How to Write an Acrostic

The acrostic poetry form is fun and easy to learn. For this reason it is very popular in elementary and middle school poetry programs. The key to the form is that the first letters of the first words of every line in the poem come together to spell out a word or phrase — generally the overall subject of the poem. For example: Sushi Squid, eel and tuna Upon a bed of rice Sit ready to be eaten Happily by those who can stand It. There are very few other requirements to the form. Acrostic poems don’t normally rhyme, which … Continue reading How to Write an Acrostic

What is a Stanza?

See Also: A Brief Glossary of Meter The term stanza means “stopping place” in Italian. A stanza is a set of lines in a poem, set apart from other sets of lines by space. Each stanza comprises its own unit. The break/space between stanzas generally indicates a pause between thoughts, concepts or actions. In standard practice, most poems end a sentence at the end of stanza. It is important to remember, however, that there is no definitive rule that says this must happen. Of all writing forms, poetry is the most experimental. Rules of form get broken all the time. … Continue reading What is a Stanza?

Poetry Tips Explained: Tip 11

The more you read, the more you learn. The more you write, the more you develop. The crux of this advice is simple, but far too few potentially good poets follow it. Poetry is a vast art form. In my opinion, it is a far more varied form than painting. Many different types of writing can come under the heading of poetry, from highly structured forms to free-flowing uncontrolled verse. The topics of poetry also can branch in a nearly infinite number of directions. In order to comprehend the art of poetry, a person needs to study it. Just as … Continue reading Poetry Tips Explained: Tip 11

Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tips Eight and Nine

People will remember an image long after they’ve forgotten why it was there. That one perfect line in a thirty line poem may be what makes it all worthwhile, or it may be what makes the rest of the poem bad. Keep an eye on it. These two tips reflect both the power of vivid imagery and the problems images can present. A perfectly formed image can be inspiring, devastating, funny, melancholy, dramatic, or subtle. For me, one of the great joys of reading poetry is experiencing the vivid writing poets produce. This image from a Tony Hoagland poem, Here … Continue reading Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tips Eight and Nine

Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tip Seven

Untitled poems are lazy. They’re like unnamed children. Obviously their parent doesn’t care about them. I’ve had my poetry tips published for over ten years now, and this, by far, is the most controversial tip. People get very upset when I tell them that untitled poems are lazy, and there is no doubt that I could have worded this tip in a kinder, gentler way. So be it. My worry is that it isn’t really laziness that causes this, but some pretentious desire by poets not to label their “art”. Well, forget it. Untitled poems look BAD. I absolutely hate … Continue reading Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tip Seven

Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tip Three

Say what you want to say and let your readers decide what it means. Most beginning poets spend too much time thinking about the intentions or themes of their poems. There are many different approaches to writing poetry. Some poets write highly structured poems. Some poets write poems about very specific subjects and have definitive goals about what they want their poem to do. While these approaches can produce great poems, I do not recommend them for beginning poets. Young poets and those writing poetry for the first time often become frustrated because they cannot seem to say what they … Continue reading Poetry Writing Tips Explained: Tip Three