Tidbits and Teaching

I've taught many poetry workshops, sharing with students lessons I've learned 

from teachers, mentors and critique groups.  Here are a few of my favorite tidbits

for the writer as well as the reader of poetry:


What Is a Poem Anyway?  

The Elements of Contemporary Poetry include some, if not all, of the following:

Language (diction, syntax, sound, rhythm, images, figurations)

Story (poem may be a complete narrative or simply a moment in time)

Feeling (for the writer and the reader) -- includes tension

Line (a poem's unique structure on the page)

Rhythm and Music -- rhyme and meter are optional 



Poetry may be narrative or lyrical -- or both

Poetry is a form of writing that is pared down to its essence 

        --  think of the "still-point" in ballet

Poetry touches the reader emotionally

Poetry uses images that are concrete (dirt, table), not abstract (love, joy)

         -- a poem should "show", not "tell"

Poetry has movement and tension

Poetry has restraint & gets to the reader's body fast



Fun quotes by Famous Poets:

Write to be awake, to pay attention:   Anne Lamott

If it takes the top of your head off, you know it's poetry:  Emily Dickinson

A poem is the best words in the best order:  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are no ideas except in things:  William Carlos WIlliams

God is in the pots and pans: Jane Hirshfield

End a poem with an image and don't explain:  Stanley Kunitz

Start a poem with an "abiding image":   Cathy Smith Bowers

A poem has two subjects, a triggering subject and a real subject:  Richard Hugo



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