Poetry Rules

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Not really a short story, or even a set of actual "Rules" for that matter, just something I whiped up in about a half hour that I thought might be helpful, hope it is. Comment please.

Submitted: January 21, 2008

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Submitted: January 21, 2008

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Your most important audience member is yourself, I know it sounds tacky and you have undoubtedly heard it repeatedly before but I cannot put enough emphasis on this. Write what you want, with one exception: if you’re getting paid to write what someone else wants. But that is not poetry, it is business. Any oaf with a pen can tell you how he feels, a true poet writes to tell readers how they feel, and to invoke feelings within the readers that may not have even been there before. The title is a very important part of the poem, poets should choose a title that would make sense as a part of the poem while at the same time sums up the poem or even presents an idea not directly addressed in the poem that the author considers important to understanding what is meant. However, the poem in its entirety should never be judged off the title alone, just like it would never be judged by one single line. Know the rules of grammar before bending them to achieve desired affect. Commas are not required, but they are recommended. If there are only a few commas in a poem the reader will only pause at those commas, or give an emphasized pause. The same goes for; periods, question marks, and all other grammatical marks. You don’t have to rhyme, if you find yourself at a loss for rhymes that fit, or worse, if you put in rhymes that feel stressed or don’t make sense in the poem, then concentrate instead on giving it rhythm. Rhyming is not necessary, required, or even suggested. Just make the poem what you want it to be. Albeit, rhythm and cadence help. Length should never be your top concern, whether it be four lines, four pages, or four books long, or anywhere in-between. All that really matters is that it says what you want it to, if it takes three lines to express your feeling on death and a hundred pages to describe a rose petal, than so be it! As long as you describe it to your liking. Use imagery. I mean serious imagery. Make all your; metaphors, similes, hyperboles, and personification full of imagery and detail. You could say “His blood was red as the purest fallen rose” and get your point across just fine, or you could say “His blood was the fire of the purest of fallen roses.” Either way the reader gets that he’s dying or dead, but the latter grips their attention and thusly their emotions.

Imply or be straightforward. Give the readers clues as to what you mean and leave the actual interpretation up to them, or tell them what you mean right out. I’ve found that if you pick one or the other and not both the poem is not only easier to write but it turns out more like what you actually want.

If your poem seems to redundant, and every couple stanzas seems to emit the same feeling, try changing the rhythm, or rhyme scheme of a few stanzas in the middle, make it flow and feel what you want it to, without it being bland and too repetitive. Use a wide vocabulary that doesn’t overpower the reader, we don’t want to be looking up a word every other line, but at the same time use a good amount of expressive and unique words. Now, if you find yourself lacking in inspiration. The best thing to do is simply write about how lacking inspiration makes or feel, or even about the lack of inspiration itself. Never, ever stop writing. Even if you have writers block, even if it’s a just a few lines about how bright the driveway is with the sun reflecting off the thin layer of ice that covers it. Eventual you’ll write something worth keeping, or you may even find new inspiration in something you’ve just jotted down. Try writing from different points of view, literally and figuratively. Write about something you wouldn’t normally write about, or write about something you love to write about, but from someone else’s point of view. Whether you’re lacking inspiration or not, always stretch and expand out of your ‘comfort zone.’ If you’re writing a ‘persuasive poem’ where you’re trying to persuade the reader mention cons to your opinion and then present a solution. If, for some reason, you’re writing about why air hokey is better than fuse ball you could say, hypothetically, “albeit, air hokey pucks are easy to loose, but so are fuse ball balls, but hokey pucks are easier to find, and leave smaller marks in the walls.” Crappy example I know, but I don’t tend to care if you agree with me. Never admit you don’t care, especially if you’re writing guidelines. If someone thinks you don’t care about what you writing, then why should they? If you really don’t care then you shouldn’t be writing about it anyway. Consistency is nice, but not required, same with organizational structure. Sometimes it’s good to mention a point and then list a few more before elaborating on the original point. If you’re OC never count the letters, instead try counting the words, lines, or number of capital letters in comparison to the number of words. Remember to sometimes look past the profound sense of things. A good poet can look at a blade of grass and see the infinite beauty and profound sense of belonging, along with the symbolic equilibrium or dependency of others on that one blade of grass. But a truly great poet can see all that and remember, it’s just a blade of grass. Never write what you wouldn’t say, it is better to have a million people hate you for what you are than one single person liking you for something you are not. And even more literally, with only a few exceptions, never write something you wouldn’t want to read aloud. Or have read aloud for those of you who have stage fright, or just don’t like reading aloud. Take criticism in stride, never respond with spite. Whether it’s constructive or just says “You suck ass.” it doesn’t mean you’re a bad poet, but in the eyes of some you could improve, and improvement can never hurt. Also remember, your writing isn’t perfect, eventually you’ll get slammed big time, and what’s worse sometimes your critic will have a huge vocabulary. No problem. Take a deep breath, pull out a dictionary, decide whether you agree with their corrections and change the piece thusly. But if you like it than don’t change any of it. Either way thank the critic and do not under any circumstances make excuses, or respond with spite. If they get a completely wrong impression then elaborate, but apologize or make excuses. These ‘rules’ are not perfect, they all have a number of exceptions that I didn’t list. If you don’t like it, then pay it no mind. I am only trying to help, don’t want help? Than you probably shouldn’t have read this far. Number one rule. This is poetry. Never, ever forget that. There are no rules, no guidelines for poetry, not truly. No one can tell you your poem sucks because everything is opinion. Which is why I’ll end this how I started it. Your most important audience member is yourself. Write to express yourself, or to inspire others. Whyever you write, remember that it is you who is writing. Never, ever forget that.

I hope that this has been helpful, or even better, has inspired a new sense of understanding within at least one person who reads it. I know there will be people who disagree with these, like there are people who disagree with my poetry. But it is all opinion, right? No one can say this is good, no one can say it is bad, you can only express how you feel about it, and however that is, I would love to hear it. Thank you.


© Copyright 2019 Itsuwari. All rights reserved.

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