- Do not overuse similes, saying something is like something else. Poetry is usually improved by metaphor. The yellow sun is like an egg yolk can become the sun is yellow as an egg yolk or the sun is egg yolk yellow or simply the sun is an egg yolk or just the egg yolk sun. Then you can start thinking about albumen clouds.
- Beware the use of weak verb endings. A phrase sounds more dynamic, direct and active without them. The dog is barking is made more immediate when the dog barks.
- Doubly beware the use of adverbs and adjectives, which lack precision and again weaken your phrases. Instead of he runs quickly say he hurries or he hastens. Otherwise, devise a metaphor involving a zephyr or some such fast moving thing, unless it clutters the scene.
- Avoid repetition. You may have favourite turns of phrase and images, but should employ each one only once in a manuscript – unless making a deliberate cross-reference or echo.
- Be specific. For example, when you say bird, you may picture a starling while the reader sees a sparrow. This affects the accuracy and effectiveness of your images. It is like using a generic piece of clip art rather than an actual photograph. Remember, names have power. A dove and a hawk are both birds, but symbolize contradictory attributes.
- In a similar way, when you say something, you are avoiding the challenge of articulating more exactly what that thing may be.
- It is so easy to fall back on well worn phrases and sayings, especially when they convey exactly what you want to express. But poetry is about communicating your unique point of view, your personal thoughts and experiences. Place yourself in the situation. What do you honestly think and feel? What does each of your 5 senses tell you? Remove the filters through which you normally perceive the world and admit the truth, no matter how painful. Only resort to cliché in the interest of bathos or irony. Show, don’t tell.
- Be careful about asking the reader questions, unless you answer them. It can sound badgering and the reader may feel backed into a corner and demand How the **** do I know? You tell me! Even a rhetorical question can be problematic, as it assumes the reader sees things the same way you do.
- Exclamation marks are, of course, beyond the pale.
- The first draft of a poem is often a journey into mystery and you don’t know where it’s going until you arrive at the end. Looking back over your path, you may see all sorts of twists and turns and diversions and dead ends you mistakenly took on the way. For the benefit of fellow travellers who follow after, it is probably best to simplify your route. This is also known as kill your darlings.
CERASUS Magazine is now available to buy on Amazon as a full colour A4 size 44 page paperback, priced at £5.99, featuring poetry and prose by Seth Crook, Jim Ferguson, George Gunn, SJ Howarth, Maxine Rose Munro, Zach Murphy, Penny Sharman & Morelle Smith.
Or to download as an ebook from the CERASUS Magazine Ko-fi Shop.
It is my pleasure and honour to announce the Final Winners of the 2020 Cerasus Poetry Olympics:
Gold Medal: ICELAND (Mark Kilburn)
Silver Medal: FIJI (Sophie Norton)
Bronze Medal: OMAN (John Gallas)
Laurel Wreath: PERU (India Halstead)
Many congratulations to 4 most worthy champions and to everyone else who took part in this competition and made it such a positive experience (though by no means easy) to judge.
Please note that, for the duration of the Coronavirus epidemic in the UK, we will not be selling any books via our website. This is to avoid visits to the Post Office, which tends to be always crowded, in order to maintain ‘social distancing’.
All titles are still available on Amazon.
Stay safe everyone.
John Wilks is the Editor in Chief of Cerasus Poetry.
‘According To The Dandelions’ is a compilation of 50 of his poems, extracted from the body of work he has written over the past 50 years, loosely themed around Childhood.
His own childhood and adolescence, as you might be able to calculate, took place in the 1960s and 70s, so much of the content is nostalgic for those times. But don’t be fooled, it is not necessarily autobiographical.
The purpose of this compilation is to raise money for the BBC Children In Need Appeal and it is guaranteed that, for each and every copy of this book sold, £5 will be donated to that charity.
Read a review on ABCtales.
Please note, although the theme is Childhood, much of the content is adult in nature and not suitable for children.
A free ebook in Portable Document (.pdf) format, featuring poems from all our published poets, is now available.
Whether you want to read a sample before you buy, or to gauge the type of work we accept before you submit your own, you can download a copy below.
Also available in paperback for £2.99 from Amazon.
“Words are my arthropod feelers with which I carefully sense my way in an outbranching world…
When a poem is a true expression of feeling, it can be liberating. The pace and timing of words reveal a full and surprising range of meaning, which I believe is best expressed through the use of simple language. While I like to depict the scale of events, scenery and emotions, I prefer to do so almost invisibly.
Poems are small on the page, but can swell to fill the mind.
In this collection, poems drift in and out of inner space, explore loss and death, love and feelings, forever interwoven with a thicket of branches, enlivened by an occasional cluster of colourful blooms.”
Ewan takes us from his days as a self confessed adolescent arsehole, through his time as a cold warrior, to his abandoned attempt to become an ex-pat writer in exile, taking stock of his relationship with his father and various skirmishes with women on the way.
Yet he also takes us deeper into the past, to when it used to be all fields round here, to where an endless game of Risk had already long been played on a blood soaked board with real soldiers for counters.
It is tempting to believe that his years spent flying reconnaissance missions, with the world spread out below him unscrolling like a campaign map, tinged with hours of boredom and barrack room banter, shaped his poetic viewpoint, giving him a detached and strategic approach to deploying words.
But there is heart here, just not pinned to the sleeve of his flight jacket.