Poetry Studio

(adapted from Georgia Heard)

Read your poem out loud. Does it sound like a poem? Did you have to stop somewhere while you were reading? What made you stop? Did you substitute any different words from the ones on your paper while you were reading aloud?

Take out words that are not necessary. (Start with words like "the," "an," "a," and "and.") You might even take out whole lines.

Move lines of your poem around. Sometimes they sound better in a different place.

Choose words that describe and make pictures in your mind. These words might be adjectives, similes, or metaphors. Your action words (verbs) should describe. Remember that poets use alliteration and repetition for sound and rhythm. Don't forget about onomatopoeia if it is appropriate for your poem, and personification can be a very creative way to describe.

Do you have some "tired" (overused) words? Write them on another piece of paper and brainstorm some words you could use instead of those words. Be specific. For example, instead of using the word "tree," use "oak" or "maple." Instead of "red," use "crimson." A thesaurus will help.

Does your poem have an ending? If it doesn't, how can you end your poem?

Look at the shape of your poem. Try different line breaks and indents from the margin. If you want individual words or lines to stand out from the rest, leave space around them.

You don't have to start with a title when you write a poem. A really good title might come into your mind after you have finished writing your poem. Or, it is all right if your poem doesn't have a title at all.

If you think a poem needs a lot of work, choose your best line or favorite words and write them on a new sheet of paper. Try a fresh poem with those lines or words. Don't throw away the lines you don't like! You might use them later or in another poem.

If you are having trouble with a poem, put it away for awhile and come back to it another time. Sometimes it's easier to see what's good and what parts need revision when you haven't looked at it for a while.

Page last updated 03/27/16

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