Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quick Rules for Better Writing, Part 2

Molly Peacock said once in a lecture to read fourteen poems for each one you write. Good advice. Better advice is to read one great poem fourteen times for each one you write. Study HOW it means not what it means. Why each word? Why each line break? Why each stanza break? Why write the poem? Identify the sonic elements-- meter, rhyme, assonance etc.-- all the poetic devices. Read the poem aloud. As the wine taster does, notice the mouth feel. Does the poem read better silently? Listen to the poem read by another. (Do this with your own poems.) Read it a month later, a year later-- how has it changed?

All these things will make the poem and its poetry yours to call upon as you write. Never stop learning and studying the craft and never stop reading the great ones. Everything will become part of the thought basin you call upon when you write and the larger that thought basin the better your writing will be. So step two is to read a great poem fourteen times for each one you write.

Part 3 in the next post.
So long for now.

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