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Full Version: For Beginner Poets: How To Know If Your Poetry Sucks
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I came across this article by Ami Mattison that pretty much sums it up (I found it by googling "why diary entry poetry is awful").

Some excerpts:

"Experienced poets, whether we acknowledge it or not, usually know when our poetry sucks. But as a beginner, it’s natural to be confused by what makes a “good” poem."

"Poetry is a very complex craft that requires lots of practice and experience to master... the best way to learn how to write poetry that doesn’t suck is to read lots of great poetry. So, check out your public library and read some poetry by well-known, great poets."

"Expressing yourself, enjoying the pleasure that language has to offer, and articulating your own truths are the most significant reasons for writing poetry. So, when you’re first starting out, don’t worry too much about whether or not your poetry sucks. Rather, try to have some fun— experiment with words and play with meanings.

If you write enough poetry, then you’re bound to write sucky poetry occasionally. As this article suggests, every poet does. Bad poetry clears the way for great poetry."

"When you love your poetry, you’ll want to make it better. And if you want to make it better, you’ll want to practice, experiment, and play; and by doing so, you’ll gain the necessary experience to improve and maybe write a lot less sucky poetry."

Mattison identifies several "danger" areas for beginning poets and provides examples by comparing two of her own poems. These are the same things that come up time and time again in poems here -- and poets who are serious about improvement will quickly realise that we're not just pushing our own stylistic agendas on this site, we're genuinely trying to give you all the tools you need to develop your own powerful, individual poetic voice.
What fantastic information. This would have saved me years. Thanks for sharing this Leanne.
Some of us had to learn it the hard way Smile And as the article points out, there aren't any real shortcuts -- nothing beats experience.
Experience and a lot of reading poetry.
maybe publish the whole page cos it really is important for people to see, great write.
People can click you know Wink
they can but most won't Wink

i left a comment on the blog anyway, it's a good write. i sort of feel validated about the glut of cliche new poets bring to their poems. which of course is only one aspect of the blog.
I think it's only fair that good blogs get the clicks Smile -- and it's very nice to see things we've been saying ad nauseum being validated (indeed!) by another source.
Anyway, that's a great article. Though knowing and applying are quite different things. It helps to know why a poem one wrote sucks, making improvements and revisions more convenient.
(02-04-2013, 12:01 PM)brandontoh Wrote: [ -> ]Anyway, that's a great article. Though knowing and applying are quite different things. It helps to know why a poem one wrote sucks, making improvements and revisions more convenient.
it's also good because as leanne (and me) implies. it reinforces some of the stuff people say on this site. as long as we all help each other we'll improve Wink
Glad to have read it. It gave me some easy ways to approach editing.

I particularly enjoyed the paragraph on loving one's sucky poetry. As, I've never inquired, "do my poems suck?" But rather, "WHY do all my poems suck?" Even in my pessimism though, there always seems to be some neurotic love and understanding of my most undeserving work.
My phone won't let me they link, thought I was in for am interesting read during my night shift! Gutted. Will have a looksy when I'm home
Here's the full link if it helps:


That middle bit that keeps getting abbreviated is: for-beginner-poets-how-to-know-if-your-poetry-sucks
weird...it's not my phone...my comp doesn't come up with a link...just comes up with a domain type page....hmmmm...am I just being thick? lol
No, you're not -- it's not coming up anymore for some reason. I'll see if I can track it down via another link. Thanks for letting me know.

Damn, all the links from every page seem to go to that same place -- should have copy/pasted when I had the chance! Ami's blog has some useful articles, it's at http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blog/l...mcu0s3frog, but I'm afraid we've lost that one.

I also found some DIY Proofreading and Editing Tips. Learning from past mistakes, I've copied the gist of it here but the full text is worth a read (provided the link stays live!) These are for all kinds of writing, not just poetry, but most of them apply no matter what the genre.

1. Proofread and edit every single piece of writing before it is seen by another set of eyes. No exceptions. Even if you do hire a professional editor or proofreader, check your work first.

2. Understand the difference between proofreading and editing. Edit first by making revisions. When the piece is done, proofread to check for proper grammar.

3. Use the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word when you edit. This feature essentially saves your edits and marks up your document so you can go back and revert to different revisions.

4. Step away from a piece of writing before you proofread it. The longer the piece, the longer you should wait to proofread it. Let a novel sit for six weeks. Let a blog post sit overnight.

5. Before proofreading and editing, run spelling and grammar check. Then, run it again after you’re done polishing to check for any lingering typos. However, don’t count on software for spelling and grammar. Use it as a fail-safe.

6. Read your work aloud. Pronounce each word slowly and clearly as you read and check for mistakes. Proofreading should never be a rush job. Do it s l o w l y.

7. Don’t review your work once and then send it out into the world. I recommend editing until the piece reads smoothly and proofreading everything three times or more.

8. At the very least, proofread until you don’t catch any more errors.

9. Read the piece backward so you can see each word separately and out of context.

10. Look up the spelling of proper names, scientific, and technical terms that you’re not familiar with to make sure you’re spelling them correctly.

11. Don’t make any assumptions. If you’re not sure about something, then look it up so you can fix a mistake (if there is one) and learn the correct way.

12. Don’t forget to proofread titles, headlines, and footnotes.

13. Pay attention to the mistakes you’ve made in your writing. You’ll find that you tend to make the sames ones repeatedly. Keep track of these and work on avoiding them during the initial writing process in the future.

14. Choose one of the many style guides and stick with it. This will make your work more consistent, and you’ll have a great resource to use when you have questions about style and formatting.

15. Start building a collection of grammar books and writing resources so when you do run into questions (and you will), you have access to reliable and credible answers.

16. If you intentionally let grammatical mistakes slip through, do so by choice and make sure you have a good reason. It’s okay to break the rules if you know why you’re breaking them.

17. Pay attention to formatting. Use the same formatting on all paragraphs, headings, and other typographical stylings. Learn how to use these features in your word processing software.

18. Proofread when you’re fresh and wide awake. Proofreading doesn’t go over well when you’re tired or distracted.

19. Proofreading and editing can be tedious so break up your revision sessions by doing other tasks that help you clear your mind: exercise, play with the pets or kids, go for a short walk, or listen to some music. Try to avoid reading or writing during these breaks.

20. Make it your business to develop good grammar skills. Read up on grammar or subscribe to a blog that publishes grammar posts (like this one) to stay up to date on proper grammar.
reading backwards is a good tip.. i have done it myself.
Joan's back! Hooray!

And I've read your poems, Madame Bronte... I think sometimes you write upside down as well :p
Hi joan
I like to read outward from the centre Smile
[Image: 392787_594630980564227_390074530_n.jpg]


You think those researchers in Spain got all the credit for reporting the same thing you and others on this site say almost everyday?
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