Learn to Write Better Poetry

a lesson

Poetry, Poetry Album, Old, Font, Poem, Saying, Memory
Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay 

If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing poetry, it’s that you’re never done learning how to do it. Anytime I find a new angle, a new inspiration, or technique, it feels like my first day as a poet all over again. I pick up my imaginary feather quill, dip it in my imaginary pot of magical ink, and I write.

So get out your imaginary quill and take a few notes. Perhaps there are a few poems waiting for you to birth them. Here are a few ideas that do not come from any book I’ve read or class I’ve taken, but from my quill, and the bend my mind takes while rounding new corners to find poetry.

Let’s talk syzygy.

(Ok so I learned a new word today and couldn’t resist adding it in…)

noun, plural syz·y·gies.

1. Astronomy . an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet: Syzygy in the sun-earth-moon system occurs at the time of full moon and new moon.

2. Classical Prosody . a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.

3. any two related things, either alike or opposite.

We will consider the third definition of syzygy. Two examples will help to explain.

Parallel Syzygy Poem

The first example, I call parallel poetry writing. In this technique you will follow this equation:

Equation: an object, a living being, or a train of thought + an action = new poem

Rule: The first item, being, or thought will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. The two will be similar in some way so that the comparison isn’t too forced, uncomfortable, confusing, or stark.

Here is an example of a poem that I wrote using this method:

thoughts of a child + swinging on a swing = Yesterdays

As you can see, there are easy similarities to be drawn between a child and the action of swinging and the two are easily pictured in the same scene.

Here is the poem for quick reference:

Yesterdays

Why don’t you climb inside
my braids and sing
me a song?

swinging
out over the grasses
our feet stretched so high
the chain-link grinds
as we rise
toward
sun

Why don’t you open up your
freckles and let
me inside?

I need
to know where
the June bugs hide in the winter
when swings don’t swing
and the night
stands
still

Consider the first stanza; these are the silly things you’d find bouncing around inside of the head of a happy child, lost in imaginative play. This theme carries throughout the poem as this child contemplates freckles and friendship, June bugs and their wanderings.

The action of swinging is evident as expressed in stanza two. Listen to the sound of the chain link grinding on the pole as this child swings. There’s also an interesting twist to this poem with regards to the structure…swinging out and back in with the line lengths, to mimic the pattern of swinging.

Juxtaposed Syzygy Poem

Now for the second example, I call juxtaposed poetry writing. You will, again, follow this equation:

Equation: an object, a living being, or a train of thought + an action = new poem

Rule: The first item, being, or thought will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. The two things will have very little, if anything, in common.

Here is an example of a poem I wrote using this method:

thoughts on being a poet + the cleaning of a fish (butchering) =The Poet Cleaning

Here is the poem for quick reference:

The Poet Cleaning

Ripped from the belly of the sea
pregnant with vowels
our tails slap hard
pendulous swings,
our eyes are benign, panicked moons,
fibroadenomas
sitting inside our heads.

They must be plucked out.

We climb outside ourselves,
hold the knife steady,
scrape against the grain,
shedding our silvers
until we are clean,
carve a canoe-slice across our necks
another, neck to belly,
our insides slide free.

This poem is about the vulnerability of being a poet. The poet must open up parts of themselves, sometimes very personal, with raw honesty. Now consider the action. Have you ever seen the cleaning of a fish? If you have not it is a violent really kind of gross thing to see. The knife scraping the scales away (called the “silvers” in this poem), and slicing off the head, cutting the length of the belly the fishes guts spill out in a slippery glub. The panicked eyes are wide.

I described the writer process using the terminology, visual images, and description of a fish cleaning process to show that opening process the poet does while writing. We dig pretty deep when writing poetry — our insides slide free.

One would not normally think of these two things at the same time, but the metaphor sits well in this poem, giving it richness, depth, and provokes an emotional reaction in the reader.

Now, anyone want to give it a try?

Choose either of the above methods and write your poem. Link back here so I can see what you create!

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

― Anaïs Nin


Christina Ward is a poet and aspiring author working on her first book, a piece of literary, mainstream fiction, and is a columnist for the Observer News Enterprise newspaper. Her poetry has been published in the Cameo literary magazine, the Arrowhead literary magazine, Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, and in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine.

Don’t Miss Updates on Christina’s Poetry and Book Releases!

National Poetry Month Challenge — Poem # 3

Old man Shoes

I wrote this poem as a response to Intimately Intricate (on Medium)’s April Prompt: New Dawn. The poem was chosen for publication here:

Intimately Intricate April Prompt New Dawn

As is true of many poetry prompts, my poem will often take me into uncharted waters…in this poem I wrote from the perspective of a young boy, and used HUMOR in my poem. WHOA. That is pretty different for me! Tell me what you think…


https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-wearing-black-hat-sitting-on-case-near-flowers-1049950/

Old Man Shoes

I am told the new dawn came
 while I slept fitfully 
 wrapped in the taco of a dream.
 Or a dream Of a taco
 though I’m not sure which.
 I am told it was quite spectacular
 but I slept way too shortly
 and woke up rather hungry
 and somehow wanting cheese.
 Was misty and spooky
 He said to me, while I chased
 colored hoops with a spoon
 Is that so, I said halfheartedly
 You bet! He said and hiked up
 his socks, slipping on his 
 old man shoes.
 I in my pj’s and you in your suit
 I sure don’t want to be you
 If that means the new dawn comes
 and I don’t get my usual snooze.
 Hey Dad, I said wiping milk 
 off my chin, Yeah son? You said
 with a scruff on my head…
 Can we have tacos soon?

National Poetry Month Challenge–Poem # 2 Lightning

Challenge: Write 10 poems this month to celebrate National Poetry Month.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/island-during-golden-hour-and-upcoming-storm-1118873/

Lightning

You were the cold air to my warm.
Every time I tried to rise
you crystalized
dropped me down
one terrifying electrical pulse
after another.
I charged and fell to the ground.

The air outside is electric.
I am drawn, mystified,
bursts of wind on my face
pulling me out, beyond
the trap of my front door.
Hands on the metal fence
eyes wide, heart bursting.
Exhilaration! That scent on the
air…my God! I can feel it!

The storm approaching, quickly,
violently, with flashes of white
and thunderous cracks
vibrating my spine,
lifting my tiny hairs
tingling, jolting, jarring,
awakening.

Leaves upturned, showing their whites,
vulnerable, submitting to ozone
and flash of terrifying release,
fingers of God pointing, choosing
ground to fire, fire to tree
tree to Thee.

I can smell the power,
feel it stirring within me.
Choose me! Choose me!
Please.
Lift me on fiery wing
to Thee, to Thee!

From the safety of the door
behind me, Get back in the house!
You barking at me.
Always barking at me
or growling your menacing growl.
You coward.
Back in the house?
You are the only one safe in there.


Come inside?
Through the kitchen where you
pressed my face to the floor?
Past the stairs where I slept
and wept upon the carpeted corners
reeking of dust and neglect?
Past the bathroom door where
the mirrors know my bruises
and the tear-swelled lids of my eyes
as well as it knows it’s purpose, hanging there.

Like it’s safer in there than out here?

I know my purpose too, you know.
I intend to rise.
I intend to rise.

I stand, gripping tight to chain-link
the ground yielding vibration with the
rolling roars, shock waves splintering
connecting, fury unbound
they revolt and celebrate the sky.

                                                                  (Duplicity is a real bitch.)

Flash!  Again…again!…stir me, shake me
beat me wise,
friction then repose

I lift, face to the sky
electricity in the air
lifting me higher, higher
leaving you
     down
        there.

National Poetry Month–Poem #1 “Safety Pin”

Join me in this challenge–write 10 poems this month to celebrate National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month Goal for myself–Write 10 Poems, Here is Poem #

Safety Pin

Cotton dress with floral print.
 I have chosen it carefully but
 I run out of gas! With
 Intent to impress
 folding under to shame,
 I begin my walking,
 My purse in tow, the shiny vehicle slows.
 No. Not the boss.
 I am thankful with verbiage
 Humiliated, I am
 Riding with a suit
 that costs more than my car
 discarded on the side of the road,
 to the office where gossip greets.
 He walks in, greeted with 
 enthusiastic handshakes
 and pompous attempts
 to garner his attention.
 I keep behind in my
 cotton dress with floral print,
 Invisible.
 I slink to my desk under
 Scrutinous stares, whispers.
 How did you come to work
 with the boss?
 I ran out of gas I say,
 Stretching out my arm to see
 the odd feeling, I probe
 a hole. A hole in my
 cotton dress with the floral print.
 In the absence of a safety pin
 I staple the fabric
 And set about my work.
 Invisible still.

Will you join me in this challenge? Post your poem or link to your poem in a comment below, so we can support each other and together celebrate our craft.

National Poetry Month

https://www.pexels.com/photo/low-light-photography-of-books-1301585/


National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.


https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home

Dusting off the old blog…

Late in February I made two decisions. First, I wanted to start writing again. (The first thing I did was bought a laptop so I could work. It had been awhile since I’d even looked at my blog, and by awhile, I mean years. I started it back in 2008, hit hard at it for a couple of months, swinging blindly in the dark with no direction, no idea what I was doing, and worked my way up to 14 whole followers, most the result of a cross stitch freebie I offered.

I couldn’t even remember how to log in.

So, I figured out the log in stuff, revamped the blog over the course of 48 exhausting hours (still very much clueless about how to edit and post, navigate, or promote) and relaunched with renewed purpose and a clearer vision for what I wanted the blog to be. i still have less than 150 followers but that number is rising a little each day.

The second decision was to finish my book. I researched and purchased Scrivener and worked hard at the tutorial to learn how the features worked, and I set out to inputting the few measly pages I’d written and plunged forward to writing.

A funny thing happens when you honor your dream: doors open. I am writing poetry again. People are reading it. Literary journals are publishing it. Even my local newspaper has picked me up as a columnist and …get this…they encourage me to submit my poetry for publication! So far two of my poems, Bluebirds in Late Winter and Tomorrows have been published in the paper. I started a Medium account: https://medium.com/@fnfwriter and guess which of my posts are getting the highest attention?

The poetry.

Oh, my heart! And here I was posting articles, thinking, I’ve got to have something on Medium to get people to my page, so they see the poetry.

But they COME for the poetry.


Poetry, like all art, has a message for us. It says: care, grow, develop, adapt, overcome, nurture, protect, foster, cherish. It says: your reality is spiritual. It says: achieve your full humanness. It invites us to laugh, reflect, cry, strive, persevere. It says: rejoice! Above all, it says to us: be! We cannot turn our backs on art. Art heals. – from a talk by Roger White, Bring Chocolate, in The Language of There

https://bahaiteachings.org/whats-the-true-purpose-of-poetry

So, here in National Poetry Month, I am going to pay more attention to my craft, without apology. With a renewed confidence that what I am doing, and you, my fellow poet, should do the same. There ARE still people out there that can appreciate the value of poetry, how it moves us. Shows us our own humanity. Allows us to go away to some interesting place where we measure what we know against what we are seeing in the words of a poem, and then let the heart decide how to read it. Poetry makes us think, analyze, process…and in a good way. by choice we go on the journey, either to write it or to read and experience it.

I invite you this month to:


  • Support poets and honor their craft with your attention, your reactions, your thanks. As a poet, we truly do love a reader-response!
  • Read a poem from your favorite famous poet. Don’t have a favorite? FIND a favorite poet and learn their story and style.
  • Write a poem! Or write one every day of the month if you are up to the challenge!

If you’d like to leave your link below to your poetry blog or if you’d like to share a poem in a comment, you are welcome to do so. Thank you for reading and HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!!

How To Help You Write Beautiful Poems – Learn 2 Poems Styles

 

White Ceramic Teacup With Saucer Near Two Books Above Gray Floral Textile

Let’s talk syzygy. (Ok so I learned a new word today and couldn’t resist adding it in…)


noun, plural syz·y·gies.

1. Astronomy . an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet: Syzygy in the sun-earth-moon system occurs at the time of full moon and new moon.
2. Classical Prosody . a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
3. any two related things, either alike or opposite.

We will consider the third definition of syzygy. I have for you a couple of poem equations that may lead you to your next big poem. Are you up to the challenge?
Two examples will help to explain.
The first example, I call parallel poetry writing. You will take an example of :
1. an inanimate object or a train of thought
and add
2. an action
to equal your poem.
The item in #1 will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. 
For the parallel version of this poetry challenge, the two things you have chosen will be similar in some way so that the comparison isn’t too forced, uncomfortable, confusing, or stark. Here is my example of a poem that I wrote using this method:
thoughts of a child + swinging on a swing = Yesterdays
Now for the second example, I call juxtaposed poetry writing. You will, again, take an example of:
1. an inanimate object or a train of thought
and add
2. an action
to equal your poem.
The item in #1 will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. 
Only this time, the two things will have very little, if anything, in common. Here is my example of a poem I wrote using this method:
thoughts on being a poet + the cleaning of a fish (butchering) = The Poet Cleaning ~ (a poem about being a poet/writer)
Now, anyone want to give it a try? Choose either of the above methods and write your poem. Post it on your blog with a pingback to this blog post, or email it to me @ fiddleheadsnfloss@gmail.com with your publishing name, a link to your Twitter or your blog for me to do a pingback for you and I will blog some of my favorites.
Now go…go and be a poet 🙂