SOME TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR POETRY

I run a number of poetry workshops at festivals and I always end by giving the participants a list of writing tips. I thought I’d sharePoets these with you:

  • Always have paper and a pen on you for when inspiration strikes. This does not have to be a full blown concept; it could be a line or an idea, a snippet of conversation or something written on a wall. (The front cover of my first book came from a piece of graffiti on the entrance to a Metro in Barcelona. I get lots of ideas as I do other things; the secret is to write them down.)
  • No matter how amazing your first draft is, revise it. Then revise it some more.
  • Be critical, ask yourself exactly what is this poem saying? Is it clear to you? If not revise it some more.
  • Read it out aloud, better still get someone to read it for you, think about how it sounds.
  • Never be too in love with a line. Sometimes you have to take out your favourite line because it doesn’t fit-save it, you may be able to use it elsewhere.
  • Look at your poem and think does it still work if I take this word out? Remove any excess words. Make it lean.
  • Then leave it alone for a week or two-if you can. Time grants a more critical eye.
  • Show it to people, join a writing group, get feedback and learn to structure your opinions. Get a writing buddy, so you can give and get constructive feedback on your work.
  • Read as much poetry as you can. Not just the poets you already like with but different ones. Get an anthology and read a poem a day. Pay attention to how the poets structure their work; ask yourself what you can learn from each one as you read it.
  • Look at different poetical forms (rondels, villanelles, and tankas are just some you could explore) then try to write your own. You don’t have to show them to anyone but it will give you insight into the poetic process.
  • Lastly just keep writing.

This is the best information I can give. I’d be interested in hearing your pointers and tips

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