When poets don’t read poetry


When Poets Don’t Read Poetry


How a Lack of Reading Shows in Your Work

There’s no rule that says every person who writes poetry must read poetry. Plenty of poets write for the sole purpose of personal expression. Poetry writing can be therapeutic, cathartic, and enjoyable. Nobody needs to read in order to write such poetry. But there’s a difference between writing for oneself and writing for an audience of strangers.

When you don’t read or study poetry, it shows in your work. There are identifiers that expose a lack of readership; here are some of the most common clues:

  • Forced rhymes: You can only think of one word that rhymes with lonely, so you force it into your poem even though it makes no sense or interferes with the poem’s focus.
  • Meter mishaps: You can’t find a way to arrange the words so that the meter remains intact. Oh well, you decide, and break the meter pattern for that one line. You hope nobody will notice, but everybody does, because that one line throws off the entire flow of the poem.
  • Square pegs: Similar to meter mishaps, this is when the language is forced to meet the meter, resulting in phrasings that sounds super awkward because the poet is trying to say something in five syllables that simply cannot be said in less than ten.
  • Word blizzard: Probably the most common mark of an unread poet is the sheer wordiness of a poem. There are often tons of unnecessary words, and the poem reads more like natural speech or choppy prose than crafted poetry.
  • Art has no editor: This is the mark of many amateur writers, not just poets. But it’s especially common for poets to think that a poem must remain pure, existing in its first-draft from for all of eternity. No editing! These poems are unrefined, peppered with typos, and often display all the other hallmarks of poets who are not well read in their form.

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