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Letting the Poem Breathe

Letting the Poem Breathe

When you write a poem, do you feel like you are wrestling with it? Twisting its arm behind its back until it sinks onto the ground and looks up at you with sorrowful eyes and the words "I surrender" on its lips? Do you hit it hard in the kidneys until it vomits metaphors back at you?

I always, without exception, find that if you treat the poem gently then it opens up and shares its secrets with you, where if you try and force secrets out it will clam up and leave you with a disturbingly dense block of text that refuses to yield.

Sometimes I write a poem quickly, with the words jumping into place on the page; other poems enjoy repeated visits, with small adjustments, some sharpening the edges and others rounding the corners. Sometimes they like to be tickled and other times they prefer to be kissed.

If you are in tune with the poem then you can instinctively feel how the poem wishes to be written. I put a new poem onto my poems page earlier this week, Whispering Poetry, which was a very quick scribble, no more than 5 minutes top to toe, because that is how the poem wanted — needed — to be done. It didn't want to be pondered over with individual words being swapped around and the thesaurus raided for more colourful images. I always feel that even in my densest poems, I want to feel that the poem is still able to breathe.

That is my suggestion for this week: make sure your completed poem is still able to breathe.

Published inPoetry


  1. Great advice, Giles. I know what you mean about forcing the issue. Great post!

  2. Giles Giles

    thanks, Audrey 🙂

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