Writing poetry - a poet's checklist

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[edit] Subject of poem

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+ Is there an attractive or ingenious unifying conceit?
+ 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?

[edit] Structure

+ 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?

[edit] Genre

+ 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?

[edit] 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?

[edit] Devices

+ 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?

[edit] Sins

– 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?

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