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Voices for the Planet: 3 more Choice Poetry Tips

We invited our wonderful poetry expert, Gail Ingram, to contribute a couple of tips for aspiring poets. Gail gave us SEVEN tips! Here are the final three.

Gail is an acclaimed poet and sought -after poetry editor.

If you enter a poem for Write On Speak Out: Voices for the Planet, chances are you will be lucky enough to have Gail as your mentor!

Gail says:

We can no longer swim in our rivers, our coral reefs are dying, our very planet is in danger. What can one person do to make a difference to this unwieldy seemingly out-of-hand threat of climate change? The simple answer is to do whatever you can, and to do it through the medium you do best. If you are a mother, you can teach your children to pick up their litter and turn off the dripping tap; if you are a farmer, you can fence your streams and use sustainable practices; and if you are a writer, you can influence others through your choice of powerful words.

But how to make your words powerful when everyone’s trying to shout the same thing – ‘Save the Planet from Plastic! Save the Polar Bears!’ Terrible as this may sound, this same old message becomes boring and, on top of that, most people don’t want to be told what to do!

Here are the final three of Gail's seven choice tips to keep your voice fresh and powerful!

# TIP 5

poetry is playing with language just as much as ideas – so play!

Deliberately choose quirky words and surprising linebreaks, yes, but also repeat words, listen to the sounds of letters, find chords and choruses in your lines, circle back to the beginning as though you are writing a song. Read your poem out loud and listen to the rhythm.

Look how Janet Newman uses repetition of words in this poem: rain, promise, come, clouds, black, broken, kingfisher.


The kingfisher calls for rain

but the rain does not come

although clouds gather

over the Tararuas,

promise the coming

of rain but the promised rain

doesn’t come

so the soil cracks

and hardens beneath

clouds black as broken

promises that blacken

the broken eye of the lagoon

that looks for the kingfisher

but the kingfisher does not come.

Janet Newman Unseasoned campaigner (2021)

# TIP 6

Use your experience and your voice!

Janet writes about drought, and she knows about drought because she is a farmer. She knows the lagoon dries up black – not brown or grey – because she has seen it; she has observed it closely. Poets are like scientists; they observe objects microscopically. Use personal, particular and vivid language to describe your experience.

# TIP 7

after you have written your fIrst draft, write it again! Redraft. Edit.

Experiment/play with the order of lines and the language. Delete unnecessary repetition and cliches. Add surprising details and interesting similes. Read it out loud to check the rhythm. Test it on a friend and adjust. Have fun!

Thanks, Gail!

And thanks to Janet for her wonderful poem. Read more of Janet's work in her book Unseasoned Campaigner.

We will post a couple of prompts from Gail shortly :)

We look forward to reading your poems! See here to submit!

(c) Write On 2022


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