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."
Three Sweet Poems, and Two Not So Sweet [now in: SPANISH and English]
1) End Poem
Infected Ideologies [a Poetic Portrait]
the disease of extremismis infectious-;whoever cannot think oftheir childgrowing up without itis part of the phenomenon! (the choice of the day).fanaticism,--with a powerful ideologyare seeds for suicide!murder: givingreasons to rage!...ask:leninistchehitlerbin ladenthey will show youto a nobleact of death!...(that is what they say).throw out:poverty,the disadvantaged-save the ideology,that is the infected,the choice!?
Burning Autumn Leaves [a poem in Spanish and English]
Burning Autumn Leaves[1950s in St. Paul, Minnesota]
Poetry in Turbulence
To many non-specialists of literature, poetry is deeply unsatisfying. There are several reasons for this, but two in particular come to mind. The first is that most poetry is overly descriptive, leaving little to the imagination; the second is that the rest of it is abstruse. This presents the non-specialist with a dilemma: either to persevere in the thankless task of attempting to unravel an increasingly unrewarding literary crossword; or to make do with the superficialities of descriptive verse and the resultant ennui. Both projects would presumably confirm any prejudices that these readers entertained about the relevancy of poetry to their lives. In circumstances such as these, I think it would be appropriate to introduce a method of poetic appreciation, which, although unorthodox, would encourage the non-specialist to revise any negative opinion of poetry held.
Breathing-in, Minnesota [a poem: now in Spanish and English]
In early fall, in Minnesota, the rain falls, falls, In buckets, buckets and more buckets-: dropsLikened to music from its many streams-landOf ten-thousand lakes; moistened gravel, gravelEverywhere?
The Crusader: A Search for the Virtue Inside (an excerpt of an Epic Poem)
On through the darkness she searches the bonesSeeking the hand of her love;Deep in the stillness, the maid searches on,Petitioning help from above.Onward she gropes through the flesh and the bloodOf the warriors disfigured and maimed;She carries no hope for the life of her love -For naught but his body she came.To see his face and cradle his head,Hold him close to her breast;Shed bitter tears at her sweet love's endAnd give him peaceful rest.
Ambiguity and Abstraction in Bob Dylan?s Lyrics
To many people contemporary poetry is a turn-off. The reason for this is that the majority of these poems are boring. They are so because they fail to enable people to identify with them. The bulk of modern poetry is no longer about reader identification but about information transfer, information that could just as easily be conveyed in a prose form. These poems are written merely to convey the poet's thoughts and feelings about a specific event, situation or place he or she has experienced or is in the act of experiencing. The poet is not necessarily concerned with whether the reader is moved or not by the poem, so long as he or she understands clearly the information the poet is trying to convey. This may consist of some "important" insight gained from an experience, or it could be (as is usually the case) a jaded statement or commentary about some mundane aspect of contemporary life.
There are many times I set upbarriers and walls,invisible unless you come too close,And then you hit them.
Learn About Love From Poet Rumi
Learn about love by reading poetry by a long dead poet named Rumi. No need to look for ancient texts hidden in caves...Search the Net.
Spell of the Andes: (in English and Spanish)
Note: written 4-15-05, while driving through the Andes of Peru, from Huancayo to Lima. I sensed I was but an ant, among the mass of stone, earth and foliage of this enchanting, and enduring landscape.
Poetry in a Nutshell
Poetry is more than just rhyming and prose that is in meters and verse. It is an art form. It is something that can not be judged by its cover and can not be critisized to the point where it just "sucks." Poetry is about expression. Poetry expresses the way we feel on a certain subject through imagery and other senses. It helps us deal with our daily problems, be it good or bad.
Mechanical Poetry; Part Two
What do you do when you want to write poetry? I hope your answer is "I start writing." Even writing a bad poem is better than waiting for the "right words." You can always throw it away, and the process has begun. You'll start to find the words sooner than if you had just waited. Here are some more ways to get started.
THe Monster Mash, A Graveyard SMASH (short story I wrote when I was 11)
The Monster Mash The Graveyard Smash
Africa - Wheres The Profit?
A poetic comment that just welled up inside my head ? why cant we just do something ? before many more are dead?
Live For Today...
Isn't that what they say?But what does that mean?There's no definition that mayanswer that question...
Black Blood, in Jeremiahs Vines - A Poem and an Article
Black Blood, in Jeremiah's Vines[A Dream Poem]
Song of the Great Zimbabwe, and Silver and Inca Blood [Poems and notes]
"Song of the Great Zimbabwe"
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 ?
Four Poems: Grendels Nature...the Racetrack...Counting days...[Now in English and Spanish]
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Discussion of How Do I Love Thee?
"How Do I Love Thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning was written in 1845 while she was being courted by the English poet, Robert Browning. The poem is also titled Sonnet XLIII from Sonnets From the Portuguese.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|