Techniques - Ellis Campbell, 8. Not Too Personal & 9. Terminology

Ellis Campbell's Writing Techniques - 8. Don't Make Your Poems Too Personal
Too many poets write personal poems and enter them in competitions or publish them in self-published books. Judges are not impressed - nor are readers of the book. Remember that a personal poem is usually just that. Because you are writing on a subject dear to your heart don’t assume that everyone will like it. Write a poem about your mates at the bowling club and they will slap you on the back and say, "You’re a bloody genius! I don’t know how you do it!" Possibly the poem has more faults than a porcupine has quills, but they like it simply because they are in it - and don’t know the first thing about the rudiments of Bush Verse.

 

Anyone who does not know the characters involved will be bored to death by it. If your dear departed Uncle Fred had been a war hero, an outback drover, a daring lion-tamer, a distinguished buckjump rider, famous racing car driver or some such thing it is fine to write a poem about him. But if you are only writing about him because he was your favourite uncle and you remember how he always gave you lollies when you were a kid - it has to be a piece of sensitive writing or something quite humorous. Otherwise you end up with a poem that will bore everyone to death, excepting - maybe - a few relatives. I put this obsession with personal poems down to lack of inspiration.

 

A poet gets an urge to compose a poem but can't think of a subject. After sitting there day dreaming until sundown he notices old Tom from across the road limping out to water his garden. That's it, he thinks, I’ll write a poem about Tom. Unless the poet is an accomplished and sensitive writer, this poem is doomed to failure. But the accomplished and sensitive writers are rarely lacking in inspiration. Next: “Padding” words to fit

 

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Ellis Campbell's Writing Techniques -9. Terminology
A few months ago I wrote on Poetic Terminology and touched upon Alliteration, Enjambment and Imagery - all important. This issue we will look at a few more, of varying importance. "Rhyming couplet," means two consecutive similar lines that have end rhyming.


A "stanza" is a group of lines separated from others by a space. A stanza can be anything from two lines up to anywhere, but I prefer four, six or eight lines - as I have previously stated.

 

"Mid rhyme" or "internal rhyme" as the term implies, is simply a word in the middle rhyming with the word at lines end. A couple of examples from my poem The Gambling Man.

"A defacto wife named Vera stuck like glue to Dan the shearer".


"Like a breath of winter chillness came the hush of eerie stillness".

 

Another form of internal rhyme is when two consecutive lines have words that rhyme in the middle and two different words rhyming on lines end.

Example from my poem, "Remember Chubby? "

"Last man in when playing cricket - never made the foot ball team;
without score he lost his wicket, lost his cap and self-esteem"


Another example from my poem Rescue For Rowdy.
"A drop of bourbon he enjoyed and ouzo to relax and brandy with the unemployed, who called for little snacks".

 

Onomatopoeia is the using of sound effects to draw attention to something. "Pow! " "Wheooo --" "Bang!" "Whizz--", etc. Comic books rely heavily on onomatopoeia to get their point across.

 

There is a difference in "Blank Verse" and "Free verse" but I don’t think my readers are too concerned about either! "Prose" is any other form of writing other than poetry. Short stories, novels, etc.