Poetry Information

Rules for Writing Poetry

You've been writing poetry since that first assignment in your high school writing class. You know the rules about writing poetry, right? Are there rules? Well, if you frequent the poetry forums across the Internet as much as I do, you'd find that there are a lot of amateur poets who adamantly declare that there are no rules for writing poetry and if someone even suggests reading poetry or books on poetry, many of the amateur poets will throw up a defensive front. My opinion seems to swing fervently toward the opposition. You have to know the rules before you break them; at least that's what I always say.

I know that writing a sonnet in iambic pentameter is an art that has been buried in the tombs of the renaissance, but understanding it, along with the numerous other dying closed forms of poetry, is a powerful tool when writing that prosy contemporary piece. Being a great poet demands an intricate understanding of the way in which language works its edges into a reader's conscience. A poem is a mosaic of sounds, syncopations, and images. All of the little fragments of a poem must work together in a unified fashion to culminate in something refreshing and new.

Refreshing and new? Well, you might wonder how understanding such archaic attributes of poetry such as meter and rhyme might help a contemporary poet craft a refreshing new poem. It is all about the sound and the innovation of it. Even scientists stand on the shoulders of those before them. You don't have to manage a perfect rhyme or a measured foot in a poem to be jumping from the inspiration of Shakespeare's sonnets, but having those rhythms and rhymes teetering in and out of the wrinkles in your brain will send a very subtle vibration of sound through your very own pieces.

In summary, read, read, read, know the rules, and then break the rules. Goodness help you, please break them.

Here are some references to help you along the way:


The Practice of Poetry: by Robin Behn

Writing Poems: by Robert Wallace and Michelle Boisseau

A Poetry Handbook: by Mary Oliver






-And don't forget to read some contemporary poetry:



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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New York Times

She Dared to Write Poetry About Sex. Iranians Loved and Hated Her for It.
New York Times
Farrokhzad was Iran's most celebrated — and controversial — female poet, and Darznik, the Iranian-born author of the memoir “The Good Daughter,” recreates her sexual and creative liberation while exploring the threat she posed to social order in ...


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Asian American Studies program creates literary journal and poetry contest
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Art and activism have long worked in tandem. In its 15th year, University of Minnesota's Asian American Studies Program is bolstering that connection. By establishing a literary journal and opening a poetry contest, the program allows students, faculty ...

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Before his death in 2015, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet collaborated with saxophonist Benjamin Boone in the recording studio. The results have finally been released as The Poetry Of Jazz.
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Central Michigan Life

RSO helps students express emotions, find confidence through poetry
Central Michigan Life
Each Word Hammer meeting features either a prompt for the poet to write in about only a few minutes to perform, a freestyle session where poets can read their own poems or well-known poet's poems, or workshops that focuses on mastering certain poetry ...

San Francisco Chronicle

State Lines: California poetry: Indigo Moor's 'Never Let You Go'
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Two figures star in Indigo Moor's new book, “In the Room of Thirsts and Hungers.” One is Shakespeare's Othello. The other is Paul Robeson, remembered chiefly for his acting, singing and political activism that landed him on Hollywood's blacklist during ...

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Red Room Poetry fellowship 2018 shortlist announced
The fellowship selection panel said of the shortlist: 'The diversity of form shown in this shortlist is a great representation of Australian poetry and what the Red Room fellowship is doing to support poets across styles, cultures and career stages ...

Waco Tribune-Herald

Beall Poetry Festival begins with prize-winners' readings, discussions
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A poet who is an expert in Bob Marley reggae lyrics, a former National Endowment for the Arts chairman and a prize-winning Vanderbilt University professor highlight the lineup of this year's Beall Poetry Festival, which runs Wednesday through Friday at ...

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San Francisco Chronicle

State Lines: California poetry: Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 'I Am Waiting ...
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 99 March 24. His list of achievements — as a publisher and owner of City Lights bookstore, as a poet, painter and extraordinary citizen — could span the length of this page. He is one of the few American ...

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New York Times

Mary Gordon & Glenda Jackson Talk Poetry, Theater and the State of Feminism
New York Times
This spring brings Jackson back to Broadway, starring in the revival of Edward Albee's 1991 play “Three Tall Women,” which opens March 29, about a woman recalling her life's great triumphs and regrets. One morning in January in Manhattan, Gordon ...

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