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Thursday, 26 May 2005
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Posted by moon/vlk234 at 5:22 PM EDT
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Saturday, 30 April 2005

Posted by moon/vlk234 at 1:08 PM EDT
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Friday, 1 April 2005
Topic: Reciprocity
it's only fair

When you pick up a book of poetry, you read the poems, form opinions about each of them, maybe even highlight certain passages that strike you. When you do, you don't for one minute expect that author to read your work do you? Of course not! Especially since so much of what we read was written by poets who just happen to be dead now!

But, you see, this isn't the case with forum board poetry. Reciprocity is what makes forum board work -- it's what makes our little poetry world go 'round.

Every poet who posts a poem on a poetry forum board expects to be read and replied to, and the main way we insure that will happen is to read and reply to other's poetry. It's impolite to do otherwise, to expect to receive replies without having given any is rude and selfish.

The point being: If someone has read your poem and made a reply, you should return the favor -- read their work and offer your insights and opinions. It doesn't matter how much technical knowledge you posess, or how it compares to how much they have. What matters is that you are polite and considerate enough to read them, and tell them whether or not you enjoyed their writing, because it's very discouraging to write and post, and feel as though no one bothers to read what you've written.

Now in my opinion, the more in-depth their comments are, the more thought you should put into yours -- but really what matters is that you don't leave a fellow writer who's taken time to read your work out in the cold feeling as though he or she's been used.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 9:02 AM EST
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Wednesday, 30 March 2005
Daily Writing Time
Topic: Daily Writing Time
Make time for the words

Make time every day for writing, even on, or especially on, those days when you feel uninspired. What’s important is that you’ve made a daily commitment to writing something.

On days when you need a nudge, try some writing exercises – they’re easily found on the internet. Another idea is to approach a subject, style, or poetic device you generally have trouble with, such as dialogue. Dialogue is one of the most difficult poetic devices to use successfully – it takes much practice to refine your skill enough to be presentable to the public.

There are many ways you can write on a daily basis; start a basic journal or blog to brainstorm about things that happened in the day. These are a wonderful resource to be tapped into at a later date for inspiration.

There will be days that what you get onto paper (or onto the screen) won’t be anything you care to share with anyone else, but you’ve taken the time to experiment, hopefully learned something, and at the very least, recorded something of your ideas that you can use later.

All that matters is that you’ve kept your mind working in an artistic direction, and not given in to the temptation to abandon your work.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 6:57 PM EST
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Tuesday, 29 March 2005
Quick Tips
Topic: Quick Tips
I've found a few quickie tips on the web, I thought you'd all like to read them, many of them repeat things I've already said, but that's OK too, because those things bear repeating!

People will remember an image long after they've forgotten why it was there.

Submit your poems. Sooner or later you have to send your babies out into the world to find their way. Emily Dickinson was a fluke, most people who don't publish while they're alive will never be seen or heard of -- no matter how good their poems.

Think about what you are trying to express but don't do it with literal intentions, use symbols, metaphors and descriptions.

Be yourself when you are writing poetry, explore your different sides through poetry, the facets of your personality.

Write poetry about people that have touched you, objects you love, memories and places. Use your five senses and even your sixth sense.

Be like a diamond, having many facets making up a whole full of sparkling endeavors.

Get silent and breathe before you begin, being tranquil will make it easier to write.

Enlarge your vocabulary, look through dictionaries and books to increase your vocabulary and use those words in a poem.

Most of all have fun, strong feelings of any kind will enhance your true nature and you will find it easier to express it through your poetry.

Be happy writing poetry, this is your time to expand and write whatever comes into your mind.

Write to the world or write poetry to someone special.

Don't be shy.

Give thanks for life, reward it with a poem.

Say what you want to say, let the reader decide what it means.

Don't explain EVERYTHING.

Poems that focus on form (Sonnet, Villanelle, etc.) are a challenge. They make you think.

If you write a bad poem, at least you wrote.

Develop your voice. Get comfortable with how YOU write poetry.

Don't be afraid to write poetry from a different point of view. Write a poem that says exactly the opposite of what you believe, and do it without irony.

Untitled poems are lazy. They're like unnamed children. Obviously their parent doesn't care about them.

Write in different places. Keep a notebook. Write in a park or on a street-corner or in an alley. You don't HAVE to write about the place, but it will influence you whether you do or not.

Listen to talk radio while you write. Listen to the people who call. Great characters and voices emerge that way.

If you don't like a poem or poet, figure out exactly why. Chances are, it reflects something you don't like about your own poetry.

When nothing is coming, start writing poetry very fast-- any word, phrase or sentence that comes to mind. Do that for about a minute, then go back to your poem. (I call this flushing.) Whether to use anything you flushed is up to you. You can, but that's not the purpose.

The more you read, the more you learn. The more you write poetry, the more you develop.

Make a list of poems you can remember specific lines from. Go back and read those poems. Figure out why they stuck with you.

There are many excuses not to write. Try using writing poetry as an excuse not to do other things.

Keep a dream journal. Dreams are your mind at it's most creative so listen to it. Don't feel you have to write a poem ABOUT your dreams. If you want to, fine, but the main goal is to see what thoughts the dreams lead you to.

Subscribe to poetry journals. Give back to the poetry community by reading (and paying for) the works of others. If you don't, what right have you to expect others to do it for you?

When nothing is coming for you, try analyzing someone else' s poems. (Or even one of yours) Figure out what works, what doesn't work, and why. Think about what you would have done differently.

Use humor, irony, and melodrama, just don't abuse them.

Write the worst poem you can possibly write. Use cliché's, pretentious words, and beat your reader over the head with your point. Felt good, didn't it? Now get back to work. The point is, don't be afraid to write a bad poem. If it takes a hundred bad poems before you can produce a poem you like, fine, get that hundred out of the way.

That one perfect line in a twenty 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.

Every great poet has written a bad poem, probably dozens or hundreds, possibly thousands. They kept writing though, and so should you.

Every line of a poem should be important to the poem, and interesting to read. A poem with only 3 great lines should be 3 lines long.

Poems should progress. There should be a reason why the first stanza comes before the second, the second before the third, and so on.

Listen to criticism, and try to learn from it, but don't live or die by it.

When you write a good poem, one you really like, immediately write another. Maybe that one poem was your peak for the night or maybe you're on a roll. There's only one way to find out.

Follow your fear. Don't back away from subjects that make you uncomfortable, and don't try to keep your personal demons off the page. Even if you never publish the poems they produce, you have to push yourself and write as honestly as possible.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 7:54 PM EST
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Monday, 28 March 2005
Links and Lists
Topic: Lists and Links
Suggested Reading:

The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
by Richard Hugo.

In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop
by Steve Kowit

How to Read a Poem
by Edward Hirsch

A Poetry Handbook
by Mary Oliver

Sound and Sense
by Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp

The Poet's Companion : A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry
by Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio

Links to Aid in Writing:

For they Rhymer

(searchable rhymes and synonyms)

Rhyme Zone
Write Express



Writing Publishable Poetry

Absolute Write

Searchable listing of synonyms, synonyms and definitions

Vancouver Webpages

Mirriam Webster



Mirriam Webster


Poetry Writing Tips
Common Writing Mistakes
An editor’s view of the most common mistakes by Michael LaRocca

Help File: Common Mistakes
Opinions of various writers and editors about their ‘pet-peeves’

Poe War

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 7:47 PM EST
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Sunday, 27 March 2005
Challenge Anyone?
Topic: Challenge Anyone?
Challenge Anyone?

I think many (all) writers go through periods of writer’s block. Times when no matter how hard you stare a the page, nothing happens, which eventually devolves further to uninspired clichéd poetry about writer’s block – simply to feel you’ve been victorious, and written something – anything!

Well, today, in an effort to overcome writer’s block for some of you, and just to play for others, I’m offering you a challenge. I challenge you to write bad poetry.

Yes, you heard me correctly, I want you to write a cliché ridden sadly inartistic poem. Experiment with doing all the things my tips have taught you not to do. Now, to go one better, this poem has to include the following words:


See if you can do this in a variety of forms, try Haiku, Tanka, Sonnet... have fun with it!

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 8:54 PM EST
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Friday, 25 March 2005
Metaphysical Poetry
Topic: Metaphysical Poetry
1. Based on speculative or abstract reasoning.
2. Highly abstract or theoretical; abstruse.
3. Immaterial; incorporeal.
4. Supernatural.

Metaphysical Conceit
Metaphysical conceits are noteworthy specifically for their lack of conventionality. In general, the metaphysical conceit will use some sort of shocking or unusual comparison as the basis for the metaphor. They are highly ingenious metaphors that appeal to the intellect and use verbal logic to sometimes ridiculous lengths.
When it works, a metaphysical conceit has a startling appropriateness that makes us look at something in an entirely new way.

Metaphysical Poetry:
Of or relating to the poetry of a group of 17th-century English poets whose verse is characterized by an intellectually challenging style and extended metaphors comparing very dissimilar things.

Metaphysical poets tend to rebel against the conventional imagery and rhythms of main stream poetry. Their poems are generally intellectually complex, honest (though in a non-conventional voice) and reflect the writer’s sense of confusion and conflict within themselves and with their surroundings. Their poems also usually sound rough compared to non-metaphysical poetry and can lack lyric smoothness and sense of flow. They tend to use the jumpiness and irregular sounds to reflect their content.

Metaphysical poets also use unusual or shocking imagery to portray their subject.
Because of their unconventionality these poems are generally misunderstood by many readers. They can sometimes find that it is too complex to be sure they’ve gotten the correct impression. This too is something the writer tends to use as a pro rather than a con, further proving to the reader that there are alternate ways of seeing, and voicing the most mundane of ideas.

Metaphysical poetry was a movement started by John Donne, in the 17th century. He was ridiculed for the way he rebelled against the style of poetry written then, and metaphysical poets still experience this same closed-mindedness and misunderstanding on the part of the general public.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 11:05 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 25 March 2005 11:09 AM EST
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Thursday, 24 March 2005
Topic: Subject
What to write about

Poets tend to write about things that they feel strongly about.

Your first job in poetry is to find out what affects you the most. What things have the most emotional effect on you? This may change from day to day, but most poets find they tend to have a theme within their style – mine for example is nature. You will rarely find a poem I’ve written without some mention of nature or use of natural imagery.

The topics you choose might seem trivial, but if they cause a powerful reaction in you, then you will be able to write honestly and strongly about them, and make them seem no longer trivial to your readers.
However, keep in mind that its importance to you personally must be successfully conveyed to the reader.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that strong subject matter equates to strong poetry, you must still fulfill your role as the poet, and convince your reader that this is an important issue as well. This will be more easily accomplished when you feel strongly about the theme yourself.

In other words, once you discover the things that affect you, push it another step. Think carefully about the things that effect you, and figure out why you have that reaction.

You may find that you then have the subject matter for a poem (or, more likely, many poems).

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:15 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:04 PM EST
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Wednesday, 23 March 2005
Topic: Synesthesia
A figure of speech in which a sensory experience is described in the terms of one of the other senses. Synesthesia is also know as "sense transfer" or the confusion of the senses.

There are certain descriptions that we generally think of as a visual image, others that we consider to be a sound or a taste. Writing synesthetic poetry is to decide to convince a reader otherwise. Generally sizzle is a sound, and aural image. Try to make your reader believe it is a flavor, or a color – it isn’t as hard as it sounds once you get the hang of it.

Since I said sizzle, we’ll go with sizzle, but this can be applied to nearly any sensory term you can think of.

Aural – The last errant drop of coffee sizzled on the burner.
Visual – She saw in the distance, through the sizzle of heat rising from the sand, a nomad atop a camel.
Sensory – She smiled knowingly at the sizzle of arousal that perked her nipples to attention.
Smell – She inhaled and the sizzle of ozone filled her nose, metallic and heavy.
Taste – After a month of fasting, he savored the sizzle of bacon on his tongue.

Pick a word, a sensation – any sensory image you can think of, and scramble it. Do something for your readers that most people don’t do, intrigue them. Give them a reaction they’d never otherwise have!

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:05 PM EST
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Tuesday, 22 March 2005
Poetic Forms
Now Playing: Choices Choices!
Topic: Poetic Forms
There are literally hundreds of forms of structured poetry, each presenting its own set of restrictions and requirements. The ones Ive listed are just a sampling of the choices available for structured poetry. I’ve left out more than I’ve included I’m sure. If you have a form you find interesting, fun, or particularly challenging, please, add it as a reply with a description/definition!

Oriental Forms:

Haiku –Haiku is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Because it is so brief, a haiku is necessarily imagistic, concrete & pithy, capturing a single moment in a very few words. The traditional Japanese haiku requires some reference to nature or the season.

Senryu –is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, 17 in all. It is differentiated from Haiku by subject only, being based on human nature rather than mother nature.

Japanese form of five lines with five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables, 31 in all.

definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
A Than-Bauk, conventionally a witty saying or epigram, is a three line "climbing rhyme" poem of Burmese origin. Each line has four syllables. -Preferably one word syllables.
The rhyme is on the fourth syllable of the first line,
the third syllable of the second line,
and the second syllable of the third line.

definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
The Dodoitsu is a fixed folk song form of Japanese origin and is often about love, human nature or humor. It has 26 syllables made of four lines of 7, 7, 7, 5 syllables respectively. It is unrhymed and non-metrical.

Various Other Forms:

an eight-line stanza having just two rhymes and repeating the first line as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second line as the eighth

The villanelle is a poem of 19 lines, five triplets and a quatrain, using only two rhymes throughout the whole form. The entire first line is repeated as lines 6, 12 and 18 and the third line is repeated as lines 9, 15 and 19 -- so that the lines which frame the first triplet weave through the poem like refrains in a traditional song, and form the end of the concluding stanza.

Brought to the West by Victor Hugo, the pantoum is derived from a Malaysian form of interlocking four-line stanzas in which lines 2 and 4 of one stanza are used as lines 1 and 3 of the next. The lines may be of any length, and the poem can go on for an indefinite number of stanzas. Usually the paired lines are also rhymed. The form may be resolved at the end either by picking up lines 1 and 3 of the first stanza as lines 2 and 4 of the last, thus closing the circle of the poem, or simply by closing with a rhymed couplet.

**English (or Shakespearean) sonnet with three quatrains and a concluding couplet, with the scheme abab cdcd efef gg

**Italian: a fourteen-line poem with two sections, an octave (eight-line stanza rhyming abbaabba), and a sestet (six-line-stanza rhyming cddc ee)

**Petrachan: a fourteen-line poem with two sections, an octave (eight-line stanza rhyming abbaabba), and a sestet (six-line-stanza rhyming cdcdcd or cdecde).

****Quatrain: a four-line stanza
****Couplet: a pair of successive rhyming lines, usually of the same length
****Octave: an eight-line stanza or poem
****Sestet: a six-line stanza,

A poem set up so that the first or last letter of each line can be read together as a word or phrase. There are no restrictions or requirements to rhyme scheme, meter or repetition.

A poem that reads the same backward or forward.


Definition and description by Pilgrimage
the form is 1,2,3,4,10 and then if you want to continue, you reverse it. And if you have more to say you reverse it again.

definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables,
the third line seven syllables, etc... until line nine that finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.
line 1 - 9 syllables
line 2 - 8 syllables
line 3 - 7 syllables
line 4 - 6 syllables
line 5 - 5 syllables
line 6 - 4 syllables
line 7 - 3 syllables
line 8 - 2 syllables
line 9 - 1 syllable

definition and description by Red Roses & Wine
The diamonte is fun and easy to write. The purpose is to go from the subject at the top of the diamond to another totally different (and sometimes opposite) subject at the bottom. The structure is:
line 1 - one noun (subject #1)
line 2 - two adjectives (describing subject #1)
line 3 - three participles (ending in -ing, telling about the subject #1)
line 4 - four nouns (first two related to the subject #1, second two related to subject #2)
line 5 - three participles (ending in -ing, telling about subject #2)
line 6 - two adjectives (describing subject #2)
line 7 - one noun (subject #2)

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 9:23 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:07 PM EST
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Monday, 21 March 2005
Topic: Inneundo
1.) an indirect (and usually malicious) implication
2.) a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
3.) a stealthy or indirect hinting or suggestion


Sometimes in poetry it can be interesting to leave things a bit hazy – to hint at things without saying them outright.

This is most often true when the thing to be said is risqué or when you want to convey the idea that there is something more there – something to be read ‘between the lines’. It also helps if you are concerned about offending a certain group of people or your peers.

Too many times we read poetry that feels as though we’ve been spoon fed some unsweetened applesauce. It’s bland, simple, and uninteresting. Innuendo can add a bit of spice and texture to an otherwise boring read, without being crude or boorish. I find it can be a good way to write erotica without being clichéd or overly graphic, or to add humor that might otherwise be offensive. You can also add depth to a piece so that it has a message that can be carried on 2 levels.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 3:13 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:08 PM EST
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Thursday, 17 March 2005
Topic: Inspiration
Get yourself going

We all go through periods of writer's block, when it seems as though there's simply nothing to write, and yet, we need to write. Here are some suggestions as to how to spark your creativity.

One of my favorite things to do is to pull out some old poetry that I've written, and revise/rewrite it. Many times what makes this such a useful exercise is that I remember what inspired me to write the poem in the first place. Trying to tap in to that emotion can be helpful in the creative process.

It's also fun to try to approach the same subject from a different point of view or with a different style of writing and see if I can come up with a whole new poem.

Choose a word or subject and spend 5 minutes writing down all the words/imagery/ideas you get from that word. Don't worry at this point about poetry, just let words and ideas flow. At the end of those 5 minutes, go back through and find what you like, and build on it.


Spend some time looking for a picture that you like. Whether it's a photograph, a painting, a magazine ad, it doesn't matter, just find one that intrigues you on some level, and write a poem inspired by that picture. Another variation of this is to find a movie or television program that interests you. I have written a fair share of poetry based on programs that interested me on the Discovery Channel, but you may be just as inspired by 24 or Law & Order.

Have a favorite singer or genre of music that inspires you? This may be the time to wake up your muse with a song. Try listening to a song that reminds you of a particular time in your life, or that has a mental connection to a particular person or place for you. Songs are poetry set to music, listening to some good lyrics is no different than reading poetry that inspires you.

"Hodgepodge" Poetry
Read other people's poetry, glean ideas, images, or interesting words from various pieces, and build something of your own. Be careful when doing this one, you don't want to plagiarize from someone else, just use them as a spring board.

Go to the Park
Go somewhere that you can be away from your usual every day environment. Take a walk in the woods, a drive in the mountains, a hike in the park – or sit on a park bench for that matter – just remove yourself from the normal setting and see what nature has to offer. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, jot them down, whether in single words, phrases, or whole poems.

Go to the Mall
Do exactly like the afore mentioned suggestion, but go people watching instead. Human Nature can be just as vivid and interesting as Mother Nature.

Magnetic Poetry

Have you ever tried magnetic poetry? It may sound silly and immature, but when you’re running low on words, there’s a whole box of them to play with. The available words may be limited, but you can always build onto whatever ideas are started with the magnetic poetry set. If you don’t have a set, there are sites online that offer similar activities.
(Be careful not to get swindled, has magnetic poetry contests, I love to use their site, but I never submit the poem, because they’re a scam site/vanity press)

Experiment with New Forms
Haiku, Tanka, Rondeau, Sonnet, Concrete Poetry – try something new. Sometimes conforming to the rules of a new form make you forget that you’re out of ideas. Can’t quite meet the requirements of a Patrarchian Sonnet? That’s ok too, revise what you’ve started with – this is your work now, and the important part was to write something – it doesn’t have to stay a sonnet!

Thanks again to Vickie for the help with this one!

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:18 PM EST
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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Poetry Publication Tips
Topic: Publication Tips
So you’ve finally decided to make the next move, to take the next step toward published poet status. You’re ready to send in volumes of your poems to every editor you can find, and are sure that within a matter of weeks, your name and poetic genius will grace the pages of countless publications. You’re almost ready to turn in your final notice at work, right? Before you get carried away, let’s look at how this wealth and fame is to be attained.
Here is a quick summary of some of the things you should do when you get serious about being published. We’ll go into more detail as we get further along. Just remember that the amount of time and energy you spend on laying the groundwork for your submissions is directly reflected in your final product, and is clearly visible to editors, who see hundreds, if not thousands of manuscripts each year. This process is considerably more difficult and time consuming than posting a poem on a poetry website, but in the end, the work will pay off.

* A complete list of poetry publishers is available from The Poetry Library, The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, The Writers' Handbook, and The Poet’s Market. You can get a copy of any of these from the local library. Be sure to get the latest version.

* Start out by sending your work only to established poetry magazines with reputations that won’t make you regret being published in them. Remember, if they accept you, you can use them as future references, or they can come back to haunt you. You want them to be high-quality, respectable credits that you can be proud of.

* Read. Find out what the editor wants. Target magazines that you know frequently include poetry that fits your style.

* Present your work in a professional manner. Hand-written material is unacceptable. Type on one side of the paper only, use additional sheets for each new poem or continuation of a poem. Check for typos and other mistakes before you send anything in. Don't include an explanation of your poetry - good work speaks for itself. Enclose a SASE

* Editors do not need (or want) your complete works. You need only to send a small sample.

* Don't expect an instant reply, it can take months.

* Don't expect a big payment - or any payment at all.

* Consider your earliest publications as experience, and the basis for your growing reputation.

The Manuscript

There are many common mistakes that will guarantee that your work sees nothing more than the inside of an editor’s trash can. Here are some of the standards to which you should adhere to in order to win a chance–
Typeface/Font Style: Always type your poems on a computer (or a good quality typewriter.) Use a clear typeface, Times New Roman and Courier are the best choices here. Your font size should be a consistent, easily read 10 point or 12 point. You can type your title however you prefer. Avoid using all caps, but underlined, boldface, plain text, or any combination is acceptable. Keep in mind that your job is to make the editor's job easier and thereby (hopefully) you’ll stand a better chance of acceptance.
Paper: Use plain white 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Period. No colors, textures, special weights or ornamentation, no cute little teddy bears or decorations – plain white paper.
Page Formatting: Your pages should be uniform. Name and date in the top right (or left) corner of each page. Use the same number of spaces between this and the poem’s title, and between the title and the actual poem on each page. Most publishers are fine with single-spaced stanzas, some insist on double-spacing, so read the guidelines of the publication carefully. Always maintain a one inch margin around each page, and if your poem is long enough to continue from one page to another, number the pages sequentially (1/2, 2/2) in the bottom right hand corner. In the case of a continuation, be sure to note whether or not the page break coincides with a stanza break by adding {stanza break} or {no stanza break.}
Do not add copyright notices on your poetry. This is seen as a direct insult, as though you fear that the editor intends to steal your work. Besides, by law, just typing out your poem automatically copyrights it.

Where to Submit
There are several platforms for poetry publication; these include online e-zines, literary magazines, and newspapers, both local and national. I suggest starting with an e-zine, or one of the smaller literary magazines. Give yourself a chance to build your reputation, and your confidence. Also, they tend to be in need of good work, and thus, are more willing to take a chance on a new poet. They're usually more open to your questions and more tolerant to the mistakes of the inexperienced..
Electronic publications (E-zines)
Electronic publishing is a fairly new market that’s growing with the poetry-online movement. Many poetry magazines have already experimented with web-based archives of back issues.

Some electronic markets:

The Academy of American Poets
The Cortland Review
Ecco Press: The Essential Poets series
Electronic Poetry Review
Poets & Writers Inc. Home Page
Salon Magazine
SEEDS Magazine
Subterranean Press
The University of Chicago Press
Zuzu Petals Quarterly

Yes, electronic publication in an online journal is a perfectly acceptable publication credit and can be used as reference in future submissions. Here again though, check the e-zine’s reputation, visit the site and use your own judgment. Review it with your reputation in mind. Each site has requirements on how to submit, so be sure to visit the site’s submission guideline page.

Some Literary magazines:

Literary periodicals and poetry journals are the other places where newcomers should begin. They're very reputable, especially among literary scholars, so getting published in one is a big deal. Some of the more popular literary magazines are included in this list I found on the web:

American Letters and Commentary·
Antioch Review
DoubleTake Magazine
Fence Magazine
Field Magazine
Five Points
The Journal
Kenyon Review
Literal Latte
The New Criterion
Partisan Review
PN Review
Poetry Calendar
Poetry Magazine
Poetry Review
Poets & Writers Magazine
Stand Magazine
Tin House Literary Journal
Triquarterly Magazine
Verse Magazine

National newspapers tend to be looking for famous poets, and can be hard to get into, but it’s worth the risk of rejection on the off-chance that you get accepted. A newspaper offers a wide readership, and can be a real plus when listed in your credits. You can also start out with smaller locally based newspapers as a beginner’s platform. If nothing else, this will offer you some experience with dealing with editors and the intricacies of being published. Remember that newspaper editors too are looking for insightful, thought-provoking verse that creates a mood or image. Don’t take these publishers any less seriously than any other.

Prepare your portfolio:
There are very specific guidelines you should follow when preparing your poetry portfolio:

Cover Letter: You should include a cover letter unless the publisher has specifically stated that it is undesired. When you create your cover letter, adhere strictly to the guidelines of the publication to which you intend to submit. If there are no guidelines regarding a cover letter, include one anyway -- it can't hurt. It is important to keep the letter brief, succinct, and professional. It should always :

1. Be addressed to the poetry editor or magazine editor by his/her name. No "To Whom it May Concern" Take the time to contact the magazine and find out this information, including the correct spelling.
2. Offer the editor the poems for publication in their journal. Don’t apologize or brag about your work. Don’t sell yourself with personal references from friends, colleagues or family. Don’t ask for feedback on your poetry. Simply state the purpose of the submission.
3. List up to three recent publishing credits (if you have them).
4. Thank the editor for his/her time.

The only circumstances under which you should provide more information:

1. If the editor has previously rejected your work but included a personal note saying that he/she was interested in seeing more of your future work, then mention this in your cover letter.
2.If you're resubmitting work with changes suggested by the editor, then write that you've made the edits and thank the editor for the suggestions.
3. If you are sending poems for a specific issue of the magazine, mention that too.

Your Poems:

You should submit about 5 poems or pages, held together with a paper clip. Do not staple your pages

An SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope): If you want them returned, make sure that you include enough postage for the return of your poems. But always keep a copy of the work you’ve submitted. You’re generally better off to send a business sized envelope and enough postage just for their response. If this is what you choose to do, make sure to let them know that the manuscript in a disposable copy, A SASE makes it more likely that you'll get some kind of response, even if it's a rejection.

Your exterior envelope:
Address your package to the poetry editor by name. Send the package flat in a 9 x 12 inch manila envelope. Don't use a standard business envelope with your poems folded into thirds, it'll make your newbie status all too obvious, and you’ll be taken less seriously. Remember to put enough postage on the exterior of your envelope and make sure that everything looks professional. Use plain labels for the return address, and use boring stamps.

Submitting to more than one market

Never submit a poem that has already been published in any form. This rule even applies if you put the poem on your own homepage -- technically that is also a form of publication, and you don't want to jeopardize your chances.

Technically, you're not allowed to submit the same poems to more than one publication simultaneously. Most first-timers submit to many publications, wait for the first acceptance, and then tell the other publications that he/she would like to withdraw his/her poems from consideration. It's technically wrong, but sometimes you have to get cutthroat.

Keep track of your submissions!
In order to avoid confusion and the perils of forgetfulness, you should keep a record of what poems you have submitted to which publications. Note also the date they were submitted, whether or not you’ve received a response, and what that response was. Once a poem has been rejected by one publication, you are free to resubmit it to another. This also serves as a list of publication credits for quick reference.

Now that we’ve covered all of that, submit, but don’t quit your day job.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 10:50 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:13 PM EST
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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Concrete Poetry
Topic: Concrete poetry
Concrete Poetry
Poetry that visually conveys the poet's meaning through the graphic arrangement of letters, words, or symbols on the page.

Also known as:

Pattern Poetry
Poetry in which the letters, words, and lines are configured in such a way that the poem's printed appearance on the page forms a recognizable outline related to the subject, thus conveying or extending the meaning of the words.

Her lips part slightly to meet rime encrusted goblet;
chords of Beethoven dance with rainbowed teardrops
in the halo cast by candlelight and crystal. She shivers
with sad satisfaction as a Zinfandel cascade glides
smoothly down and tongue is washed
in bitter sweetness. She feels
the chill transferred
to soul,
a repeat
performance of dinner for two, alone

Concrete poetry, if nothing else, is fun to do. It’s a mixture of written and visual art, where the writer has to decide on a shape/visual presentation that would compliment the poem’s internal message. It tends to make the author think about what’s really necessary to say with the correct amount of words, in order to achieve the shape they strive for. You can start with an idea for a poem and decide beforehand what ‘picture’ you’d like to end up with, and write the poem accordingly, or vice versa – idea first, which would then dictate the shape.
Either way you do it, it can be a lot of fun, and is a great exercise when you’re experiencing writer’s block.

There are certain forms of poetry that, by way of syllable count, also create concrete poetry, such as the Tetractys, which I recently commented resembled a newspaper hat, and the Diamonte, which is a diamond shape. These are forms you may want to explore if concrete poetry sounds interesting to you.

The ‘wine glass’ above was taken from a collection of poems I wrote some years ago.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 5:51 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:17 PM EST
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Monday, 14 March 2005
Topic: K.I.S.S.
Keep it simple stupid!

Keep it simple!
Observe the old rule - when in doubt, leave it out. Remember what’s called the ‘KISS principle’ (keep it simple, stupid) Salespeople use it, and so should you: If customers don't understand them, they won't make the sale. The same rule of thumb applies to poetry, and your “customers,” your readers.
Shoot for clarity.
Fanciness leads to pretentiousness, and pretentiousness puts readers to sleep – not the effect you’re looking for, unless you’re writing a lullaby.Clarity is critical for keeping a reader’s interest. Write about one thing and stick to the subject.
Use short sentences.
Use about 15 – 20 words per sentence. Keep your subject and verb together. That way, you won't confuse your readers. And you won't confuse yourself. Concise sentences are easier to follow and less likely to muddle the subject.
Avoid run-on sentences and excess commas
Average one idea in each sentence, just like the ‘one idea per poem’ concept. If you only have one idea, you don't to worry about commas and semicolons. Try not to put more than two ideas in the same sentence. If your rhythm is better served by a pause (or you have some other reason to forego a period) consider using and, or but to join the two sentences.
No fragments!
Make sure every sentence has a subject and a verb, and remember words that end with -ing (gerunds and participles) aren't always verbs. Be especially careful of words like although, as, after, before, because, if, that, unless, until, when, which, who, etc. They turn complete sentences into fragments.
Write like you talk.
Use the subject-verb-object type of sentence that science has proven most effective for the average reader. Let the sentence patterns of common speech work for you, not against you. Put the important first in each sentence where your reader needs it.
Read your writing out loud
Listen to the sound of the words. You'll catch more errors this way. You’ll also get a feel for the flow, rhythm and cadence. In an effective poem, your reader ‘hears’ the poem in his mind, you want to know exactly what it is he’ll hear, reading the poem out loud to yourself is the best way to do that.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 9:26 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:22 PM EST
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Sunday, 13 March 2005
The Politics of Web Poetry
Topic: Politics of Web Poetry
The innovation of the internet and the birth of the poetry communities on the web have created opportunities and complications for all who have discovered them.
In the days of paper and pen, finding literary interaction was a bit harder. Receiving any sort of reaction to your work was much less accessible - typically restricted to fellow students in writing classes, or the occasional trusted friend or relative.

With the technological advance of the information super highway comes obstacles, bumps in the road that were unforeseeable. One of these, in my opinion, is the politics of message board replies - not enough, too many, and those colored by favoritism. If the poetry world is to become more than what it is through this contact, reader reaction is to be the key. However I find that human nature overcomes the sensibilities of discipline where this is concerned. Many times, general attitudes prevail that impair the creative process when performed online.

We all know that not every post on web boards is a work of genius. This is true on two levels. Either the piece doesn't fit into your preferred style, and is therefore distasteful to you in particular, or the piece lacks poetic device/style or includes grammatical errors and typos. So, there are often times when a reader must choose his words carefully when reading another's work. When the piece you're reading seems to have little or no artistic value, for whatever reason, what do you do?

There are three choices:

One can back out quietly, in hopes that no one has noticed your arrival, and make no comment at all. This is known as the 'ignore them and they'll go away' syndrome. After all we wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, right? This, unfortunately, only tends to encourage a wider spreading of the distasteful work. A writer, at whatever skill level, can only improve if someone informs him that he needs to. In ignoring him, he will, indeed, move on. He'll move on to post his poetry at every board he can find. Without interaction from other, more-seasoned writers, without outside opinions of his work, he is destined to continue to write badly. I ask you, what effect does this have on the poetry community as a whole to have this phenomenon continue? Surely, you can't think it positive.

"The fact that no one understands you does not make you an artist." --unknown

One can find some meaningless commentary to make, after all, if you respond to him, surely he'll reply to you - poetic back-scratching. This is a variation of the above-mentioned syndrome, only worse. Now he has what he views as 'fans' and feels completely justified in continuing to run rampant through the net, posting objectionable poetry. He finds it within his rights to justify grammatical errors, lack of understanding of poetic device, improper word usage, and will often be found on the righteous indignation soap-box loudly protesting the idea that poetry be held to such standards at all. I'm sure we've all heard how poetry should be written from the heart, and how technicalities aren't important, rather, what matters is how you feeeeel.
This, my fellow writers, is the start of why web poets and poetry sites tend to be held in disdain within the literary community at large. It marks the beginning of the reputation we have earned for being undisciplined and uneducated. In praising those who do not deserve it, we may save his feelings, but in the end, we're only hurting ourselves.

"Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability." --Roy L Smith

We may offer constructive criticism in an effort to help him learn and improve. This is where we take the opportunity to reclaim our good names, the chance to better our standing within the literary community.
Soothe him by pointing out a redeeming quality or two, and then make use of the moment to share your knowledge. Don't sugarcoat your commentary, and inversely, don't tear into him like a pit bull. Your tone decides whether or not he'll listen, or become defensive. A defensive listener hears nothing - meaning you'll be wasting your time.

'Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger" --Franklin P. Jones

Help him to grow. Start with commentary on the technical mechanics of the English language. Explain the merits of using punctuation, grammar, or proper capitalization. This is more effective if explained in such a way as to lend him the idea that by doing so, he'll receive more input. Avoid the appearance of being dogmatic or arrogant. Move on, if possible, to explain the finer points of poetry, such as line breaks, stanza separations, metaphor, etc. Explain the negative effects of clichés, gerunds, or whatever you found to be ineffective in the piece.

Generally speaking, poetry is often viewed as an art to be taken lightly. Every ounce of respect we get is one we've earned through hard work, proofreading, editing and revision - through endless hours of carving polished art from an unrecognizable jumble of letters and words. None of us is beyond improvement; each of us has room to grow. And isn't that the point of internet contact in the first place - because who better to teach us, than each other?

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:27 PM EST
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Saturday, 12 March 2005
Passive vs. active voice
Topic: Passive vs Active
Who dunnit?

The English language has two voices, active and passive. When the subject of the sentence performs the action of the verb, it is said to be active. In a passive sentence, the subject is not performing the action of the verb, another noun in the sentence is performing the action on/to the subject.

Active Ex:
Erin wrote this sentence.
‘Erin’ is the subject, she performed the action – Erin wrote.

Passive Ex:
This sentence was written by Erin.
‘Erin’ is no longer the subject, ‘sentence’ is now the subject, but the ‘sentence’ isn’t performing the action, ‘Erin’ is.

Active sentences are more powerful because they’re shorter. Passive sentences use an average of 35% more words. Fewer words make a more direct, concise statement. Active sentences are also easier to read and understand. Passive sentences, in addition to using more words, use more weak words, such as demonstrative pronouns (the), prepositions (by, of) and the weaker passive (to be) form of the verb.

For a potent poem, or any other form of writing, use well-built sentences. The strong verbs, solid nouns and clear descriptions add to the strength of any writing project. Using passive sentences consistently will ensure that your writing is less direct, bogged down under weak words, and unfailingly ineffectual.
There are times that passive voice is acceptable, such as when you want to hide who performed the action in the sentence, which may preserve a sense of surprise for the end of the piece. Used carefully, it can add suspense, such as when used in a sentence like, “My heart has been broken.” If used in a poem where you’d like to surprise your reader with the fact that your heart was broken by some unusual person (or thing perhaps) then this may work for you. Just take care not to be too passive, or your reader may never make it to the twist at the end, because they feel confused by the passivity and wordiness.
There have been studies that show that the human mind is more apt to retain information written in the active voice format. One thing most writers hope to achieve is to make their reader remember their work. This is particularly true when submitting work to a publisher.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:19 PM EST
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Friday, 11 March 2005
Free Verse
Topic: Free Verse
What, exactly, does that mean?

Someone posted a thread recently about free verse. It was a quote that basically defined what free verse is, and someone else replied, wanting a deeper explanation. I find that many writers don’t quite understand what the term free verse means.

Free Verse:
Unrhymed verse without a consistent metrical pattern

Free verse is exactly that, free verse – poetry that is written without
proper rules about form, rhyme, rhythm, or meter. This term is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as blank verse. Blank verse is similar, in that it doesn’t have to rhyme, but blank verse is written in iambic pentameter.

Free verse is a term loosely used for rhymed or unrhymed verse made
free of conventional and traditional limitations and restrictions about metrical structure. Cadence is often substituted for regular metrical pattern. There is no line count or required repetition.

There is no technical rule applied to it whatsoever, other than the grammatical rules that apply to all writing, and many choose to forego those as well.

Free verse tends to remain rhythmic though not strictly metered, the rhythm or cadence of free verse varies throughout the poem. Though the words don't rhyme, they flow along their own uneven pattern.

Some writers feel more comfortable within the restrictions of poetic forms that have specific requirements. They are reassured by rules that let them know they have fulfilled those requirements, as if someone has told them what to do, and they know they’ve done it. Free verse is, in a sense, more difficult, at least in the way of knowing you’ve done it “right.”

Most writers, therefore, tend to start with more restricted forms, particularly with rhyming poetry, and progress, as they feel more confident, into free verse poetry. Just as poetry itself had to progress into free verse, most writers have to ‘grow’ into it, a sort of micro-evolution of each individual within the free verse movement.

The greatest American writer of free verse was probably Walt Whitman. His Leaves of Grass was published in 1855. It was a major experiment in free verse poetry.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:30 PM EST
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Thursday, 10 March 2005
Topic: Vocabulary
It’s 11 o’clock, do you know where your thesaurus is?

One of the defining devices of poetry is vocabulary. Poetry is a distinct and determined effort to avoid common language. The very building blocks of our entire field of literature is vocabulary -- new words, beautiful words, uncommon, unusual an interesting words, more words than most of us keep stored in our minds. This means that when we can’t find a ‘good’ enough word in our own brains, we must strive to find one elsewhere.

This is where the thesaurus comes in. I personally find mine indispensable. I can honestly say that the most prized gift I’ve received from my husband in 13 years of birthdays and Christmases was the thesaurus he gave me a few years ago. I have since worn it to the same condition as the one I had been using at the time; it’s pages are bent and dog-eared, the cover is scuffed, the binding is broken, and I love it. (I wonder if he knew then how many brownie points he would earn himself with a ten dollar gift?)

The significance of vocabulary is indescribable. I doubt I can offer any more valuable advice to poetry writers than to advise them to expand their vocabulary base. The thesaurus is an excellent tool to aid in this expansion. There are innumerable synonyms for most every word in our language, and hundreds of thousands of them lie waiting, like buried gold, in its pages. But you have to be careful when using a thesaurus to use words with the correct intonation and mood, and to employ them properly as far as inverting the usage. Be careful not to sound as if you opened the thing and used the first synonym you came across.
Try to avoid using words that are so obscure that your reader has no idea what the word means.

I also advise you to read. Read, a lot, read poetry and fiction and non-fiction and newspapers and novels, just READ! Sign up for “word of the day” email notices (such as they have at ) Keep a dictionary handy, for the times when you read or hear a word you don’t know the definition of. Another activity I enjoy that also exposes you to new words is completing the daily crossword puzzle.

Regardless of how you do it, make a conscious effort to learn new words as often as possible, and definitely make use of a thesaurus. If you don’t own a copy of one, you can buy a copy for about $10, and until you do, there are several online to make use of ( and are two that come immediately to mind.) Also, most word processing programs have one bundled in with their tools – use it.

Posted by poetry/emonahan at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005 10:32 PM EST
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