Tagged: teaching creative writing

trying to teach students not to use clichés

With experience as a writer comes certainty about clichés (and their exceptions). Don’t use ’em exclamation point period. These worn-out formulas add nothing to the writing. Setting aside characters like Hamlet’s Polonius who spout clichés as a way of demonstrating that very fact. Yet I have students in upper level creative writing classes who will debate that there’s nothing wrong...

listen to an amazing poem by Gwendolyn Brooks

Here’s Major Jackson reading an amazing poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, “Negro Hero.” The reading is part of a series celebrating the 110th Anniversary of the Poetry Society of America.. Check out the series here: poetrysociety.org/features/reading-through-the-decades.

A little advice on poem titles

I think poets should avoid certain kinds of titles. Particularly one-word titles such as, for example, “Claustrophobia” or “Illness.” Now, not all one-word titles are a problem. I mean the kind that explain or broadcast the poem’s “theme” to the reader. By “theme” in this case I don’t mean literary theme, a general statement about the human condition that we...

poems are not school papers

So many of my intro to creative writing students can’t get out of the habit of writing poems like papers, planning a “topic,” and outlining the “points” they want to make. They think of poems as “meanings” decorated with pretty, poetic language. No! The purpose of a poem is to convey experiences and emotions, which carry possible meanings on their...

Poetry: Six Essential Principles

Here are six essential principles for writing lyric poetry. They are based on my many years of writing and studying “ars poetica,” the art of poetry. Keep these principles in mind when drafting and revising. 1. Poetry is Music A poem isn’t just words in a certain order. A poem is also made up of sounds the words make, arranged...

How to Succeed in an Online Course

Dear Students and Teachers: With many of us transitioning to teaching and taking courses online, we are learning that we need new ways to approach these courses. This tip sheet is one I present my students at the beginning of the semester, based on issues that come up in my courses. Though some tips specifically refer to Canvas, which is...