PITHY POETRY

“How long should my poem be?”

Deciding on the length of a piece of creative writing is a common question.  If one is writing a novel, the basic answer is that it must be sufficiently long enough to cover the topic, bring the emotions up to the climax, and in the end wrap it all together like the ribbon around a present. 

Poetry, on the other hand, is succinct by nature.  Poetry can be described as a piece of creative writing that distills ideas into the fewest, most impactful words possible.  Poetry could even be described as pithy – forceful and concise (not to be confused with a pith helmet).

Poetry that drags on endlessly is boring.  The best practice is to perform a Spock-like Vulcan mind dump, writing everything to your heart’s desire.  Then revisit the poem, and look for useless modifiers, repetitive adjectives, and unnecessary adverbs.  Common pitfalls include using bland words such as “very” or “really.” 

Part of the poetry-writing process should always involve masterful use of crisp words.  It is through the simplicity and beauty of language that a poet delivers a message with a powerful punch.  For example: 

“It was a very dark and stormy night”

 could be rewritten as:

 “Night clouds burst, thunder’s hunger and lightning’s thirst”

Verbosity is a problem for poets.  Find a way to put your poem into a sieve, letting the useless, murky words fall through while retaining the heart of your poem.  Challenge yourself by taking a few lines out of the poem.  If you can retain your original meaning, leave the lines out of your final draft.  Keep writing and keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz

 

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