Mary Harwell Sayler: 10 Ways a Writer’s Work Has Changed

A writer’s life didn’t use to focus on marketing or building a platform but on writing well and finding the most likely editors.

Source: Mary Harwell Sayler: 10 Ways a Writer’s Work Has Changed


Read, write, breathe poetry

With National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) rapidly coming to an end, I thought it might be a good time to select past posts that can help you better enjoy the poems you read and also effectively improve your own poems as you revise. During this search, however, I unhappily discovered that my blog host does not provide easy access to posts written before 2012!

Fortunately, basic information on poetry stays the same! So I found hotlinks that still work, as listed below, to give you a broad overview of poetry and the joys and challenges of becoming a published poet.

Since those early days of posting, I changed my website to my name, which means you might find links within an article that no longer work. Also, when Poetry Of Course went out of print with my book publisher, I retained rights to upload an updated version as the Kindle e-book, a Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry.

Hopefully, these helps will give your poetry writing a boost, but you’re welcome to suggest new topics in the Comments section below.

How to Read a Poem

Scan A Poem. Get The Picture.

Going Postal with Poetry

Rhyme, rhythm, and reality: traditional English verse

Start your New Year with new tools for writing & revising poems

What kinds of poems fit you?

How do you know a poem is ready?

Do real poets read and write prose poems?

Breaking line with free verse

Line breaks can make or break your poem

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

Poetry forms help re-form a poem as you revise

National Poetry Month and the 3 Rs

Poets and poems to celebrate during National Poetry Month

Poets who shaped poetry – good reading for NaPoMo & beyond

How to write haiku

Revising your poetry can be a smooth move.

Poetry Revision: Less can bring more to a poem

Three techniques for revising your poems

Unlocking clockwork rhyme

Villanelles need something worth repeating

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

That Punctual Punctuation (Anyway) How

Resolutions for sober poets in the New Year

©2015 Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. For more poetry resources or a one-on-one critique of your poetry book, chapbook, or batch of poems for a minimal fee, visit Mary’s website.

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.

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