Passing Along Workshop Info
by Barbara Eknoian

The first lines of your poem
that inspire you to write
may just be scaffolding.
Chop it off at the top
you don’t need it anymore
For sure, avoid adverbs
use strong verbs instead
Think twice about adding
those adjectives like
glorious sky, massive rock
gorgeous gown
Sky, rock, gown
should be able to hold
their own in your poem.
Try to include some slant rhyme
it adds to the musicality
Don’t offer so much explanation
After all, poets are discerning
If you can, begin with a preposition
it will place you somewhere
The poem on the page
should look tidy
readers are visual too.
Those uneven lines are unsightly
Eliminate tiny words like “a” and “the”
so it doesn’t sound so prosy
Be certain not to wind up
with an editorial at the end
instead of an image
Try enjambment, runover lines
to create some tension
don’t rest at the end of the line
make the reader think twice about
why you have separated New
from England
You should strive for a metaphor
in place of a ho-hum simile
as: She sings like an angel
Never ever use the term
“first light”
Eyebrows will rise at the workshop
You might even hear a guffaw
When it comes to meter,
if you don’t know a spondee
from a (DUM da DUM),
stick to narrative or fiction

PHOTO: Ladder to the Moon by Georgia O’Keeffe (1958).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After taking poetry workshop classes for so many years, this poem flowed out of my psyche. Since I’ve listened to so many instructions about do’s and don’t’s in how-to-write poetry, I kind of wrote it tongue-in-cheek. All of the information I’m passing on is as true as I can recall. I figured this would give beginning poets some good writing tips.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian writes narrative poetry and novels. Her work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, Red Shift, and several of Silver Birch Press’s anthologies: Silver, Green, Summer, and Self-Portrait. Her poetry book, Why I Miss New Jersey, and her latest novel, Hearts on Bergenline Avenue, are available at Amazon.