Poetry Writing: Getting College Credit
For Your Old High School Poetry
Poems that you wrote in high school to celebrate a first love, work through a painful breakup, or say goodbye to friends at graduation may be of extreme personal value to you; but if such poems are historical artifacts -- if you value them as definitive records of the way you felt at that time -- they won't work terribly well as submissions for college writing classes, since most professors will expect you to revise your work.
If you are submitting something that you don't plan to revise, it's a good idea to let your instructor know. (That's because your instructor will give a completely different kind of feedback on a text that you consider to be "finished," as opposed to a work-in-progress.)
Check with your instructor. If the purpose of the assignment is to see how well you can revise a creative work, you should probaby submit something else as well.
Be Prepared to Analyze Own Your Poem
Your reader might be interested in knowing who some of the characters in the poem are, or what was happening in your life at the time.
But beyond these basic questions, how did the people or events in your life affect the theme you chose, or the way you wrote? What effect did you want the poem to have on your reader? Did you aim for an unusual rhythmic effect? Are you particularly proud of some words that carry double meanings? Are there any "in jokes," pop culture references, or literary allusions that might not be apparent to all readers?
See also: Poetry Writing: Top 10 Tips.
26 May 2000 -- originally submitted
by Kara Ziehl, for Prof. Jerz's "Technical Writing"
01 Aug 2000 -- modified and posted by Jerz
14 Aug 2003 -- trimmed and edited by Jerz
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Even poets who write extremely short poems must craft their verses carefully.
Poetry Involves More Than Rhyme!
I may have a nervous breakdown the next time I have to read a poem that rhymes "you" and "true" or "love" and "above," or that sacrifices the rhythm and content of the poem in order to preserve the rhyme. For more, see Kara's Poetry Writing: Top 10 Tips.
Tips for Writing Poetry
Know your goal; avoid clichés; avoid sentimentality; use images; use metaphor and simile; use concrete words; communicate theme; subvert the ordinary; rhyme with extreme caution; and revise, revise, revise.