Tuesday 5 May 2015

How to Exercise Your Poetic Muscles

Just as a weight lifter exercises his muscles daily, so too must a writer.  John Hewitt lists several ways to get the creative juices flowing.  Here are ten of them:

1.  Make a list of poems with memorable lines.  Re-read them and determine why they stand out.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learned to stray
Along the cool sequestered veil of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their ways.
(Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Thomas Gray)

Note:  Far From the Madding Crowd is also a novel by Thomas Hardy.

2.  Every poet has written a bad poem, if not several.  Write the worst poem possible filled with cliches, pretentious words and a "beat the reader over the head" theme.  Write several if you have to.  Get it out of your system.  Now you are mind is free to write your "masterpiece".

You stood in the classroom
lean and lanky
and told us your genius poem
"Roses are red
Violets are blue"
I like tractors.
(The Coffee Shop Times, Starr)

3.  "Listen to criticism and try to learn from it, but don't live or die by it."  Everyone is a critic.  Sometimes people have constructive criticism.  Others are simply nitpicking.  Try to distinguish one type from the other.  Learn from the constructive advice and then move on.  Read the following blog: http://positivewriter.com/how-to-give-constructive-writing-criticism-that-actually-helps/.

4.  The bigger the theme, the more important the details are.  Use vivid language.  Employ all five senses.

5.  Write a poem that is the opposite of what you believe.  Suspend your belief system, just for one day.

6.  Listen to talk radio.  Great characters emerge from such sessions.

7.  Every line of your poem should be important.  If your poem has three great lines, it should be three lines long.

Whitecaps on the bay
A broken sign board banging
In the April wind.
(Richard Wright)

8.  When your write a great poem, immediately write another one.  Go with the momentum.

9.  Write in different places to gather inspiration ex. park, street corner, alley.

10.  Publish a poetry journal or website.  Get the word out about your writing.

*To read all of John Hewitts' suggestions, visit http://www.poewar.com/poetry-writing-tips/.

*For a list of creative writing prompts for poetry, visit http://www.creative-writing-now.com/creative-writing-prompts.html.

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