Cerasus Top 5 Poetry Tips

Cerasus Top 5 Poetry Tips


It’s been a while since we posted anything, since we are busy editing. It’s an essential task, but doesn’t make for interesting blog entries.

However, a few of the same issues keep cropping up, which we thought we would share in the hope it may assist in your own poetry writing.

We have summarised our top 5 as follows:


1) Like. Do not overuse similes, saying something is like something else. Poetry is usually improved by metaphor. The yellow sun is like an egg yolk can become the sun is yellow as an egg yolk or the sun is egg yolk yellow or simply the sun is an egg yolk or just the egg yolk sun. Then you can start thinking about albumen clouds.


2) -ing.  Beware the use of weak verb endings. A phrase sounds more dynamic, direct and active without them. The dog is barking is made more immediate when the dog barks.


3) -ly.   Doubly beware the use of adverbs, which lack precision and again weaken your phrases. Instead of he runs quickly say he hurries or he hastens. Otherwise, devise a metaphor involving a zephyr or some such fast moving thing, unless it clutters the scene.


4) Cliche. It is so easy to fall back on well worn phrases and sayings, especially when they convey exactly what you want to express. But poetry is about communicating your unique point of view, your personal thoughts and experiences. Place yourself in the situation. What do you honestly think and feel? What does each of your 5 senses tell you? Remove the filters through which you normally perceive the world and admit the truth, no matter how painful. Only resort to cliche in the interest of bathos or irony. Show, don’t tell.


5) Faff.  The first draft of a poem is often a journey into mystery and you don’t know where it’s going until you arrive at the end. Looking back over your path, you may see all sorts of twists and turns and diversions and dead ends you mistakenly took on the way. For the benefit of fellow travellers who follow after, it is probably best to simplify your route. This is also known as kill your darlings.


6) None of the above.   Once you know the rules, break them.





I teach Flash Fiction with a colleague who writes a lot of good FF. Much of this can apply. I always say 'and these are guidelines not rules.' My tips for short prose pieces are 'use little bits of reported speech' - because i enjoy doing this -  and 'start at the exciting bit', which can of course be the chronological start.

Good luck with the  Cerasus venturesmiley

Yes, Poetry should be even more condensed than Flash.

A good poem can say more in 20 lines than a novel does in 200 pages.


Agree. But I have yet to write one that good!