Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler

As the New Year begins, expand your options and improve your writing and publishing success with these tips and helps.

Source: Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler


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

How to improve your poems

Poetry writing often happens naturally and spontaneously. However, improvements can be made when a poem gets to sit awhile before you come back to read the lines aloud and notice what needs improvement.

The more you read poetry by other poets, the more you’ll recognize what works well and what does not. Meanwhile, you can improve your poems by asking these questions of each poem as you revise:

• Does the poem have a fresh view or insight into the theme or topic?

• Will the subject interest most people?

• Is the poem truthful and honest about its facts and feelings?

• Does the poem make refreshing use of language?

• Do the word choices have interesting connotations or echoing sounds?

• Does the poem emphasize only important words with the use of sound echoes or rhyme for special effect?

• Can any musicality be heard as you read the poem aloud?

• Does the poem use humor rather than wit and cleverness?

• Do the form, tone, and style fit the idea?

• Do the line-breaks in free verse work well, or would the poem improve if the lines were broken differently?

• Does each traditional poem fit a particular form?

• Will the length and style suit poetry journals or e-zines?

• Does the poem invite readers into an experience?

• Does the poem cause readers to think on their own, rather than telling them what and how to think?

• Does the poem offer more than readers will get in one reading, so they’ll want to read it again?

• Would you like the poem a lot if someone else had written it?

If you want to write poems other people will enjoy reading, you’ll do well to study poetry forms and time-tested techniques as shown in this home study course, now available as an inexpensive, reader-friendly e-book, the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry. And, if you have been writing poems a while or just want feedback to help you take your poems to the next level, a poetry critique will help.

© 2014, Mary Sayler, poetry editor and poet-author of Living in the Nature Poem by Hiraeth Press and Outside Eden, to be published in late Spring of 2014 by Kelsay Books

Living in the Nature Poem, paperback

Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, Kindle e-book

The story behind the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry

When I began instructing students of Joan Unger’s Personalized Study Program in the early 1980’s, we had no poetry home study course, but then, no one else did either. Joan and I decided to add one to the correspondence courses (yeah, by snail mail) she had written on fiction and nonfiction. So I wrote the PSP course in Poetry, which we also called the “V” (for “verse”) units.

Joan did the formatting and everything else – not only for PSP studies, but also for the Christian Writers Fellowship (CWFI) she had founded and directed. After she retired, I headed CWFI for a few years until turning it over to Sandy Brooks and the fiction and nonfiction courses to Marlene Bagnull with my blessings – and relief!

By then I had all sorts of writing projects but kept working, one on one, with poetry students until I needed help. Thanks to a former PSP student, very successful writer, and poet-peer Mona Hodgson, I got caught up and continued to tweak and use the PSP poetry home study course for years with poetry students.

With the advent of the Internet, however, online help became instantly available for poetry lovers and students with fewer and fewer interested in poetry courses by mail. I tweaked the course to aim toward a more secular audience and found a traditional publisher for the book version Poetry: Taking Its Course.

By the time I ran out of copies, e-books had made books readily accessible to people all over the world, so self-publishing on Kindle seemed like the way to go. First, however, I returned the text to its original emphasis on a Christian poet’s perspective then changed the name to the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry.

You can find the new e-book on Amazon, but in case you don’t get a hand-held Kindle for Christmas, you’ll be glad to know you don’t have to have one. Just download the free Kindle viewer onto your computer, and you can order this and other e-books online.

As a poet who still prefers pencil and paper, I’m happy to say the e-book formatting process on Kindle was simple enough that, Lord willing, I’ll upload an easy-reader poetry dictionary soon. Meanwhile, if you find any errors on the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, please let me know. And, if you get anything helpful out of the book, let other people know in your review. Thanks and blessings.

(c) 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler

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