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Writing poetry? Not!….but if you want to try….

By 07/01/2008December 1st, 2017poetry

Have been working the whole day at critiquing other people’ s poems at a website, and have come to realize that writing poetry may indeed have no place in our modern lives. There are those that struggle and strive and refuse to give up on a firmly unpoetry-poetic world, but their numbers are incredibly low, they are more difficult to find than a needle in an acre of haystacks.

I read some poems with potential, extraordinary poems, and some that were downright crap. On that site, the best poets complain of a lack of market, and sometimes those that make it to the top of the list, do so by bribing the reviewer with what are called member dollars.These member dollars are earned by reviewing ,or can be bought online by paying regular dollars.

I suspect a whole majority on the site who make it to the top of the list do so by taking the shortcut, and not by honestly reviewing other’s writing! (But then, what do I know…maybe will join site to find out?)

Am very sad sometimes that one of the things that I enjoy doing is writing, and writing poetry in particular. It has been my lifelong ambition to pursue a career doing what I love, but who will pay a poet, and probably an average poet at that?

So maybe it is not a surprise that poetry and money have been diverse, staying away from each other as the devil shirks holy water. And I am a fool to think I can make a career out of it, of course there were poets who got by on their writing alone, but through history, I think I would be counting them on my fingers. But all the same, I can’t altogether quit writing, and some of it has even been praised by those who know what they are talking about.

If writing poetry is a matter of passion for you, just like me, try the following (somewhat workable) tips:

-The very first rule is there is no rule.

– Originality and a fresh perspective or insight is half the value of a poem.

-Always remember a poem is to be read aloud, and sound good when that is done.

-Do not force or impose rhyme, however.

-Start with mundane topics: love poetry at the hands of a novice really, really sucks.

-If you have a line occur to you while having a bath, or while talking a walk, make sure to jot it down somewhere it is accessible.

-If you feel you need to write something rightaway but don’t have the time, quickly note down the thoughts that came to you. I have a dictaphone which I use for myself for this purpose sometimes.

-Once you have written a poem, let it rest. Go back to it after a while: a month, a year, two years: if it still sounds as good to you as it did the first time, there might be something in it.
This nugget came to me from a poet who had actually made some money from his writing.

-Do not try to make money from writing poetry, better hands have tried and failed. Treat it more like a spiritual cum intellectual exercise till you publish your first poem (and I don’t mean your college mag or some vague poetry contest.)

-Judicious revision always seems to help a poem.

Here is an excellent link to the interview of a published poet.

If you have any tips of your own, I would be happy to add them with due credit to you. (link to website/blog).

Having said all of that, I need to get back to writing articles much as I love poetry, reading as well as writing.

To put bread and butter on my table, however, (and of course a sundry other things!), it is back to writing “lousy” articles or proofreading even lousier ones.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I am a poet trying to get my foot in the door i really would like to take my writing to the next level past just publishing if anyone has any ideas please feel free to say so

  • ebele says:


    I don’t think you should completely give up on getting paid for your poetry. It really depends on what you do with it. You love writing poetry so why not guide other people through the process – I’m sure schools would love you (and most schools do tend to have a budget to pay poets to do that).

    Approach organisations with ideas – is there a cafe nearby? – offer to write food poems for them – they can put it on the other side of their menus.

    Getting paid – and getting paid well is possible – you just need to get really creative (beyond publishing a book).

    take care…

  • warmeskimo says:

    Have you considered reading poetry aloud to post it on the internet? What about having somebody else read your own poetry aloud and post a video on the internet?

    There is a new, completely free, requests-driven poetry reading site where you can request a reading of your poetry, read a poem for somebody else or read your own poetry out aloud and then post it. If you like the idea, have a look at:

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