With Poetry being a big piece of our Fundraiser event (Speak your truth!: A night of emotional expression through words), we wanted to share some resources to better understand the art & encourage your own writing.  Valerie Bacharach, a published poet & educator,  provided some useful tips from workshops she hosts.  Read her emotional and inspiring story here (http://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2015/04/14/A-published-poet-teaches-writing-to-women-recovering-from-addiction/stories/201504140007).  Hope this augments your experience with poetry, whether you make it to our event or not…


What do you admire about the piece?

What is your emotional response to the piece? Try to articulate what you see going on in the poem. Some poems have a specific focus, some are more language-driven.

Are there any places of confusion?

Details: Any favorite details?

Words: Are there any words and phrases you particularly admire?  Any you think are overused, redundant, or could be more precise?

Images: Consider two or three images the writer uses and comment on their effectiveness.  Does the poem need more and/or different images?  Are there too many images—that distract?

Sound/music: Consider examples of language with effective musical quality such as rhyme—full or half, internal, end-rhyme, alliteration.

Pauses:  Do line-breaks and stanza breaks enhance rhythm and create any surprises, create a nice “flow”?

Comparisons:  Does the poet use any form of metaphor:  simile, direct metaphor, extended comparison, personification …Any favorite comparisons?


Write a poem about your childhood not by telling a story, but by using objects.
Write a poem using the title “Self Portrait as…”
Using a family photograph, write a poem based on it.
Make a list of words that are powerful to you: for example—memory, soul, truth… then pick one or more to use in a poem, or pick one and use it several times within one poem, but in unusual ways.
Choose one object, whatever pops into your mind first, write one or two lines about it. Now, look around a room in your house, in school, a store, list several objects to use in a poem that begins: “There is always…”
Write about anything & it is OK to use swear words (but too much use takes away the power of those words).  The only thing not to do is write something that is deliberately mean.


Poets and Writers website (www.pw.org)—lists of literary magazines, contests, etc.
writersalmanac.org (poem of the day)
https://www.poetryfoundation.org (poem of the day)
Poets.org (poem of the day)