Improving Your Poetry

January 17, 2015 by No Comments

Improving Your PoetryIt has been a while since we posted some writing advice on poetry so we thought we’d look at a couple of articles on how to improve your poetry and how you’ll know when your poem is good.

When Does Your Poem Needs Improving

We start today with a report from on a workshop Neil Astley, editor of Bloodaxe Books, gave in Norwich November 2013. Neil started by listing six reasons why your poem may not be working:

  1. They are not crafted i.e. it’s prose chopped into lines, and there’s no metre or rhythmical sense.
  2. It’s obvious the writer never reads other poets and that their experience of poetry comes from poorly remembered school lessons.
  3. There are awkward rhymes with the inversion of words.
  4. In the middle of a good poem there’s a ‘wrong note’: a line or word that jars or is syntactically wrong or grammatically wrong.
  5. It’s boring. It might be OK but it’s anodyne. This particularly applies to writers out of writing schools.
  6. The poem sounds too much like an existing writer.

How to Improve Your Poem

However Neil, does have some advice on how to improve your poem. His four suggestions are:

  • Read your stuff aloud
  • Workshop your poems with other poets – the more skilled the better
  • Go to groups and go on courses (such as West Lothian Writers!)
  • Above all, read, think and write.

It is worth going to and reading the report on Neil Astley’s workshop talks about a number of issues such as entering competitions, writing pamphlets and self publishing.

When You’ve Got It Right

So once you’ve gone through the four steps above how do you know if your poem is finished and ready to be published? For the answer we turn to Writer’s Relief who have written an article detailing The 8 Signs You’ve Written A Good Poem. The eight signs are:

  1. You’ve tackled a big idea.
  2. You’re using the best form to convey your ideas.
  3. You’re making perfect word choices.
  4. You’re using powerful images.
  5. You’ve cut out everything unessential.
  6. You are giving away neither too little nor too much.
  7. Your reader has a strong emotional reaction.
  8. Your reader has a strong intellectual reaction.

As usual Writer’s Relief have a lot of detail explaining each point so head over to The 8 Signs You’ve Written A Good Poem now.

What is your favourite way of improving your poems?

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