Tips on Writing Poetry

National Poetry Month

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary,” said Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran. There are probably almost as many definitions of poetry and opinions on what makes it good or bad as there are poems, so to help clarify things we turned to one of our favorite Chicago poets. She shared some of her tips for writing poetry, as well as a current favorite poem.

“One of my favorite poetry tips is: read the Onion article “Poet Takes Extra 5 Minutes to Vague Up Poem” and understand why the satire is so hilarious. A poem is not a mystery to be solved or a riddle with one answer; a poem is a communicative act and needs to be not vague, but clear and understandable.  Bonus points if the poem can be funny. One of my favorite recent poems that is clear and fun and hilarious is “What’s the Scoop?” by Shannon Burns, which takes a dull cliché and pushes it beyond its logical limit, making it new and weird again.”

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Follow her on Twitter @kathleenMrooney.

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