For Writing and Reciting, a Few Basic Tips

Monday, May 5, 2008

There is no single "right" way to compose a poem, but here are tips from U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic:

· Don't tell the readers what they already know about life.

· Don't assume you're the only one in the world who suffers.

· Some of the greatest poems in the language are sonnets and poems not many lines longer than that, so don't overwrite.

· The use of images, similes and metaphors make poems concise. Close your eyes, and let your imagination tell you what to do.

· Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next.

· Remember that what you are writing is a draft that will need additional tinkering -- perhaps many months, even years, of tinkering.

Reciting poetry takes practice, too. The following tips are adapted from a talk by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins on oral recitation:

· Read the poem slowly so it can be understood.

· Pause for a few seconds between the title and the poem's first line.

· Read in a normal, relaxed tone of voice. It is not necessary to give poems a dramatic reading as if from a stage.

· Pause only when there is punctuation and not at the end of every line.

· Practice with a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words and hard-to-pronounce words.

SOURCE: Library of Congress

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