
The f’s are pruned a bit (down to 3 from 6), and slightly broken up, so the effect is not so relentless; also mixed in a group of 3 h’s, giving the reader another twist. But as always, the image, the statement, is more important than the tricks of the language.

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By Al Rocheleau

Use Rhyme Sparingly!¬†Outside of fixed pattern poems, don’t use rhyme all the time, especially as a crutch. Use occasional end rhymes, internal rhymes (even better) or none at all.

I see you now, and all the time beyond my feeling, in my mind I see you though you’re far way Today, tomorrow, every day. (a Hallmark card reject)
(Instead, how about:)
I stretch to you, arms-length on a frozen day, the shadow dance plays havoc in drifts; then the sun goes away.
(Here the rhyme is a little less predictable, hidden, where it can be used for best effect. Rely on the image, not the rhyme. Never force your lines to accommodate a rhyme. NEVER.)

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By Al Rocheleau
AVOID ABSTRACT WORD SYMBOLS”Love,” “life,” “death,” “hate,” “truth,” “spirit,” “soul,” “beauty,” “grief.” SHOW these things; don’t just say them. By themselves, they mean nothing to the reader.


Love dwells within your soul, you see the beauty of life through him.

(Instead, how about:)

There are those who can neither see the filament that glows and drives your chosen saint, however slowly, to his source.
You are not one of those, of course.

(The latter stanzas have something to do with love, devotion, duality, immortality perhaps– but without using “love” “life” and “beauty” to say so.)

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by Al Rocheleau

Don’t write in disjointed fragments. Those who you may think wrote largely in fragments (Williams, Plath, Bukowski) did nothing of the sort. There was a line, a string upon which those words traveled to an inevitable conclusion. Whether fixed form or free verse, the poem must move. You can get a lot of mileage out of the sentence form in a poem.

In 1) The first version has a lot of fragments, not perfectly connected– lots of stops and crooked starts, not necessarily leading to the same ending. The second is essentially ONE sentence. Stanzas are often one sentence, driven from an isolated image or premise, to a definite conclusion. And the way you drive your lines, just as you do an effective sentence is by using action verbs. Make your lines DO something, not BE something.

I am sad. Tears flowing. Sadder than I’ve ever been. Because of you.
(How about instead):
I drive this deaf nail into the wall; penetrate sheetrock and you.
(Ouch! While the language was “indirect,” the effect wasn’t!)

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I found this list on Winning Writers, a reputable and reliable poet’s website:

The main goal of a bad poetry contest appears to be extracting money from poets rather than honoring excellence. Bad contests typically show several of these warning signs. When in doubt, check with your local poetry society.

13 Warning Signs of a Bad Poetry Contest:

1. Unusually large number and size of cash awards (e.g., $58,000/year)
2. Contest sponsor tries hard to sell you products that incorporate your work, like anthologies.
3. Contest is free to enter, but ‘winners’ have to pay a high price for own copy of book.
4. Contest turns up on “Scam Warning” pages when you search for it with Google.
5. Hard to contact sponsor with questions – responses are slow or evasive.
6. Low standards – not choosy about who gets published.
7. Name is close to that of a prestigious contest but for a small difference.
8. Prize is not money or publication, but ‘agency representation’ or something you must pay for.
9. Hard to find the work of past winners to judge their quality for yourself.
10. Small prize relative to reading fee (e.g., $5 fee for a $50 top prize).
11. Advertised in mass market magazines (Parade) and newspapers (Sunday comics) unrelated to poetry.
12. You win a prize – but have to pay to attend a convention to receive it.
13. Only short poems (30 lines or less) are accepted – the better to pack them into an anthology.

So, do your homework before you start looking to become rich and famous!

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