Notes on Writing Poems


Robert Bly says: using over 15 syllables in one line causes it to break down, avoid my own prosaic nature, avoid lifeless popular language, to not be obsessed with fact, and avoid the tenancy to lie about myself.

A poem is a whole of interconnected parts, a spider web; touch one part of the poem, and the whole work responds. Frost says that poetry is something that is untranslatable. It cannot be paraphrased, dissected, or deconstructed without losing meaning and beauty.

Do not rely only on powerful feelings and truths to carry a poem. Play with words, be curious, don’t concentrate on being so original, having the poem be an extension of a persona.

Form is a pattern of recurrences. Use rhythm and shape of words on the page to engage senses directly. Use rhythm to call attention to specific words. Organic form shapes as the poem develops from within.

Choose the words of a poem so that each word lives. Learn technical words of various trades to compile a ready supply of words and images with specific richness and expressiveness.