Tips for Poetry Writing

As my poetry writing workshop draws to a close, I’ve been collecting together all of the best poetry writing tips I’ve gotten over the years into one place, so I’ll have them to refer back to when I’m writing on my own. Here’s a quick list of some of the tips that have helped me most over the past few years.

1. Keep in mind that poetry means thinking in terms of how ideas, objects, and images are related. The best poems create surprising and true relations.

2. Use images, not abstractions, to create metaphors or influence your reader. Don’t try to say something about life – let your images convey it instead.

3. Connect all of your images in your poem. If an image doesn’t connect, consider taking it out.

4. Use good details! Details speak the loudest in a poem.

5. Remember, the first line of your poem tells the reader how to read it – pay careful attention here!

6. The ending of each line should push the reader on to the next line.

7. Use precise verbs instead of verbals (ing words) or adverbs.

8. Mix short and long sentences or fragments.

9. End on an image, and don’t explain it! Again, don’t tell the reader what to think or feel – show them!

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