More Poetry Tips (Imaginary Gardens, Real Toads)

More Poetry Tips (Imaginary Gardens, Real Toads)

Wondering how to write a poem about spring?

(Hey, did you know we’re sponsoring a spring poem contest for young writers, ages 8 to 14?)

Here are some poetry writing tips:

“Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.
– Marianne Moore

I love this simple bit of advice from an American poet! Your poem is an imaginary place . . . but it helps to have specific things in it. Describe something real: a door, a person, a path, a tree . . .

“I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must write not outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett

The author of The Secret Garden, she knows it helps to actually look at what you are writing about . . . whether it is a flower or a bush or a bird.

Look over your poem and check the specific words you’ve chosen. Can you be more specific?

Did you say flower? So . . . what kind of flower? A tulip or a rose?

What color? Ruby red or soft pink? Red like a fire engine or soft like a sunset or . . .

Is the flower fresh or old and faded? It is standing straight up or leaning or . . . ? Details make your poem come to life.

And you can find those details by looking at things . . . really, really closely.

Mary Oliver, one of our finest American poets, said it like this:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

– Mary Oliver

Here’s a little bit of a Mary Oliver poem:

Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Look closely . . . have fun seeing the details . . . and write about it.

That’s the path to a spring poem.

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