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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resolve to improve your poems

Instead of making more New Year’s resolutions, how about promising ourselves to do what we can this year to improve our poems?

Self-improve your poems

Listen to your poems! Read each poem and each revision aloud, noticing anything that seems “off.” Then believe yourself! Find out what bugs you, where, and why. Once you’ve identified a problem you can usually correct it.

Change viewpoints! Revise a first person poem to second or third person perspective. For instance, a poem that’s all about you might expand to include other people if the narrator changes from “I” to “you” or “s/he.” Or pluralize the perspective from one “I” to “we,” so we’re all in this together.

Cut it out! Shorten poems that go on too long by omitting blah words, unnecessary phrases, redundant thoughts, or repetitive ideas. Cut lines that do not add anything new.

Treat words and lines like furniture! Move them around. Check the overall effect by reading aloud each version. Then simply return words to their original positions if that’s the best placement.

Leave readers wanting more! End each poem on its strongest, freshest, most insightful line.

Know when to get help!

Find helpful feedback and resources

Follow this blog, and scroll down to revisit posts from the last 3 years.

Type a key word in the Search box to learn more about a particular form such as haiku or technique such as scansion.

Study resources for poets and writers.

Order the e-book, the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry to discover your poetic options with a wealth of poetry forms and various types of rhymes and rhythms. (The poems used to illustrate techniques or terminology can be considered “G” rated.)

Or, order the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun e-book as a fun way to learn about poetry forms and techniques.

If you’re still unsure how to improve your poems, get professional feedback through a poetry critique that focuses on strengths, general effectiveness, and the crucial question to be asked of each word, thought, line, or whole poem: “Does it work?”

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler has authored 27 traditionally published books in all genres, including 3 books of poetry, Outside Eden, Beach Songs & Wood Chimes, and Living in the Nature Poem.