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Poetry Preferences & How to Edit Poetry
Poetry is a great form of writing that allows you to express yourself. You can say anything you want with a series of short or long lines, rhymes, and style. Poetry is a great outlet to express the emotions that you normally wouldn't be able to express in daily speach.
The problem that most people have when writing poetry, is editing their own work. You may think, "I wrote it that way because."
Well, did you ever sit and think, "If I switched this around... did that... re- wrote this..." that the poem would be better?
I find that's where ego sets in.
But, remember, before you can claim to be a poet, or writer, you have to prove yourself as one.
You can't wake up and take the position as Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson, or Elizabeth Barret Browning. These are just a small handful of great poets, and they didn't start assuming themselves as greats.
You have to work your way up there.
I'm hoping to give you a few ideas to help you edit your poem to make it better before you proclaim it finished.
No Poem is Wrong
Remember that poetry is a special form of writing that allows you do pretty much anything you want. It's an art. People don't say that the abstract paintings of Andy Warholl are wrong? He did them the way he did for a reason. But, every artists critiques his work, and every artist needs to look at his work with an editors eye before declaring it finished.
Just because you wrote a poem as is, doesn't mean that it's perfect and couldn't be better.
I once knew a guy who declared his poems finished from the start. He wrote one to two words per line, leaving his poems 50 plus lines long. They were hard to read, and often made no sense.
One day he asked me to re-write a poem. I gladly excepted, as I had been trying to get him to "fix" the poem for a while.
When I was finished, he loved the poem. He felt it was better than before, but he refused to change any of the others. He wanted me to, and replied, "this is fun. do them all." Poetry isn't a game to me, and I wasn't going to partake in the silliness.
An example of his work (not his exact work):
Would you want to read that for 50 to 100 lines? No punctuation. No format. No style.
I'm not saying this type of poem is wrong, per say, just that it needs work before it can be called a poem, versus a list of words.
Don't let your, "I wrote it that way, so that's how it stays" ego get in the way of a possibly great poem. You're not Frost yet, so don't act like him.
When editing a poem, think about the best format for that particular poem. Not every poem will have the same format and style, as like a painting or sculpture the same design won't work in every case. It will get old and repetitive.
Again, unless you've already been proclaimed a poet by some professional critic, you're not a poet. So don't act like one in your ego and attitude.
There are great ways to format a poem- little things that make it interesting.
- When you come to great "drop off" words, end the line even if it's not the end of the line, phrase, sentence, or thought. Consider fall, drop, end, and other synonyms as "drop off" words.
The rain fell
To the ground, and
It poured for days.
- Use complete thoughts and phrases. Just because some of the greats use run- ons, sentence fragments, and other improper grammar, it doesn't mean that it always works or should work for an amateur poet. Just find ways to break up sentences so that they read the way you want.
- Not every line has to end in punctuation. Try throwing off your routine, and end with a word not a period, comma, or colon.
An example of formatting a poem to read differently.
Cats are furballs of independence that like me.
I love cats, too.
Everyone should love cats.
Cats, furballs of independence,
Seem to be magnetized to me.
The liking is mutual, but
The glue that holds our bond
Does not hold everyone.
Shouldn't we all love cats?
Now, although, neither poem can be considered great, can you see the difference between the two?
A simple formatting change can be what breaks the ice between a mediocre poem and a great one.
A big misconception with many, is that poems have to rhyme.
Just that simple. Poems don't have to rhyme. It's up to you, the poet, to determine whether you're poem will rhyme or not.
Some poems sound better with a few rhymes, but not every single line ending in a rhyme. So you may want to consider taking a look at your poem. Can you add a few rhymes to make it better? Take away a few?
There are different types of rhymes that you can use in a poem.
- End Rhyme: the end of the line have rhyming words
- Internal Rhyne: words at the end of one line rhymes with a word in the middle of another line.
- Holorhyme: two entire lines rhyme
You can use:
- True rhymes: words that really have similar sounds (ex. dog, hog, log)
- Sprung rhymes: words in which the end consonant appears to rhyme (ex. ant, bent, pint)
- Slant rhyme: words that look like they wouldn't rhyme but come close (ex. green, fiend, mean)
- Semi- rhyme: a rhyme where one word has an extra syllable (ex bend, ending, mend)
Other terms that can be consider part of a rhyme include:
- Alliteration: to have matching sounds (ex. short, ship, shore)
- Assonance: to have matching vowels (ex. leaf, tree, me)
- Consonance: to have matching consonants (cake, key, kick)
Remember that there is such a thing as repetitive and unnecessary rhymes, so look at your poem to decide whether the poem needs a rhyme or not.
Vivid Words and Phrases
Check your poem for vivid words and phrases. Did you say the "old man" or the "wrinkled man with a bent gait"?
Because poetry is meant to create an image with fewer words than a story or paragraph, you must make sure that you used vivid imagery.
Use loaded words that create the perfect connotations to the image that you're trying to portray. Don't say, just "the haunted house." Find ways to portray the same image without using an overused phrase.
When writing poetry, try to show and not tell. Find inventive ways to say "old" without actually using the word "old." Using this technique, you'll be able to create a more active picture for your reader.
Look at anything your write with an unbiased eye. If you look at it otherwise, you won't ever find anything wrong with it, and you'll never improve your writing style.