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A writer's secret advantage: Editor's Notes #419
June 19, 2024

Make language fit the task before us.
—George Elliot Clarke

In this issue:

1. A writers’s secret advantage
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1.A writer’s secret advantage
"Write poetry," wrote one of the correspondents of my youth. He was older than my parents, and I paid attention to his ideas, but this one, coming out of the blue and offering no explanation, baffled me for most of my life, a life full of writing. I wrote compulsively and at length, but I never wrote poetry unless ordered by a teacher. The years I wasted ignoring this secret advantage of writers!

Not all writers publish poems. For that matter, not all poets publish poems. Getting poetry published and sold is exceedingly difficult. I am not talking here about publishing, but about writing, and about writing well. Any writer can improve their craft by writing poetry.

Poetry, according to The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is "the expression or embodiment of beautiful or elevated thought, imagination or feeling, in language and a form adapted to stir the imagination and the emotions." Poetry takes the raw material of concrete senses closely observed, interprets them through a lens of figures of speech and unique juxtapositions, and presents them anew in a highly controlled and concentrated from. Both the ideas and the sounds that express them matter.

Time spent developing the skills of such writing is a secret advantage for any writer. Like the churning feet of a swan on a lake, it supports beauty above the surface for everyone to see.

If writing poetry is not currently part of your writing practice, here are two things you can do to start.
  • Read poetry. It will be easier to write poetry if you experience poetry. If you don’t know what you like, use public library resources, or search for poems online. This is not a quick shower in the morning and then be on your way. This is more of a long tub soak. Let the language and the ideas of the poems linger. Many people find that some lines or stanzas become part of their thought life. That might happen to you, too. But don’t try to force it. Just soak your mind in poetry.
  • Use published poems as templates. Do this as often as you like. This is not cheating. It is riding with training wheels. Take off the extra wheels whenever you like.

When you write poetry, over time, your writing improves in subtle, powerful ways.

2.Tickled my funny bone
Don’t worry about old age. It doesn’t last.

3. Interesting Web site
Two links today.

Here is a page of generally esteemed poems. You will have to click the links on the page to get to the actual poems. This is a diverse collection.

I wrote a free course for people wanting to write rhymes for children.

4. Writing prompt
Choose a poem to use as a template, and write your own poem in the same form. Use as much or as little of the original poem as you are comfortable with. The goal is simply to practice writing poetry.

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