Writing Poetry

Poems Please Me

“The best poem is the poem you write yourself”

Writing Poetry – a poet’s checklist. Scroll down to our own daunting list of helpful questions

Poet’s Friend – view details of our own online advisory service at Poet’s Friend

The Poetry Foundation in the USA offers very many in-depth articles, for teachers and students. Poetry Foundation

The Open University Four half-hour audio programmes+transcripts part of Writing Poetry course A175. iTunes required.

Wikipedia has a weath of detailed poetry definitions, terms, etc. View our guide at Wikipedia Wealth

What poetry offers and writing prompts. Thoughtful opinion column by Elizabeth Austen, Washington state’s poet laureate for 2014-16. Includes links to a series of short video writing programmes – ‘poetry prompts’. The Seattle Times. – May 2015

Videos, interviews, writing and performing tips, on old BBC poetry website

The sound of words.  Article about study into commonality of sounds in words of same or associated meanings across different languages. Washington Post – Sept 2016

Writing Poetry – a poet’s checklist
“Read my poetry to learn a little more about me than I know myself” – Tony French

Subject of poem
+ Is there an attractive or ingenious unifying idea/conceit?
+ is there a story – a narrative/a chain of reasoning – which poses a question, explores, and reaches or suggests a conclusion?
+ Is there a universal truth – whether a small issue applicable to many, or a grander concept?
+ Is there originality?
+ Is the poem readily accessible?
+ Is the poem believable – does it work at its particular level?
+ Does the poem work at different levels?
+ Is a theme developed?
+ Is imagery consistent, developed and well used?
+ Does the poem explore boundaries?
+ Is the poem emotionally effective?
+ Is the poem intellectually effective?
+ Does the conclusion satisfy the reader – whatever the form i.e. question, summary etc?
+ Would you feel the need to share this poem, or the thoughts it provokes?

+ Is the title supportive – and an intrinsic part of the work?
+ Is there a recognised or interesting original pattern or shape on the page?
+ If in an established format (sonnet etc) is that appropriate – and well executed?
+ Is the first line inviting?
+ Are stanzas used? Are they sympathetic and helpful to the meaning?
+ Do the line-breaks enhance the work, or do some appear arbitrary?
+ Thinking of music, and depending on length etc, is the pace varied and/or interesting?
+ As a reader, are there lines you’ll remember, or would like to learn by heart?

+ Is the poem true to a genre – or does it interestingly break new ground and/or surprise us?
+ The point of view is usually the poet’s own, but if not, is this clear and well executed?
+ Is there a distinct tone (emotive, didactic, fun, etc), which avoids mere self-indulgence?

Rhythm & metre
+ Is the rhythm, which is essential to poetry, pleasing? Does it support the meaning?
+ Is the metre, which helps create the rhythm, consistent – yet with interesting variations?
+ Are the rhythm and metre combined, supportive of the subject – and not dominant?

+ Is any metaphor (perhaps sustained) clear, not self-indulgent, and not strained?
+ Is any simile sufficiently fresh (not overused)- and does it really add to our understanding and pleasure?
+ Is any rhyme which is used helpful?
+ Is there subtle use of rhyme?
+ Is any alliteration/assonance/consonance/onomatopoeia helpful?
+ Is any literary allusion/echo helpful?
+ Is there humour? Or any lighter touch?
+ Is there use of paradox?
+ Is there satire?
+ Are any repetitions helpful?

– Is there marked lack of essential metre?
– Is there tired imagery?
– Are there clumsy similes or metaphors?
– Are there clumsily ordered words?
– Is there inappropriate archaic/’poetic’ language
– Do obscure references hinder accessibility?
– Does the poem lack depth – if it pretends to such…?
– Worse still, is the poet guilty of bathos?

TRIAL LINK (Jan 2017) – an excellent blog to follow – invites participation and restricted (by numbers) membership

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads