The Poetry No-Fly List

1 Dec

This is the font you should always use.

Writing poetry is easy.  Writing good poetry is not.  Anyone can make lines rhyme and say something profound, but if you want your poetry to stand out to both your reader and possibly to publishers, here is a friendly list of words and phrases I’ve found that are probably good to avoid:

1) mirror of my mind – i still don’t even really know what this is supposed to mean, but i’ve seen it too many times.  the mirror of your mind…is your mind right?  i don’t know, but i do know your poem’s not getting in.
2) thou art true – thou art being pretentious.  stop it.
3) soaring spirit – this will not make your poem soar.  quite the contrary.
4) crystal clear – while this shows us some kind of
5) juxtaposed – this word is good in literary criticism, but not in poetry.
6) purple twilight – twilight is often seen as dark black or dark purple.
7) truth and beauty – who do you think you are?  oscar wilde?  you’ll never be as big a dick as him.  that’s the only reason he got away with stuff like that.
8 ) drenched in light – this is the kind of phrase that I can read in a poem and want to stop reading instantly.
9) soul-enhancing – what?  what does this even mean?
10) strife – conflict.  it means conflict.  just say that.  so overused.
11)  eternal sleep – just say death.  please.  i can’t use the words “tired and cliche” enough.
12)  veil is parted – ILLUMINATING.  REVEALING.  these are actually better than that.
13)  heart – okay.  this is quite the topic.  writing a love poem is like walking through a minefield.  it can be done, but only very, very carefully.  breaking hearts, ripping hearts, tearing hearts, all of these are just bad ideas.  using imagery in poetry is like buying produce.  you only want the FRESHEST ideas.  stale and previously used ideas just taste bad in general.
14)  on golden wings – see #11.
15)  dwelt – lofty word meaning to have lived in a place.  lofty poetry can push the reader away.  never a good decision.
16)  O time – o….no.  this is not 1840.
17)  heavenly sphere – just say the planet you’re referring to.  so much easier.  MARS.  PLUTO.  see?
18)  night is falling – see #14.
19)  shaft of light – first of all. shaft. hahahahaha.  secondly, this is super overused.
20)  afar – distance in writing can always be a touchy subject.  you can say a mile, or ten feet, but please don’t use this.  afar is just so old and unnecessary
21)  voice of the wind – the wind has a voice.  we’ve been hearing this since we were five.  we don’t need to hear about it anymore.
22)  alas – again, not 1840 anymore.  you are not edgar allen poe.
23)  memory weaves – memories are not baskets or reeds to be weaved and made into some kind of folk art craft.  Memories do not weave.  just…no.
24)  curse words – unless you are really good at writing like a pompous ass, using curse words in poetry has like a 3% success rate.  you are not that good.  cut it.
25)  radiant glow – i think glow isn’t the problem here.  it’s the fact that radiant is so overused that it has stopped radiating in general.  radiating heat is fine, but radiating light is as old as the sun.
26)  golden mist – wait…what?  this seems a bit too sexual.
27)  voice of woe – who’s voice is this?  and why is he woeful?  what are you even trying to say?
28)  threads of memory – see #23. You cannot make a sweater out of memories.  leave it be.
29)  shadow of death – death hanging over you?  are you hiding from the heat in this shadow?  you cannot even turn this phrase back in for parts, its so old.
30)  dying embers – embers die.  but you don’t have to tell us.
31)  crimson tide – 1) don’t use this for period metaphors. 2) if you do not go to Alabama University, don’t use this.
32)  endless horizon – see #34.
33)  dewdrops – the single most cliche thing to say about the morning.  ever.  ever.
34)  infinity – this implies that something will either go on forever, or has no limit whatsoever.  infinity in poetry is nothing attractive.  give the poem limits.  ground it.  
35) I love you more than anything I’ve known
– I love you too and all, but you can probably relate to SOMETHING  that comes close to our love.  our relationship is not the most powerful bond ever made.



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