Mr. McAteer’s Five Inviolate Rules of Poetry

  1. A poem doesn’t mean anything.  A poem says something.  Only a reader can make meaning.
  2. Good poems have in them a specific location, and movement from and/or toward that location.
  3. Poems are written in sentences.  You achieve clarity by using subjects and verbs.
  4. Literal details are more important than figurative details.
  5. Poems are built on tensions, resistance and other two-nesses; otherwise, they’re simply declarations.

Remember, writing to express yourself is like throwing up: something comes out of you, but who wants to look at it?  If you get stuck in self-expression, remember rule 5.

Leave a Reply