Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Best Place to Write a Poem

What cheek you may be thinking, what makes me think I am qualified to answer this question? Some days I have to agree with you - on dark and grey days it is hard to remember I have written poems and had them published for payment.

But I have had poems published, not once, but far more often than that. Even so, I would never presume to say - "This is the only way to write a poem!"

I know different people write fantastic poems in ways that differ widely. Some must do their first draft on paper, with a particular pen. Others say they can only write creatively on their computer. Personally, I have done both, successfully or not, many times.

Some people can only write poetry if they are in a particular room, some must be at a particular place, while others seem to be able to write well no matter where they are or what sort of disaster is going on around them.

If you only write at a certain place, and won't try anywhere else, to you have a good reason for that? Have you tried to write somewhere else and failed? If that is the case, it is still worthwhile trying other times and places. It may be the time you failed just wouldn't have worked no matter what, and if you refuse to try somewhere else, you are making life hard for yourself.

Give somewhere else a go, but make sure it is a pleasant place, so that even if the writing doesn't work it's not a complete loss. I have had fun writing at my local hotel, with amazingly good and terrible awful results. It doesn't matter, I had fun no matter what!

Different poems can sometimes call for different methods. If you always write your pithy short poems on modern life sitting at your dining table at night, maybe you could explore something different, somewhere else. Perhaps give haiku a go, sitting at a public park.

It is worth a try, anything and everything is worth a try, if writing poetry is your thing.

The best place is to write a poem is the place that works for you now, which may be quite different from what and where works next time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is Poetry?

It has to rhyme, I hate it, teachers put me off it at school, It's too hard to write. I've been told all of these things by people when I've discussed poetry. I feel so sad for the people who hate poetry and were put off it at school.

I have written an article about that here. I really believe teachers who don't at least like, if not love, a subject shouldn't be allowed to teach that subject to students.

Poetry does not have to rhyme, although rhyming is an important part of the ballad style that most people thing of when you mention poetry. Bush ballads certainly must rhyme, and must also adhere to strict rules, which can put more free-spirited people off.

But it is not mandatory that poetry does rhyme. There have been many fine poems written in the free verse style that don't rhyme. There is usually some sense of rhythm though, and maybe 'slant' rhymes, that is words that almost but not quite rhyme.

Alliteration and assonance my also be there, and many other things that can bring a collection of words together in a manner pleasing to the ear and mind. Poetic forms such as haiku certainly don't rhyme, but have their own charm when done well.

Give poetry a go - there is a lot of contemporary out there, on a huge range of subjects. There are also lots of opportunities to go out to poetry readings/poetry slams, and hear contemporary read/performed.

Even if you don't think you like poetry, why not give it another go, you might surprise yourself.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quantity first, then Quality

Well, my Personal Poetry Month has ended. I gave myself the task of writing a new poem every day in April, and it is now May.

I didn't manage a new poem every day as such, but on some days I managed more than one poem, so the overall total is more than thirty poems, so I am very pleased with myself. I definitely managed to get the quantity done.

But what of the quality? Well, I wasn't aiming to get thirty fully polished and publishable poems every day. I was just trying to up my written matter to work on. The hard work starts now, I suppose.

But I've had a bit of a look at what I have written in April, and I am surprised at the quality of some of the poems there in my notebook, and on my computer. Some of the poems have had a little going over to sharpen them up, some of them came out already sharp, and some of them need lots of work if they are ever going to be anything.

But overall, I can recommend this method to anyone who is able to devote half an hour every day to pen a poem. Even if, or maybe especially if, you only write poetry every now and then, give it a try. Worst case scenario? You have thirty poems you don't like much. But I think doing this exercise can bring you closer to your poetry, and focus you more on the idea of working on your writing.

If you seriously care about improving your poetry, getting this many poems to work on is a huge help. With thirty poems, you don't feel so protective of them and you become more at ease with editing properly.

Give it a try, you'll be pleased you did!