“If you are writing a poem because you want to capture a feeling that you experienced, then you don’t need these tips. Just write whatever feels right. Only you experienced the feeling that you want to express, so only you will know whether your poem succeeds.
If, however, your goal is to communicate with a reader — drawing on the established conventions of a literary genre (conventions that will be familiar to the experienced reader) to generate an emotional response in your reader — then simply writing what feels right to you won’t be enough. (See also “Poetry is for the Ear” and “When Backwards Newbie Poets Write“)
“These tips will help you make an important transition:
- away from writing poetry to celebrate, commemorate, or capture your own feelings (in which case you, the poet, are the center of the poem’s universe)
- towards writing poetry in order to generate feelings in your reader (in which case the poem exists entirely to serve the reader).
- Know Your Goal
- Avoid Clichés
- Avoid Sentimentality
- Use Images
- Use Metaphor and Simile
- Use Concrete Words Instead of Abstract Words
- Communicate Theme
- Subvert the Ordinary
- Rhyme with Extreme Caution
- Revise, Revise, Revise