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Writing Poetry


Discuss ways to improve your poetry. Post your techniques, tips, and creative ideas about how to write better.
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Henry Phillips Male, 30, United Kingdom (1/18/2006 11:01:00 AM)

I'm afraid to say that most of the poetry posted on this site is laughably trite and horribly cliched. The way to improve is simple:
1) Do not write about your 'feelings' - they are neither remarkable or interesting and end up producing self-pitying or boring verse.
2) Read more poetry. It seems that, despite claims to the contrary, very few of you 'poets' actually read poetry. If you did you would learn that your impressions and images are quotidien. Heed Hazlitt's advice - 'whenever you write a line you think is exceedingly fine, strike it out'.
3) Why do so many of you equate poetry with sincerity? Keep a diary if you wish to write about your self.
4) If you write in free-verse do it for a reason. Form is content (so said Joyce) - free verse was initially adopted by men like Hardy and eliot to reflect the 'ache of modernity'. It was used to express a sense of alienation from the notion of pattern in the universe. Free-verse should not be the 'easy option'.
5) If you chose to write in verse please at least make sure that it scans. This is not a difficult task - if a line sounds odd its probably because the rhythms are out. Spend more time working on anomalous-sounding lines.

I hate to go against the trend of self-aggrandising praise but if you want to write poetry as opposed to doggeral you must desist from a simplistic out-pouring of emotion.

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  • Mike Finley (3/5/2006 6:55:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    I would add that poets must remember that sensible people hate poetry. It is usually indirect, melodramatic, and egotistical. Who needs that from someone who has demonstrated any other talents, and is not GIVIGN the reader something of obvious value?

    Therefore, we have two choices:

    * Form communities of cannibals, where other people with similar values will read our work (and compliment us) if we read theirs.

    or...

    * Write things that other people WOULD like, if they could somehow overcome 200 years of foaming hatred. Chances are they won't, but your work will be better anyway.

    Replies for this message:
    • Mike Finley (3/5/2006 9:42:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      My poor addled typing... I should have said 'SOMEONE WHO HAS _NOT_ DEMONSTRATED ANY OTHER TALENTS' Point being: Whence comes a poet's expertise?

  • JM Howard (2/25/2006 12:06:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    lol Amen to all of this! You stole the words right out of my mouth Henry; but honestly, I think you said it better.

    I think the problem here is two different outlooks on poetry. There's the 'I just wanna express myself. Did I mention that God hates me? ' way of looking at it, in which there really are no rules, 'if the poet likes it...', yada yada. Then there's the outlook in which people want to improve, possibly to the point of pulication... which involves thoroughly following the rules Henry mentioned and many, many more :)

    The great part about this sight is that the two styles butt heads... let the games begin!

  • john tiong chunghoo (2/7/2006 8:15:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    to me poetry should come from real experiences and it should flow naturally from the heart. of course, one should always make sure that what one offers is not cliche. it is pointless saying i love you, i love you all over the place. the good thing about poetry is that it offers you the diversity to express your feelings in a million ways. so why keep to one. instead of i love you why not your existence brings meaning to mine.

  • Dan Brown (1/25/2006 5:43:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    An immensely sceptic view Henry. And all I intended to say has already been said. But I'll back it up anyway.

    Writing poetry is a form of expression, whether it be good, bad, funny or sad, it is about a person putting thoughts, views, fears and ideas into words. I can't see how there is anything wrong with that. As long as that person enjoys doing so, and is pleased with the outcome, that's all that matters.

    You've made writing poetry sound so formal, strict and structured. It isn't. In poetry, there are very few rules, and those there are, you make yourself.

    As for 'writing about yourself'. A poem IS a diary. Its just easier on the eye and the tongue. Speaking from a personal perspective, I used to write to vent my feelings. There was no-one there to talk to, so I wrote it down. It helped me, as I'm sure it helps many, and until you've been and experienced it, I think your comments are unjust.

    And while the out-pouring of emotion may be simplistic as content, what about the way it is expressed? The way it is structured, worded and read? Because I Know I'VE never found simplicity in that.

    Dan x

  • James (aka Eustace) Bradley (1/23/2006 7:16:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    In your opinion this may be 'laughably trite'.
    However, I enjoy reading the poems of real people with real feelings. Just because it isn't published doesn't mean it isn't poetry. And how can you possibly write a good poem by following rules? Poetry is about freedom and creativity, not following guidelines. Poetry cannot be taught.

    If you don't like the poetry, don't visit the site, but don't preach pretentious ways to write.

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    • Henry Phillips (1/27/2006 10:38:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      'poetry can not be taught' - wha.....? 'pretentious' = 'critical'? 'freedom' = 'whim'. Ever read anythin pre-1900 or any of the classical authors? All about the TENSION between formal rules and their ... more

  • .............. ......................... (1/22/2006 6:25:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    Henry, Much of what you say may be correct. However, my guess is that for the vast majority it doesn't really matter. I include myself. The objective is to have fun expressing oneself in words and sharing the result, however modest, with others. Of course we would all like to be better poets than we are but some of us are just not able.
    I see no examples of your own works or any positive criticism of anyone elses for that matter. We await your pleasure with anticipation. Ron

  • Sinnaminsun Sinnaminsun (1/22/2006 3:46:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    Hello Henry, I went to your site and noticed you didn't have any poems posted...maybe I overlooked something? ? ? Anyway, if you do write poetry it would be nice to see your particular style. I love rhyme and emotions, and my poetry in my opinion tends to be rather simple (for lack of a better word) , and I've found that's just how I write in my natural state. I do think poets need to be open to learn, read poetry, expand in form and style, etc. in order to grow, if he/she chooses to. I think all of us were born with an certain way we naturally approach poetry, in regards to the writing process. I know I will always write emotional poetry, cause that's just me, and lol, I may be the only one who reads it at times, and that's ok, if I'm happy with it :) Kim

  • Tallie Kane (1/18/2006 4:37:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    I agree. I'm aiming to finish reading the poets i have compiled a list of, and your advice is valuable, it's given me a better perspective on writing, and I'll definately have it in mind when I write my next. Thanks :)

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