Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quick Rules for Better Writing, Part 1

This list comes as a by-product of a lecture I recently gave titled Keats and Courage in Poetry. First: We must detach ourselves from self and dedicate ourselves to artistry. That is, when we bare our souls and ponder our pain, rather than let the pain be the soul of the poem let the pain be the vehicle that transcends itself into imaginative reflection on the greater world the pain inhabits. This is not to disavow the pain but to honor it. In the writing, the act of writing, remain conscious of the art of poetry in its expressive nature:

Sound, content, form poetic devices, theme metaphor, language, beauty, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, repetition, long and short vowel sounds, consonants, consonance etc.

The point is that the poetry world and the world of workshops are filled with people who want to write about their pain and sensitivity more than they want to write good poems. This does not serve the art. In my lecture I emphasize that while Keats had ample agony in his life, to write about it would have been a far lesser achievement than to dedicate himself to the art and craft of poetry as an end in itself. We must dedicate ourselves to that art if we are to be poets.

Next, Part 2, or How to Prepare to Write
So long for now.

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