A Conversation for How to Write Bad Poetry


Post 1

Josie Whitehead

When I have just read "How to write bad poetry" I was appalled to see that the writer mentioned "bad poetry" and rhyming and rhythm as contributors of bad poetry. This is quite wrong. Poetry, with its measured feet, comes from dancing and music and was well linked to this in the past. In fact many good poems are also songs.

I have only been writing for four years, encouraged initially by children at my local primary school, who told me they hated some of the modern poetry and showed me a "poem" which was a sentence spiralling down a page. I agreed that this would not suit me also. Since then I have written 700 new poems, and most of them have rhyming and metre/rhythm in them, and I haven't just written for children.

Last year the 480 poems I had written then, went out to schools in West Yorkshire, taken there by an educational publisher. 344 of my poems have been published in five books and a small animated film has been made of one of my poems.

I have written many articles on my website which should help people to write good poetry, and if you care to go to the website (Google: JOSIE'S POEMS) you might find something to help you, and I hope that you will find something to interest you in the many poems I display on this website. I made it at the request (no, insistence) of the children who wanted somewhere, at the time, to go to read my poetry away from school. I made the website 20 months ago and in that time 262,000 visitors have been from all over the world to date.

So, please do not listen to those who tell you that rhyming and rhythmic poetry (or metered poetry) is bad: If you are writing for children, in particular, this is exactly what teachers are looking for in their classrooms, for if you Google PHONEMIC AWARENESS - RHYTHMIC AND RHYMING POETRY, you will see why this is so very important. I have just written a poem called "Poetry in Motion" and how could one write such a poem with no rhythm in it? Children are losing interest in poetry once they are at school and are thinking just what they told me. If a few can tell me this, there must be thosuands who think the same. Therefore agents are loath to take on poetry because they say "there is no money in it." The bookshops are bereft of poetry books, especially for children, because many children, once out of school, are glad to shut the door on what has been presented to them in recent years. True, there are some excellent children's poems out there, but a lot needs to be done to produce more if we are going to get children enjoying poetry I feel.

In order to be a poet, over many hundreds of years, the writer would have had to have understood how metre for poetry was made, and they would have studied the various rhythms that can be put into poetry. Any writing other than this would have been classed as prose, and yes, you do need to know about alliteration, assonance, personification, metaphors, figurative language etc etc if you wish to be a poet. Your work must stand out as an art form, head and shoulders above flat prose. Sorry, writer of How to Write Bad poetry, but someone has to disagree with what you have said.

It is sad to think that teachers who teach children how to write poetry in schools have probably never written a poem, and certainly not had any published, and yet have to teach. Would you have a music teacher teach your child how to play the piano if they knew nothing about the structure of music, and how the various rhythms etc are made, and even how to play the instrument? Yet people think they can pick up a pen and write anything, split it into small lines with breaks at random and put the title poetry onto it. All of this must surely not be right. Yes, it would be interesting to have some follow up to this.

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