The Poetry Editor and Poetry: 10 Tips on Titles for a poem or poetry book

The title of a poem, poetry book, or chapbook can capture a reader’s attention, add connotations to what follows, and help readers gain an entrance into the poem.

Source: The Poetry Editor and Poetry: 10 Tips on Titles for a poem or poetry book


The Poetry Editor and Poetry: Excellent resources for poets ready to excel

This newly updated list of resources can help you enhance the writing, revising, and submitting of your poems to appropriate poetry journals, anthologies, and e-zines. Once you have placed a number of poems with editors of print or online publications, you’ll be better prepared to approach a publisher of poetry chapbooks or books of poems.

Source: The Poetry Editor and Poetry: Excellent resources for poets ready to excel

All Broken Up & other line breaks

One advantage of traditional forms of poetry hinges on the swing of a line. Instead of having to decide where and when to break each line of a poem, the pattern of your chosen form makes that decision for you.

For example, a sonnet written in iambic pentameter will be measured (meter) as five feet with iambs predominating. At the end of those five, the line breaks, and the next line of iambic pentameter begins with the same pattern repeated for 14 rhyming lines.

If you want to know more about the sonnet form, save this page and click the link below to an earlier post on the Poetry Editor blog. If you don’t care, skip through the pink stuff!

Sonnets traditionally require poets to use rhythmic rhymes and argue nicely in fourteen lines

If you’re not sure what iambs and other poetic feet consist of but want to know, visit these discussions where I aimed to make the explanations as easy as possible.

Scan A Poem. Get The Picture.

Scan a poem. Catch the beat. Change the rhythm as you revise.

Accentual syllabic or metered verse

Unlike traditional forms of poetry with their consistent patterns, free verse is free of meter and free of other requirements, such as line length.

That sounds airy-light and, yeah, freeing, but this means you have to make a decision with every line. Sometimes that’s a hard call; sometimes not. Either way, line breaks can make or break a free verse poem.

Is this something to fret about as you write? No! Worry is more confining than any poetry pattern, so let poems flow. Then go back later to revise, breaking lines here or there or wherever your eyes and ears desire.

As you read each poem and revision aloud, keep your ear attuned to its musicality.

As you read each poem by sight, see if you find any evidence of a unique pattern to emphasize and make the poem pop.

In the following poem, for example, I played with line breaks on the word “break.” Then, during the revision process, I experimented with variations of “break” and “broke” and, mainly, had fun.

Play with words. Play around with line breaks. Try something new, and have a good time with your poems and your readers.

All Broken Up!
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Hey! What’s going on tonight?
My fingernail broke.
A bird broke into flight,
and, oh! The mirror broke!
Will it be all right?
Then someone breaks
the silence.

I went to bed closing
my eyes to these sights –
hoping and praying the breaks
might not last,
then morning broke
into dawn-light,
and I happily hopped down to break-

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler. All rights reserved. The poem “All Broken Up!” originally appeared in Mary’s Kindle e-book for kids, the Poetry Dictionary For Children & For Fun and has been included, too, in her book of children’s poems, Beach Songs & Wood Chimes, to be published mid-September by Kelsay Books, who also published Outside Eden. In addition, Mary released the Kindle e-book the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry as a revision of the poetry home study course she wrote and used for many years with other poets and poetry students. She continues to help poets, one-on-one, through her website.

Pass the information, poetically please

When we think about common characteristics in well-written poetry, we might notice musicality, fresh imagery, precise word choices, compressed lines, spare language, and interesting juxtaposition as one thing connects to another in an unexpected way. Toss in a little humor, and your readers might even look for more poems by you! But what happens if we toss in information – not made-up stuff, but actual data that’s as factual as it can be? Does that place too much weight on a poem?

English-speaking poets who experimented with this include John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Jane Taylor, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sarah Coleridge, and too many others to mention. To see how they went about passing along information, poetically, you can find some of their poems in the public domain posted on various Internet sites.

Although “informational” poems by the above poets may have been written for children, their work retained qualities found in most well-written poems. Such poets as Stephen Vincent Benét even won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for his epic Civil War poem “John Brown’s Body,” while contemporary poets such as Mary Ann Hoberman use lively humor to pass along information to remember and enjoy. Not only was Mary Ann our U.S. Children’s poet laureate for a few years, her published works include 45 books – all but one of which she wrote in poetry.

Since I’d need her permission to quote any of her poems to illustrate what I mean by passing along information, poetically, I’ll use a poem I included in the Christian Poet’s Guide to Poetry – the e-book version of the poetry home study course I wrote in the 1980’s and used for years in working with other poets and poetry students.

Spider, Spider
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Spider, Spider,
eight-legged glider,
how do you spin those threads?
You don’t have a needle
to wheedle a beetle,
so what do you use instead?

Spider, Spider,
how does your sticky web spin?
Can you duck from the guck
without getting stuck?
How do you get out and in?

Even if readers had no previous contact with spiders nor any other info, the poem would let them know a spider has eight legs, spins a web of a sticky substance, and feeds on insects. Those facts – and, perhaps, the questions posed – might intrigue a reader to investigate this amazing creature from the natural world.

©2013, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. For more investigations into the natural world – from human nature to cosmic leaps landing in traditional forms, haiku, prose poems, devotional poems, and free verse, order Mary’s book Living in the Nature Poem, published in 2012 by Hiraeth Press.


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