How to Write Bad Poetry
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."--Oscar Wilde
People write poetry for a plethora of reasons, but this article has a sharpened arrowhead aimed directly at the fingertips of amateur poets who wish to be published yet refuse to learn the attributes of a well-crafted poem. These poets are the ones who plop their pieces, shining with every beam of ambiguity, vagueness and hackney, into cyberspace for review. I have encountered a few of these poets to whom I have given a courteous critique, only to be backhanded in the face by sore comments such as, "You must be too dense to get it," or "Everyone I know tells me how great I am. You're the only one?"
Of course I am usually left wondering why someone would care to post a poem in a critique forum if any constructive comment given to the poet gets immediately flushed down the cyber-potty. Many new poets seem to think that writing a poem is one hundred percent emotion. They overlook the notion that, as with any craft, poetry entails a good deal of practice and learning as well as desire and talent. So instead of writing about the importance of concrete imagery, figurative language, and the art of minimizing abstractions, I thought it might be fun, (and might even tick a few people off) to write a small compendium of attributes of bad poetry.
Recipe for a Really Bad Poem
- A bad poem should not have any original language. If you aim to write a bad poem, avoid coming up with stark images. The last thing you would want to do is write something fresh, innovative, and evocative. Use as many hackneyed expressions as possible, such as "crystal clear," "dark as ebony," "blue as the sky," "dark as night," "?paints a picture," "climb the highest mountain," Etc.
- An especially bad poem should be heavily weighted with abstract words such as "heart," "love" "sadness," "despair," "hate," and "destiny." The more abstract and generalized your poem, the better suited it will be to mean absolutely nothing to the reader. Aim for zero concrete images if you want a particularly bad poem. For example, "The world is a sorrowful place/ filled with sadness and hate?blah blah blah." Also, be sure to TELL the poet how to describe something by using superfluous abstract adjectives! "The water is pretty;" "The world is ugly;" "His eyes were beautiful?" A bad poem should never use figurative language or descriptive imagery to SHOW the reader a slice of life.
- No matter how odd the sentence becomes, or how unlikely the phrase would be concocted in normal language, make it RHYME. Rhyme anyway!! That's right, a bad poem is going to have very forced rhyme. If you have to rearrange the structure of a sentence just to make the rhyme fit, go for it! For example: "The apple blossoms fell in May/ on the grassy field is where they lay." (Notice how I just couldn't say, "They lay on the grassy field?" That wouldn't rhyme, so I had to make up a funky sentence.
- Don't worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. What you really want to do is to make the reader scratch her head and read it a zillion times trying to figure out what it means. Bad spelling and poor grammar will really detract from the meaning, so get reckless with your words. Try this poem out for size:
i watch as the sun/ sets over the horisen/ the ocean pants/ like a wild monster/ breaths with heavy/ breath and then falls/ something small/ always gets lost/ in the mouth/ of agony
u r reel speciol/ like honi sweet/ from a candy bee.
- A good practice for a cleverly bad poet is to make the objects of the poem plural! Globalize your subject for an incredibly weak impact! "Trees are?" "People cry?" "Flowers bloom?" By pluralizing all the objects of the poem, you are blurring the imagery, thus making it sappy, intangible, and simply boring.
Frequently Asked Questions of bad poets who want to be published but don't want to work:
Q. Who are you to judge what a good poem is? A poem is like beauty; it is in the eye of the beholder!
A. Paul Valery once said, "a poem is never finished, only abandoned." You have to work on your poem. You have to find a certain clarity that will reach the reader. Sometimes we get so fogged up with our own emotions, we don't really see the true poem. Emotional outpours make excellent first drafts, but if you don't go any further then that, you aren't working hard enough to make your poem good-even in your own eyes. Also, as far a judging a poem is concerned, as long as you hope to publish your poetry, it will get judged. Know what these "judgers" are looking for.
Q. If clichés were so bad, why have they been around for so long?
A. Exactly!! Everyone understands clichés-almost to the point where they don't even mean anything anymore. Poetry is an art of expression and exposition. If you are too lazy to come up with the images yourself, then you aren't really writing poetry.
Q. I write poetry for personal reasons. It is my way of dealing with the world. Why should I care what you think about poetry?
A. You shouldn't. Unless you are trying to perfect your craft so that you can express yourself through literature in some publication, you can write any way you want. Just know, though, that if you post your poem for critique, you might get some honest criticism based on poetic technique. If that is not what you are looking to get, please let people know what you are looking to get.
Devrie Paradowski is a freelance writer and poet. Her poetry has been published by several literary journals and she has written dozens of articles for various publications including "Poetry Renewal Magazine," and "Poetryscams.com." She is the author of the chapbook, "Something In the Dirt," which can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/108560 . In 2001, Devrie founded a popular online literary community ( http://www.LiteraryEscape.com ) that has become highly respected for some of the most honest and in-depth poetic critique on the Internet. In keeping with her commitment to inspire amateur writers to hone their skills, she also founded a local writer's group called, "The Fire and Ice Writer's Group."
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I WANTED TO SAY IT WITH A BUNCH OF FLOWERS A CARD WOULD HAVE SUFFICED.I WANTED TO SAY IT WITH A PACK OF SWEETS A' HI' WOULD HAVE SUFFICED.
Uamaks Aquatic [suspense: now in Spanish and English]
Delicately, my mind was selecting a muffled tune, out of the dead dark empty space surrounding me?I saw a shape on a rock, not sure who it was; I had a sensitivity though, a feeling call it, or second-sight; I've heard that before, not sure if I want to put a lot of credence into it, but so be it, the sensitivity and numbness was there. I didn't' sense any danger in the moment, in the moonlit figure, sitting on the rocks, lurking, looking out into the deep.
Shaking out the Rugs [Following the Poet]
Let's follow the poet to his Hell and heaven! Count his Ghosts and dilemma's?Reach out to touch his Stretched-out skies; let's follow The poet to see where he lays.Let's follow the poet to his end; To see if he can?whatever He wants to do, do over again?.
Mother, I Dont Mind The Pain
I am among those who know that one never recovers from the loss of one deeply loved. We come to accept the death and adjust our lives - rather begrudingly, but we do not recover, we survive.
A Case of The Fears
Chicken Soup is good for a coldSleep is good for the FluWhen I get a case of the FearsWhat is a person to do?It is not bacteriaAlthough it can eat away my soulIt is not a virusYet, it can keep me from feeling wholeI know what will do the trick,What will put me back on top,A great big bowl of Ice CreamWill really hit the spotThat was great and now I am doneOne bowl just won't doIf one is good, then more is greatAnd now I have eaten two.Bowls three, four, five and sixCame and then they wentI think my case of the fears are fixedLook at how my time was spentI am getting sleepyIt is time to go to bedMy fears are no longer in my stomachNow they are in my headI close my eyes and I can seeThe Fears I want to killI will do, whatever it takesTo keep the monsters still.
Two Poems on the Traditions of Peru [in English and Spanish]
Atahualpa's Game [Peruvian]Sometimes, it's not wise To share your wisdom ---as did, Atahualpa (The Inca King) in the Game of chess; thereafter, He was condemned to death.6/6/05 #713Note: Atahualpa, was the most famous of the Inca Kings, in the 16th century of Peru, I do relieve, and was held for ransom by the Spaniards.
Three Poems (While in Transition/English and Spanish)
Here are three more poems by the author, Dennis Siluk, while traveling througout Central and South America.Three Poems While in Transition (In Spanish and English)Poem OneEnglish VersionOrange Timid MoonOŽer the Copan skyan arch of shadows weave their webswith low-lights, as the moon rises.
Three Poems: Dona Leonors Revenge; The Old Moon; Common Sides [All in Spanish/all in English]
1) Dońa Leonor's Revenge [1627 AD]Rafael Ortiz's fate Was on the plate Of Dońa Leonor'sWhen she arrived In Lima, Peru; To taste revengeFor the beheading Of her husband. And so the plot?was now played out (in an alleyway) As she gutted her trout!In SpanishTranslated by Nancy PenalozaLa leyenda de: La venganza de dońa Leonor (1627 después de cristo)El destino de Rafael Ortiz Estaba sobre el plato De dońa Leonor.
Tsunami -a Poem Dedicated To Help Aid and Awareness and Encourage Future Harmony. Make Peace Not War
Real Power.One Tsunami, and all our armies, Seem belittled by their wars, What Animals fled, and tribesmen read, Finally Arrives with crushing roar, Wholesale slaughter, purely by water, Makes us seem an irrelevance, Concepts of power, change by the hour, Faced with primal elements.
I never thought I would have to say GOODBYE to my best friend? But that's what I had to do today I had to let go of her forever -There was no other way For me to face reality Or pretend to be okay I had no concept -Of how hard it would be To actually let go Of this huge part of me? Not tomorrow or ever -Will my life be the same Without my Grannio here Life seems to be a game - Of chance and questions?Questions that never end And have no answers That can begin to mend The gaping hole inside of meNor come close to healing My heart and soul that Seem to be feeling Lost, numb and empty-Completely hollow? Like I have nobody left To really follow - Through life with respectShe was so much more Than my Grandmother I knew that before She left this earthAnd I told her so More than once or twice Because she had to know Just how very special -And truly blessed I felt to have her as my friend She was the best Without a doubt -My Grannio gave me More than anybody Will ever really see? It was an unspoken -Kind of love That came with no conditions And went far above The normal caringAnd average support For a grandchild - Or family of any sort She gave more of herselfTo me than anyone In my life ever will Nobody could have done What she did for meWith so much devotion, Absolute honesty And true emotion? Her loyalty was -Sincerely undying I realize so much Now that I'm crying - And wishing thatI had just one more day To spend holding her hand And trying to take away Her fears and her pain -That took over her Body and her mind Like never before? In our lives -I would have sincerely Given 20 years of my life To have her merely Be here tomorrow -I cannot explain The way I feel today Or how much I pain Is inside of me -That will never go away No matter how much time passes I know this ache will stay With me forever?Just as her special touch Will always be with me And mean so very much - To me and my son?Jakob Thomas Her "BabyDoll" And I promise To never forget -What she would have done If she was still here For him - her only one Great-grandchild?Resource Box - © Danielle Hollister (2004) is the Publisher of BellaOnline Quotations Zine - A free newsletter for quote lovers featuring more than 10,000 quotations in dozens of categories like - love, friendship, children, inspiration, success, wisdom, family, life, and many more. Read it online at - http://www.
The Treasure of Catalina Huanca (In English and Spanish)
Note: written after seeing the little adobe 16th century church San Sebastian, in San Jeronimo, by the mountains of Huancayo, Peru, after being taken there by the Wandering Quechua guide, Enrique (4-13-2005).The Treasure of Catalina HuancaWritten by Dennis L.
New Poetic Work By Ethiopian Immigrant Promotes Respect, Courage And Cultural Sensitivity
McLean, VA - "The Healing Conscious" tells the story of an Ethiopian immigrant boy on his fascinating journey to America and adulthood. Author Kifle Bantayehu, a 23 year-old second-generation Ethiopian immigrant, recounts this poignant tale in poetic format.
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