Poetry rules


Actually, I’m thinking about a post I saw on Kelli’s blog Book of Kells, where she explored the rules she uses for poetry. Which made me ponder, what are my rules?

  1. Mostly I write from the topic outwards, letting the poem find its own form. Sometimes the poems stay as free verse, sometimes I notice patterns of rhyme or rhythm or repetition starting to form, and choose to encourage them. Less often, I decide on a structure early on and try to fit the poem into it – it can be an interesting exercise but some poems just don’t like to have a particular form imposed.
  2. I try to make sure I read my poems aloud to get a feel for the rhythm and sound of the words. I should do this more often though! I almost always use stress to structure the rhythm, rather than going for strict meter which tends to distort the poem.
  3. For me the idea at the heart of the poem is crucial. Sometimes I just let the idea stand and don’t fret with the words too much.
  4. I am trying to spend more time marinating the ideas before I put them into poem form – various exercises recently have shown me that this makes for much richer poems! Which can mean gathering ideas and letting them sit around in a notebook, or starting a poem with a writing practice.
  5. I feel every poem needs some element of brightness about it. I don’t feel a poem’s finished unless it has at least a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, there is sadness in the world, and expressing it is important, but for me brooding on it without any brightness just makes me and my readers more gloomy!
  6. I try to write about the things I don’t want to write about, for whatever reason. In particular, I deliberately decided to allow myself to write as many poems as I wanted about my last relationship – the creative process has contributed greatly to the healing process, and vice versa. And I don’t want to choke off that fruitful connection by worrying that my readers will get bored, or will judge that I’m making no progress at all in getting over it.
  7. I try not to use words for the sake of appearing “poetical”. I do like the vividness of language that flows from taking a different perspective on the situation – for me that’s the essence of poetry. But it’s the perspective that has to come first, otherwise it just becomes a pose!

4 responses to “Poetry rules

  1. The rules seem sensible and they must work as they make for great poems! Keep it up! 😉

  2. they’re all quite creative

    #4 – I’m the opposite, I write before the idea comes, but sometimes it comes but doesn’t have any fruition until I put them down on paper or in the computer

    #5 – I agree with you on that but sometimes the gloominess just sticks and hard to shake them off

    #7 – yes, that’s a good point, but then again, I’m rarely poetic in words, so..

  3. Those are fantastic guidelines. The one thing I try to do also is to test my own rules and boundaries, always explore different ways and means. Your poetry here demonstrates the effectiveness of your guidelines, it is all careful and well made and effective.

  4. I’m happy to have inspired this!

    I like your list and reading aloud is a key. I also like your “brightness” rule.

    thanks, I enjoyed this!

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