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In Part One of my Creative Nonfiction (CN) tips, I defined the different types of writing, including fiction, nonfiction, and more specifically CN. I covered the importance of capturing truth while utilising fiction writing techniques. Then I outlined a few things to be aware of when writing or considering writing CN and listed some superb reading material to get you started. Part Two expanded on those tips and offered an extract from my memoir as example.
Today, I’m sharing three of the big areas to consider when writing a poem, plus another comprehensive reading list. Information taken from the second module: 21st Century Poetry. Hopefully you’ll take something useful away.
Poetry is not as it once was. We need not rhyme at the end of the lines, we are not restricted by rigid forms or subjects. As society changes, so does art. Which is wonderful, let’s face it! 🙂 There is not enough room to explore 21st century poetry here (I recommend it though, if you’re interested in reading or writing poetry. Check out the reading resources below). So lets leap into poetry writing tips.
1) Use a Journal
Record thoughts, dreams, experiences, something someone said, something you watched on TV / at the Cinema / read in a book / a lyric you heard / a sound from nature. Record anything and everything which captures your imagination. This is recommended for all writers, but is the vein you drain for poetry.
2) Know & Use Sound Devices
Sound devices are resources used by poets to convey and reinforce the meaning or experience of poetry through the skilful use of sound. Some of these definitions, by the way, come by way of the Glossary of Poetic Terms, which can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/20020206220233/http://shoga.wwa.com:80/~rgs/glossary.html. Go there for the full definitions.
The rhythmically significant stress in the spoken word, giving some syllables more relative prominence than others. In words of two or more syllables, one syllable is almost always stressed more than the others.
Also called head rhyme or initial rhyme, is the repetition of initial sounds of stressed syllables in nearby words. The sound of alliteration pleases the ear and provide subtle connections or emphasis between specific words or images.
Stark in streaking moonlight, a silver door handle … (here stark/streaking/silver produce a glowing shiny chrome image and are connected by the letter ‘S’)
The nearby placement of vowel sounds, with different end consonants, thus a vowel rhyme, as in the words, date and fade.
A pleasing combination of sounds, specifically tone. Also, the repetition of the same end consonants of words such as boat and night within or at the end of a line, or the words, cool and soul.
a rose with petals tight
one by one
thousands of moons
blinked and shone
a bud without bloom
her flourish gone
the petal-less one
- Cacophony and Euphony
Cacophony is opposite to euphony. Cacophony uses consonants in combinations which requires explosive delivery e.g., p, b, d, g, k, ch-, sh- etc.
We use cacophony to describe a discordant situation using discordant words which allows readers to sense the unpleasant situation referred to. Eg., b, k and p sound harsher than softer sounding f and v or the liquid l, m and n.
to prise muted strips
of blue, or blow air
beyond a mottled
push linked palms
below a silent,
In contrast, Euphony is vowels, semi-vowels and nasal consonants e.g. l, m, n, r, y which produce pleasant and harmonious sounding words. It is achieved by selection of word-sounds and by their relationship of repetition, proximity, and flow of sound patterns.
Cooler air consumes dawn, where dream-drops assuage
pinching shoulders and gnawing temples, till
night-time’s miracle mauves and ballsy blacks
emerge, disguised as sleep.
A mix of harsh, inharmonious grating sounds.
Refer to Cacophony eg.
- INTERNAL RHYME
Also called middle rhyme, a rhyme occurring within the line, as in the poem, The Matador:
His childhood fraught with lessons taught by want and misery
To properly explain all of this would take up several post, but in brief: Meter is measure of rhythmic quantity, organised groups of syllables at regular intervals in a line of poetry, according to metrical patterns. There are many kinds with different sounds and these days, poets use a variation to avoid the “te-dum, te-dum” sound, unless that’s the desired effect.
In free verse, meter has become either irregular or obsolete.
- NEAR RHYME
Also called slant rhyme, off rhyme, imperfect rhyme or half rhyme, it sounds similar, but not exact, as in home and come or close and lose.
- ONOMATOPOEIA (ahn-uh-mah-tuh-PEE-uh)
The use of words which imitate sounds, like whispering, boom, cough or sizzle, but can refer to words whose sound suggests its meaning.
- PHONETIC SYMBOLISM
Sound evocation; the association of word-sounds with common areas of meaning so that other words of similar sounds come to be associated with those meanings. It is also called sound symbolism.
An example of word sounds with a common area of meaning is a group beginning with gl, all referring to light: gleam, glare, glitter, glimmer, glint, glisten, glossy and glow.
The quality, richness, variety of sounds in the poem, as in Milton’s
. . . and the thunder . . . ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.
Without going through the huge variety of rhyme schemes available to a poet (some covered above) in its most basic definition rhyme is a literary device used to add echoes to your words. These can be used at the end of lines, within lines, and by using vowels or consonants or both.
The word rhythm is derived from rhythmos (Greek) which means, “measured motion” which, sums up rhythm in basic terms. It would take pages and pages to cover rhythm in full. This literary device can demonstrate long and short patterns through stressed and unstressed syllables.
3) Know the Difference Between Theme and Subject.
“Love” is a subject, not a theme; “love is pain” is a theme. “Theme” refers to a more general, or universal message—a big idea—as well as to something that the reader could take away. Follow the following to locate theme:
1) What subject is your poem is about?
2) Use one-word answers to question (1); and
3) Consider what tone you will use/you have used towards the subject in the poem?
For example, “love,” “trust,” and “loss” are subjects. Perhaps your feel the attitude in a poem toward that one-word subject (2), say “love” is the theme—for example, “love is dangerous,” or “loss of love makes you stronger.”
This process isn’t always easy or straightforward: some poems cannot be reduced to simple themes or even subjects, which—perhaps because the poet uses ambiguity, paradox, abstraction, or complexity—strengthens interest in and engagement with a poem.
Be aware that poetry often avoids providing answers. Instead, they pose problems or raise questions. Also, be mindful of CONNOTATIONS! Every word used in poetry should be there purposefully and there is meaning in their choice. Restrict word usage to what’s necessary.
In all writing, redundancy is a no-no.
*Unless otherwise stated, poetry examples were from my work.
This is a learning resources document, which you can download if you like:
Disgraceful self promotion
Because I’m chuffed at the impending release of a print edition of my horror collection, I had to share the news. Please forgive me 🙂 Here’s the full post.
I would love if you used social media, such as Twitter or Facebook to share news about my book (http://myBook.to/3HORRORAMAZON). And I’m happy to give review copies to those interested in this genre, in your choice of file. Use my CONTACT page to let me know.