Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ten Tips to Overcome Your Intimidation of Poetry

Shelby Englehardt
Poetry can be a very expressive and intimate form of communication, but many writers see it as intimidating. I know there have been many times that I have started writing a poem, thought to myself, “Man, I wish I were much better at this,” and walked away from a half written poem. Recently, I have started to look for ways to improve my poetry. Since it is National Poetry Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some tips with you.
1.       Use a thesaurus. Vary your word usage. If you don’t have a paper thesaurus, use one on the internet.
2.       Try your hand at different forms of poetry. Most of us stick to free-style poems, but venture out into a new form. Sometimes having a set form as a guide makes it easier to focus on the thought you wish to convey.
3.       Learn about different types of rhyme. End word rhyme schemes are not the only ones that exist. Study different schemes and dare to use one.
4.       Take as long as you need. Rarely is a poem written in 10 minutes and perfect. Writing poetry is no different than any other form of writing. Many times it takes sleeping on it and editing it later to produce a finished product.
5.       Read more poetry. We, as writers, learn by reading. The novelist is sure to read many novels before completing their own, and poets are no different.
6.       Learn to analyze poetry. Break the poetry you are reading down into stanzas, verses, and meters. Look at what makes the poem work. How does the author use the words on the page to convey their thought, literally and figuratively? How does the author use white space to contribute to content?
7.       Write more poetry. They do say practice makes perfect.
8.       Read your poetry aloud. Reading your work aloud gives you a sense of how natural it sounds. Forced flow is not conducive to poetry, so make sure it sounds organic and flowing.
9.       Live life! It is easier to write about things you have experienced. Go live your life and use your experiences as a basis for your poems. Travel! Endeavor to see the world through a writer’s eyes.
10.   Seek out and listen to critiques. Just as with all writing, peer review is an absolute must. Look for someone who will be honest with you and will give helpful feedback.
These tips may not make you the next William Butler Yeats, but they will give you a great start to learning to be more comfortable with writing poetry. Why not take out a blank sheet and give it a shot?

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