How to Write Bad Poetry

"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."--Oscar Wilde

People write poetry for a plethora of reasons, but this article has a sharpened arrowhead aimed directly at the fingertips of amateur poets who wish to be published yet refuse to learn the attributes of a well-crafted poem. These poets are the ones who plop their pieces, shining with every beam of ambiguity, vagueness and hackney, into cyberspace for review. I have encountered a few of these poets to whom I have given a courteous critique, only to be backhanded in the face by sore comments such as, "You must be too dense to get it," or "Everyone I know tells me how great I am. You're the only one?"

Of course I am usually left wondering why someone would care to post a poem in a critique forum if any constructive comment given to the poet gets immediately flushed down the cyber-potty. Many new poets seem to think that writing a poem is one hundred percent emotion. They overlook the notion that, as with any craft, poetry entails a good deal of practice and learning as well as desire and talent. So instead of writing about the importance of concrete imagery, figurative language, and the art of minimizing abstractions, I thought it might be fun, (and might even tick a few people off) to write a small compendium of attributes of bad poetry.

Recipe for a Really Bad Poem

- A bad poem should not have any original language. If you aim to write a bad poem, avoid coming up with stark images. The last thing you would want to do is write something fresh, innovative, and evocative. Use as many hackneyed expressions as possible, such as "crystal clear," "dark as ebony," "blue as the sky," "dark as night," "?paints a picture," "climb the highest mountain," Etc.

- An especially bad poem should be heavily weighted with abstract words such as "heart," "love" "sadness," "despair," "hate," and "destiny." The more abstract and generalized your poem, the better suited it will be to mean absolutely nothing to the reader. Aim for zero concrete images if you want a particularly bad poem. For example, "The world is a sorrowful place/ filled with sadness and hate?blah blah blah." Also, be sure to TELL the poet how to describe something by using superfluous abstract adjectives! "The water is pretty;" "The world is ugly;" "His eyes were beautiful?" A bad poem should never use figurative language or descriptive imagery to SHOW the reader a slice of life.

- No matter how odd the sentence becomes, or how unlikely the phrase would be concocted in normal language, make it RHYME. Rhyme anyway!! That's right, a bad poem is going to have very forced rhyme. If you have to rearrange the structure of a sentence just to make the rhyme fit, go for it! For example: "The apple blossoms fell in May/ on the grassy field is where they lay." (Notice how I just couldn't say, "They lay on the grassy field?" That wouldn't rhyme, so I had to make up a funky sentence.

- Don't worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. What you really want to do is to make the reader scratch her head and read it a zillion times trying to figure out what it means. Bad spelling and poor grammar will really detract from the meaning, so get reckless with your words. Try this poem out for size:

i watch as the sun/ sets over the horisen/ the ocean pants/ like a wild monster/ breaths with heavy/ breath and then falls/ something small/ always gets lost/ in the mouth/ of agony

-------or-------

u r reel speciol/ like honi sweet/ from a candy bee.

- A good practice for a cleverly bad poet is to make the objects of the poem plural! Globalize your subject for an incredibly weak impact! "Trees are?" "People cry?" "Flowers bloom?" By pluralizing all the objects of the poem, you are blurring the imagery, thus making it sappy, intangible, and simply boring.

----------------------

Frequently Asked Questions of bad poets who want to be published but don't want to work:

-----------------

Q. Who are you to judge what a good poem is? A poem is like beauty; it is in the eye of the beholder!

A. Paul Valery once said, "a poem is never finished, only abandoned." You have to work on your poem. You have to find a certain clarity that will reach the reader. Sometimes we get so fogged up with our own emotions, we don't really see the true poem. Emotional outpours make excellent first drafts, but if you don't go any further then that, you aren't working hard enough to make your poem good-even in your own eyes. Also, as far a judging a poem is concerned, as long as you hope to publish your poetry, it will get judged. Know what these "judgers" are looking for.

Q. If clichés were so bad, why have they been around for so long?

A. Exactly!! Everyone understands clichés-almost to the point where they don't even mean anything anymore. Poetry is an art of expression and exposition. If you are too lazy to come up with the images yourself, then you aren't really writing poetry.

Q. I write poetry for personal reasons. It is my way of dealing with the world. Why should I care what you think about poetry?

A. You shouldn't. Unless you are trying to perfect your craft so that you can express yourself through literature in some publication, you can write any way you want. Just know, though, that if you post your poem for critique, you might get some honest criticism based on poetic technique. If that is not what you are looking to get, please let people know what you are looking to get.

Devrie Paradowski is a freelance writer and poet. Her poetry has been published by several literary journals and she has written dozens of articles for various publications including "Poetry Renewal Magazine," and "Poetryscams.com." She is the author of the chapbook, "Something In the Dirt," which can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/108560 . In 2001, Devrie founded a popular online literary community ( http://www.LiteraryEscape.com ) that has become highly respected for some of the most honest and in-depth poetic critique on the Internet. In keeping with her commitment to inspire amateur writers to hone their skills, she also founded a local writer's group called, "The Fire and Ice Writer's Group."

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


Recollections

I AM SO GRATEFUL for simpler times. Stores were closed... Read More

Im Sorry Mom! A Mothers Day Poem

Mother's Day Poetry,I'm Sorry Mom!I'm sorry for the troubles ... Read More

In The Midst Of All

In the midst of darkness, there is light. In... Read More

The Art of Receiving Poetic Critique

You can show your poem to your mom, your spouse,... Read More

RISK

Do not be afraid to shine. This world needs what... Read More

Exalted Poetry; Two poem [and commentary]

Bells for Belphegor!...Where immortal veils never meet Belphegor, Arch devil... Read More

The Gaul of La Laguna de Paca

Part OneI tell you a legend of long ago Of... Read More

Feelings, O How Glorious!

Sometimes we feel hard-pressed, Our backs against the wall;... Read More

Three Sweet Poems, and Two Not So Sweet [now in: SPANISH and English]

1) End PoemWherever you are today- Is where you were... Read More

Beautiful Dreamer, Stephen Foster, Americas First Folk Song Writer

"Beautiful Dreamer" was written by Stephen Foster just before his... Read More

In the Mountans of Haiti [A Poem: in English and Spanish]

In the Mountains of Haiti(In the City)-July is a hot... Read More

The Crusader: A Search for the Virtue Inside (an excerpt of an Epic Poem)

On through the darkness she searches the bones Seeking the... Read More

Never Ever More

Once upon a midnight dreary, coffee cold and vision... Read More

Savage Nature: The Life of Ted Hughes

One of the most important poets of the post-war period,... Read More

My Grannio

I never thought I would have to say GOODBYE to... Read More

Four Poems: Grendels Nature...the Racetrack...Counting days...[Now in English and Spanish]

English Version1) Grendel's DivorceYou must know that I do not... Read More

Article on Poetry and Two Poems

Writing Poetry for TomorrowWhat does a man need to be... Read More

Learn About Love From Poet Rumi

In this modern age of technology, busy lifestyles, and obsession... Read More

The Lull of Twilight [Over Mantaro Valley] In English and Spanish

Twilight, was now beginning. As forthe sun, it was down-down... Read More

Passion and Poetry, and Life

Ironically, the passion that can neutralize the repulsion for difficulties... Read More

Two Poems: Black Poncho, and Spirits of de Copan [in English and Spanish]

English Version12) Black Poncho(of Saint Cosme Hill, by Lima, Peru)Lost... Read More

Writing Innovative Poetry

Writing innovative poetry, the kind of poetry that reputable literary... Read More

Live For Today...

Isn't that what they say?But what does that mean?There's no... Read More

The Ballad of: Brawling Mad-dog Sergeant Rook [Now in: SPANISH and English]

English VersionA bunch of us guys in the hutIn ?Nam... Read More

Blind Designs [a Poem] and a Note by Rosa on The Other Door

Blind DesignsBorn today, gone tomorrow Like a butterfly with no... Read More

Five Poems from Home [And a view on the planet vs. the poet]

Five Poems from Home1) Remembering: Dorothy Parker [Dedicated to the... Read More

House of the Goblin [Part Two of Three/with notes]

House of the Goblin [Part Two of Three]Here is where,... Read More

The Valley Of Pain

We were exiled from the Garden of Eden. Its... Read More

An Old Wood Pile [a poem with notes]

Old skin, once held tight Against her skeleton- Rose no... Read More

Man Unbowed [A poem]

Man UnbowedUnbowed by sin, the world of man, stands Upon... Read More

Death & the Supernatural: Poetry/Five Poems

Supernatural PoetryHere are five poems,-what I call-death and supernatural poems.... Read More

The Butcher of Lima and Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Two Poems)

Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Peru; in English and Spanish)In what... Read More

Testimony to the Night [In English and Spanish]

In the quiet of the arctic night- In its deep... Read More