Poetry ElementsThe following elements can make any poem better. So we'll practice them until you can do them well.1. Meaning. Be meaningful. Choose a subject that is important to you or the world. Take the time to understand the subject more deeply than your audience already understands it. Be honest. Convey the essence of it.2. Voice. Show some personality, if you have one. Don't be afraid of humor, slang (no profanity, please), making unusual connections, or sharing your thoughts (worries, fantasies, etc.) in the moment of a story in a poem. In this sense, all your poems are at least partially about you.3. Precision. Be precise: choose your words (diction) carefully for their meaning. Zoom in: get specific; notice details. Be concise: don't repeat yourself. Be clear: make sense. Know what you're saying (don't leave it "up to the reader"), and don't substitute a "better-sounding" word for the correct one.4. Description. Show a lot more than you tell. Use way more imagery than thoughts. Use your other senses, too: sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations. Don't just mention them, describe them: break down details like ingredients, physical features and gestures. Choose the significant details and leave out the others. Immerse your audience in your reality (or fantasy).5. Sound. The word is meant to be heard. Make a poem work the audience's ears through rhyme, consonance, assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and wordplay.6. Rhythm. Poems, unlike most prose, depend on having an internal beat. Use accented syllables, silence, line breaks, meter, and traditional and original rhythmic patterns to get your audience's heads nodding.7. Metaphors and Similes. Poetry is about making connections. One thing is like another. Make original connections, large and small, that your audience will remember.8. Performance/Presentation. Be prepared to share all work aloud. Animate your poem with your voice and physical presence: give the volume, pace, inflection and gestures to make the audience feel and "get" the words to the maximum extent. Memorization helps. For written work, use line breaks and stanzas to highlight your ideas, rhythm and rhymes. Spellcheck, and be consistent with punctuation.All poems we write this class will be scored based on the inclusion of at least some of these elements. When we analyze poems in this class, "analysis" will be no more complicated than pointing out where and how these elements were used.
Click on the related link to the left to see further explanations and examples for each.
Last Modified on March 11, 2019