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Poems for the People   -  Poems by the People

Learn to Write Better Poetry

If you've spent any time at all at Passions, you already know our philosophy. Poetry is about beauty and Truth, and everyone with a still-beating heart is a Poet. We all have something important to say.

But that doesn't mean we can't all learn to be better poets. No one would even think about building their own home without first learning to hold a hammer. Well, poetry has tools, too, and we can greatly improve our work by learning to use them.

This section of the web site is about learning the craft of poetry, so that our art can better express our Truths. It's about learning how to hold a hammer.

Poetry On The Net

There are thousands, probably tens of thousands, of web sites on the Internet dedicated to sharing poetry. And only a handful that help you learn better ways to write it. These are the few good ones we've found.

All Links last verified 1/8/2014

The title pretty much says it all. If you don't know what a poetic term means, you'll almost certainly find out here.
Want to know the difference between effect and affect? How to correctly use the word alot? (hint - there is no word alot) I can, and often have, spent hours at this site. It's educational. It's hilarious!
This web site is not about poetry, but about writing. Still, you'll find a lot of good information, including workshops, a FAQ on writing, and wonderful articles like "How to Get Published" and "How to Benefit from Writer's Groups."
If you'd like to learn the intricacies of the sonnet, ballad, sestina, or several other wonderful forms of poetry - this is a darn good place to start. Each form also includes external links to sites, often specializing in that form.
This is the Internet home page of the very excellent Poets & Writers magazine. And, yes, they're going to try to sell you something while you're there (nothing wrong with that). But even if you don't want a subscription or seminar, you'll find some really great articles hidden within.
Put together by Pennsylvania Professor of the Year Al Filreis (University of Pennsylvania), this comprehensive web site includes tons of definitions and articles and even more links to other excellent web sites.
A collection of short articles from Emory University,
Atlanta, Georgia, including: Revision and Editing, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Style.
Trust me, this is not just for kids, nor is it just about being Funny. It is, rather, an excellent discussion on rhyming, from male to female rhymes, and even including Grotesque styles. It'll take about five minutes to read the three available chapters, and half a lifetime to master.

Tools On The Net

While nothing will ever replace a good ear and an open heart, writers still find other tools to be valuable, too.

All Links last verified 1/8/2014

Poetry On The Shelf

There is, in the end, only one way to learn how to write. By writing. But "practice makes perfect" is only true if your practice is perfect. Imperfect practice will only keep you writing the same imperfect things. These books are the ones we use, the ones we've discovered can put the perfection back into your practice.

These links will take you to the famous amazon.com web site, so you might want to bookmark this page before you leave. Also note, we are listing the prices here so you'll have an indication of relative expense - but amazon can (and often does) change their prices.

All Links last verified 1/8/2014

Creating Poetry
by John Drury

If you buy only one book on poetry, this is the one! In a style that is both erudite and engaging, Drury covers virtually everything you need to know to vastly improve your skills as a poet. So many of today's writers let their own poetic preferences dominate their material - but not Drury. Whether you write in meter and rhyme, free verse or blank, you'll find a treasure chest of invaluable information and insight. And, of course, lots of great examples.

At a Glance

  • Preparing - developing your poetic sensitivity
  • Language - learning the fundamental tools of poetry and using them effectively
  • Sight - refining sight and insight, to make your poetry come alive within the mind's eye. And the heart's eye, too.
  • Sound - sensitizing yourself to the music of words, both singly and in combination
  • Movement - developing the rhythmic qualities that make poems sing, shout, march, croon, or whisper
  • Voice - becoming aware of the fine nuances of how the words are said and connected
  • Finishing - bringing each poem to a successful - and satisfying - completion

The Poetry Dictionary
by John Drury

This book includes a comprehensive list of 284 topics, covering everything from simple meter and enjambment to villanelles and pantoums.

But it's far more than just a list or dry dictionary. Drury, both a poet and English professor, is without question one of my favorite authors (see book above), and writes in a style that is both easy to understand and a joy to read. With the vast majority of terms he covers, Drury also includes multiple examples, and you'll likely agree the poetry alone is worth the price of the book.

Poetic Rhythm : An Introduction
by Derek Attridge

In spite of the title, I would not consider this an introductory text. Nor is it noncontroversial, as Attridge often devises his own schemes for explaining and exploring the subjects of meter and rhythm. But the bottom line is, his own schemes make a lot of sense, and often reveal truths about poetry overlooked by more traditional teachers.

If you already have a firm grasp of iambic pentameter, and have passed beyond the stage of counting syllables, this is the next book you should read.