10 Essential Rules of Poetry

If you write poems, then you’re a poet. Simple as that. But if you want to be more than an unknown versifier who hides poems in a shoe box, here are 10 guidelines for making your mark.
Author:
Publish date:

1. KEEP THE POETRY COMING. Paint-ers paint, teachers teach, and poets poem. To excel at writing poetry, you need to flex your poetic muscles daily, even if it’s just revising an earlier work.

2. READ POETRY BY OTHERS. Too many poets worry that their voices will be influenced by the voices of other poets. Don’t fall into this trap. You need to study what you like and do not like from other poets and use that as inspiration for your own work.

3. STUDY POETIC FORMS. While you may decide against publishing sonnets, sestinas and haiku, trying various forms can only help your poetic development. After all, the form of a poem (even free verse) is the skeleton and skin that holds the content together for the reader.

*****

The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

*****

4. ATTEND OPEN MICS. Performing is optional, but poets should at least listen to the spoken word occasionally. Poetry is as much an oral as a visual genre of writing. As such, it benefits a poet to understand the sounds of poetry. Plus, open mics are great for meeting other poets.

5. EXPERIMENT. Is there a poetic “rule” you just don’t like? Try breaking it. Then, look for other rules to bend. Often, the poets who are remembered and quoted are the ones who learned to do something well and then took it in a new direction.

10 Essential Rules of Poetry, Robert Lee Brewer

6. REVISE. While there are exceptions, the best poems are written through the revision process. This is a great stage for experimenting. And if a crazy revision doesn’t work (removing all the adverbs just to see what happens?), simply revert to the last draft.

(5 ways to revise poems.)

7. CONNECT WITH OTHER POETS. Go to readings, workshops, conferences, social media sites and anywhere else you can connect. Other poets can help keep you motivated to write and submit.

8. SHARE YOUR WORK. Give your poems to friends and family as gifts. Share good collections you’ve read. Remember: As a poet, you are an ambassador of poetry to those who are afraid to read it or think it’s something they just don’t “get.”

9. SUBMIT. Consult a resource like Poet's Market (which I edit) and submit your poems to publications. Through the simple act of following guidelines and receiving feedback (whether through acceptance or rejection), you’ll learn to target an audience and revise appropriately.

10. PUBLISH ON YOUR OWN. Take a do-it-yourself stance to sharing your best work.

Pamela Korgemagi: On Trusting the Editorial Process

Pamela Korgemagi: On Trusting the Editorial Process

Author Pamela Korgemagi discusses how the editorial process helped her debut novel, The Hunter and the Old Woman, become the best version of itself.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Back to the Grind

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Back to the Grind

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, place your character back in their normal routine.

Breaking Out of the Box

Breaking Out of The Box

First comes publishing, then comes expectation. Internationally bestselling author Allison Larkin discusses breaking free of constraints to find the right home for her new novel, The People We Keep.

Sara Nisha Adams: On the Celebration of Reading in Literary Fiction

Sara Nisha Adams: On the Celebration of Reading in Literary Fiction

Debut author Sara Nisha discusses the impact of growing up reading on her writing as an adult.

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2021

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2021

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 576

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a back to blank poem.

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Christina Wyman discusses how for children who suffer difficult family dynamics, seeing their experiences reflected in books is few and far between.

the island

The Island

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, build yourself an island.

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed discusses how his personal experiences acted as the impetus for his new book, Radiant Fugitives, and how it went from novella to novel.