Saturday, October 29, 2005


What's wrong with writing about nature?

Some poets, stuck for the next thing to say,
Will look outside for their inspiration
Cover the page with a note on the day:
Events in the garden's population-
A new bloom here and a fruitfulness there
The violent end of a fledgeling bird
Creeping of beetles and swelling of pear-
The world is observed and sight becomes word

But all this should remain in the background
These things happen, unworthy of remark,
They distract from the place where truth is found
By their acts and cries: cats simper, dogs bark,
Grass grows, the birds sing, and bumble bees buzz
It's just nature doing what nature does

Martin Locock, 'Nature poem'

Tuesday, April 19, 2005



What's so wrong with rhyme? it's hardly a crime- I do it all the time. Well DON'T!!!
There's two separate issues here: rhythm and rhyme.

Rhythm is best explained by a limerick:

There was a failed poet from Japan
Who could not get his poems to scan
Asked to say why
He said he would try
To fit as many words into the last line as he possibly can

[imperfectly remembered from an unknown source]

Having similar sounds at the end of lines is not enough to make them poetry. You may be better off looking at the words to make them say what you actually want, regardless of rhyme. (As an exercise, it is valuable to try to write blank verse, that is in rhythmic, syllable-counted unrhymed lines).

Certainly, you want to avoid unnatural word-order which is there solely to make the rhyme fit:

"It was the woman of which he had often dreamed"

Poetry that sounds forced sounds awful. The rhyme should appear casual, as if it just so happened that it rhymed.

look at each pair of rhyming lines in your poem
how much of what is there is there because it says what you want?
get rid of the rest
you now have a poem that says what you want!

Ten rules for writing bad poetry

I Write as therapy
II Rhyme
III Write about Nature
IV Be natural
V Don't revise
VI Write from the heart
VII Be positive
VIII Be descriptive
IX Be musical
X Be [select least favourite poet]

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