Writing Better Poetry

I am in a discussion with a friend who says she has never written poetry in her life but she’s going to begin now. Go Silvia! That’s the spirit!

The best advice I’ve ever heard about becoming a better writer is this: To write better, read more.

This holds true for any kind of writing. Read and read and read some more. What’s going to happen is that you’ll start your very own *Three Pile System* to sort the writing you are ingesting.

Pile #1 Stuff to be ignored. This pile may be golden fleece to some, but to you, it just doesn’t vibrate as something of great value. It’s the Universe telling you to “Let it go, Elsa.” Move along…

Pile #2 Interesting bits to contemplate. Like crows are drawn to shiny objects, poets/writers are highly attracted to clever turns of phrases and memorable descriptors. These are the bits and bobs we tuck away to use as future inspiration for our own word crafting.

Pile #3 Ecstatic Revelations. These are those magical pieces that bring the tears, the clenching of the heart muscle, the gazing off in the distance while your mind rolls the words around again and you marvel at the poets deft hand in its creation.

Super long story short- Your collection in Pile #3 are the styles of writing that best suit you. This is the native language of your internal country. And if you grab a pen and start journaling your thoughts that way, your true writer’s voice will begin to emerge.

I know now that every time I tried to write something in a stuffy (to me) iambic pentameter or adhering to hard and fast rules about format, what emerged was garbage, because it just wasn’t my style of writing. You need to find your Poetry Hero out in the wide world and read everything they wrote. Then find a few others who write in the same style and study them as well. And then grab than blank paper and let your own words fly.

My style is closer to how I speak; free form and spiced with images that make some people uncomfortable, others intrigued and still others, humored. It’s my own truth.

Now, you need to go find your own truth and say hello. Then drag that person out so we can meet them as well.

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” – Emily Dickinson

Some of my personal Poetry Heroes, long gone and contemporary…

Nikita Gill- https://meanwhilepoetry.tumblr.com/

Mary Oliver- https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver

Charles Bukowski- https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/charles-bukowski

Hafiz, especially the Daniel Ladinsky translations found in The Gift, a 1999 publication available through Penguin Compass.

By the way, Hafiz said that a poet is someone who can pour light into a cup.

Yeah, he was my spirit animal.

Send an email with your own writing advice or your favorite poets and I’ll share it here!

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