Poetry: Making Music with Words

poetry making music with words

Do you make music with words?

Most writers are primarily concerned with the meaning of the words they choose. Is the language precise and accurate? Do the words provide the best connotation for what the writer is trying to communicate? Does the language show, rather than tell?

But poets take language a step further and push it into the realm of music. Poets care about meaning, precision, and accuracy as well as connotation and imagery. But they also care about how words sound, because musicality is a fundamental feature of poetry. Read More

How to Construe and Convey Tone in Poetry

tone in poetry

Are you paying attention to tone in poetry?

In literature, tone is the mood, attitude, or emotional sensibility of a written work. In poetry, tone expresses the narrator’s disposition toward the poem’s subject, the reader, or the narrative itself.

We might describe a poem’s tone as irreverent, relaxed, sarcastic, solemn, jubilant, or desperate. Tone can be any emotion or state of mind, and a single poem can include a combination of tones.

When we’re speaking, our tone is expressed through inflection. We use pitch and stress to communicate the attitude behind the words we’re saying. If I say, “Get out of here!” the tone of my voice will let you know whether I’m literally telling you to leave the room or whether I’m figuratively saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In writing, we must approach tone with care, because it is often and easily misinterpreted. For example, sarcasm is commonly misread in text messaging and on social media. Someone types a sarcastic statement in jest, but the recipient takes it literally and may get offended or confused. Some people mark sarcastic remarks with <sarcasm> to ensure clarity for this reason.

If communicating tone is so difficult, how can we interpret and communicate it effectively in poetry? Read More

Finding Meaning in Poetry

meaning in poetry

Finding meaning in poetry.

We humans are programmed to find meaning in everything. We find patterns where none exist. We look for hidden messages in works of art. We yearn for meaning, especially when something doesn’t immediately make sense.

Of course, art is open to interpretation, and some of the best works of art have produced a fountain of ideas about what they mean. From the nonsensical children’s story Alice in Wonderland to the complex historical fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, we wonder what a story means, what it’s really about, at its core.

Poetry is no exception. When we come across an abstract or vague poem, we look for meaning in it. We might even impose meaning on it. Read More

Using Allusion in Poetry Writing

allusion in poetry writing

Using allusion in poetry writing.

An allusion is an indirect or explicit reference. In poetry, most allusions refer to other works of art and literature or to historical persons or events. Cultural references are also common. Although allusion is a literary device, it’s often used in casual conversation and other forms of communication, expression, and the arts.

A quick reference can encapsulate a broad idea; therefore, an allusion allows us to make a deep and meaningful statement with just a few words. This is especially useful in poetry, because poets often seek to use condensed language to communicate big ideas. However, allusion requires an understanding between the poet and the reader — a common and shared knowledge about the reference that is being made. Read More

Figurative Language in Poetry Writing

figurative language in poetry writing

Figurative language in poetry writing.

Figurative language says one thing but means another. However, figurative language does not intend to deceive. There is an expectation that figurative language will be understood and correctly interpreted by the listener or reader. We get the term “figure of speech” from figurative language.

In poetry, we frequently use figurative language, because it can be more meaningful, vivid, and expressive.

Let’s take a closer look at figurative language and how we can best use it in poetry writing. Read More

How to Analyze Poetry

poetry analysis

A guide to poetry analysis.

An expert is someone who has mastered their craft through a process of study and practice. Poets are no different. It takes years to become an expert poet.

An important part of studying poetry is analysis. Examining the form, content, and syntax of a poem helps us develop a better understanding and deeper appreciation — not just for a single work of poetry but for poetry in general.

There are plenty of means and reasons for analyzing poetry: we can isolate and examine various elements of the poem, and we can figure out how the poem achieves its effects. Through poetry analysis our comprehension increases; we may gain appreciation for a poem; and ultimately we gain deeper insight into poetry as an art form and a tool for self-expression. We learn what works and what doesn’t, and why. Poetry analysis helps us become better poets. Read More

Using Imagery in Poetry Writing

imagery poetry writing

How to use imagery effectively in poetry writing.

When we talk about imagery, we’re usually referring to visuals — whatever we can see with our eyes. In literary (and more specifically, poetry) terms, imagery is anything that represents a sensory experience, regardless of whether it’s experienced through the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or hands.

There are various types of imagery that we can use in poetry writing, including visual imagery (sight), auditory imagery (sound), olfactory imagery (smell), gustatory imagery (taste), and tactile imagery (touch).

Poets use all types of imagery to make a poem come alive, so readers can feel it, and not just emotionally. Read More

How to Read Poetry

how to read poetry

Tips to enhance your poetry reading experience.

Have you ever fell in love with a song immediately upon hearing it? As soon as it’s over, you whip out your phone and purchase the song, and then you play it on repeat for the rest of the day until you know every note and lyric. It becomes your your current favorite, your latest obsession.

That probably doesn’t happen very often.

Usually when you hear a new song, you feel ambivalent about it. You don’t want to jump out of your chair and start dancing. The song doesn’t make you bang your head. You can’t sing along. You don’t care if you ever hear it again. But then you do hear it again. And on the second listen, you realize, this song isn’t so bad. Then you hear it again and notice an interesting lyric or riff. Then you hear it again and find something in the song that truly speaks to you. After listening to it a dozen times, the song has become one of your favorite pieces of music.

Sometimes we fall in love instantly and other times, things need to grow on us.

The same is true with poetry. If we’re lucky, we encounter a poem that immediately grabs us. But usually we need to spend a little time or make a little effort to truly admire or understand a poem. This isn’t the poem’s fault; in fact sometimes poetry that requires deeper reading offers the greatest payoff.

Anyone can open a book and read lines of poetry, letting the language drift in and out of their mind. When we put some effort into our reading practices, we can create a more enriching and rewarding reading experience for ourselves and become more skilled readers with a greater appreciation for what we’re consuming. Read More

Quotes on Poetry: Leonardo da Vinci

What is Art? What is Poetry?

For centuries, people have been asking what is art? Is art a question? An answer? An expression? A statement? Maybe it’s sheer entertainment.

It’s a question we must answer for ourselves, especially artists and writers.

I believe the best art entertains while it provokes thought or emotion, but that’s just my personal opinion. You might seek art that makes you laugh or fills you with awe. Some prefer art that is masterfully crafted, regardless of the content or messages it communicates. Read More

How to Improve Your Poetry Skills

poetry skills

Strengthen your poetry skills.

Poetry writing requires no license, no education, and no experience. All you need to get started is a pen and some paper. In fact, many writers discovered their calling because they were compelled to write poetry at a young age.

But there’s a big difference between writing poetry and writing good poetry.

Opinions about the art and craft of good poetry are many and varied. Some hold poetry to a high academic or literary standard. Others appreciate the fact that poetry writing provides a creative and healthy form of self-expression.

I believe that all poetry is good in the sense that anything that comes from the heart or anything that speaks truth is good. The poem itself may not win any awards, but the act of writing it can be mood-altering, healing, and maybe even life-changing. Read More