Sarah Barr

Writer, poet and teacher

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

What else Does a Poem Need?

My friend, poet Gill Horitz and I have been selecting for the next edition of South poetry magazine. We did this over late December and early January and passed many happy hours browsing through and carefully reading hundreds of poems.

In my previous blog I mentioned some of the things we looked for in a poem. Adding to those thoughts:

The substance of a poem needs to be chipped away at, crafted and shaped. Try not to over-layer your poem with too many ideas and metaphors. Keep editing, longer than you may feel is necessary. Trust your reader to fill in the gaps.

Writers who have been to my workshops and courses know that I think titles are incredibly important. A title can add so much and even lift a poem to another level.

Now I am thinking about The Next Big Thing as I have been ‘tagged’ by historical novelist Maria McCann and I have questions to answer. More in my next post!

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What I Look For in a Poem

Over Christmas and New Year I’ve been selecting poems for a forthcoming issue of a poetry magazine. I’ve been doing this with my co-selector and friend, Gill Horitz.

We’ve had a wonderful time reading and re-reading hundreds of poems. It has got us talking about what makes a successful poem, and what we look for in a poem.

During our afternoon meetings, we drank tea, ate mince pies and biscuits to keep up our energy levels. We may have got a little drunk – but on language not mulled wine!

There are so many things to consider!

For me, a poem has to have something to say. Also, I want the poem to say it freshly, with originality.

Gill and I read some wonderful descriptions but we agreed that we wanted the poem also to take us to a deeper level.

Different poets may look for different things but these are my thoughts which I will continue with soon.

Winter Night

Winter Night

Something wakes us in the small hours
and we’re standing at the window
above the neat beds of snowdrops
watching the shadows
the black on black
of rhododendron laurel pine
waiting until we hear
that unmistakable raw cry
because then we know
the foxes are back.

First published in South poetry magazine issue 23

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Sarah Barr
2000

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