LITR 3731 Creative Writing

Midterm: Poetry submission

Poetry submission & revision account:

  • Submit one lyric poem, either free-verse or fixed-form (sonnet, ballad, villanelle, etc.). 

  • Every poem must have a title.

  • You may submit 1-3 additional poems, but you are not required or expected to. No automatic credit for extra effort.

  • Length: The poem you submit for a grade should be at least 50 words or there’s just not much to work with or respond to. If you’re having trouble developing material . . .

    • Introduce more imagery or extend the development of existing images

    • Ask readers and reviewers what they want more of

    • What ambiguities might be clarified or worked out? What pleasures or tones might be extended?


Type of poem (options)

Rhymed or unrhymed

Metrical or free-verse

Academic or popular verse—lofty language and fresh thoughts, or familiar language and sentimental thoughts


Getting started: 

  • If writing poetry is unfamiliar to you, your best moves are to review the textbook chapters and Model Assignments of previous submissions.

  • Or read some poems you like for inspiration—Dickinson, Whitman, Billy Collins

  • For the “muse” or inner voice of poetry to speak, listen.

  • Don’t force a poem to happen—let it happen. One word or phrase calls to another.

  • Start writing and see what you like—what appeals to sight or sound?

  • Cut the parts that don’t work, keep the parts that do.

  • Continue the expansion-reduction pattern—try parts out, cut the failures, follow the sweetness

  • A number of tentative students have avoided traditional lyric explorations of subtle emotions. Instead they’ve attempted narrative poems or humorous poems. Examples:


Grading standards:

Quality of lyric poetry is complex to judge, but my years of teaching Creative Writing find me consistently reacting to these items:

  • Quality and development of imagery

  • Integrity and wholeness—does the poem make sense? Does it matter?

  • Emotional impact—poignancy, irony, fun, pleasure, love, concern, appreciation


Note: Even if you do a poetry presentation, you may also continue to revise your poem through informal draft exchanges, which you may report in revision accounts.