Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ten Steps to Writing Poetry

Earl Gray's 104th Law of Poetry

Q1. Why don't people read my poetry?

      This one is easy:

Reason #1:

      People don't read your poetry because poetry is a form of speech, not writing.  It is meant to be performed.  Aloud.  Not read.  Not read aloud.

Earl Gray's 154th Law of Poetry

Reason #2:  

      People don't read your poetry for the same reason you don't read theirs.  Or anyone else's.  No, it's not tit-for-tat or quid pro quo.  99% of golfers are duffers.  99% of chessplayers are patzers.  99% of bridgeplayers are palookas.  As in most avocations, 99% of poets are untrained and unskilled.  

Earl Gray's 35th Law of Poetry

 Q2. How can I get critics to read my poetry?

      Serious critics are few--there may be 200 worldwide--and extremely busy.  You'd have to master the basics and show determination before attracting such help.  Unless you are self-motivating, it is a Catch-22, like trying to get a job without experience...or experience without a job.  Lurk for a year on critical forums such as Poetry Free-For-All or Eratosphere before posting there.

Earl Gray's 56th Law of Poetry

Q3.  So what do I need to learn?

#1:  Humility.  Observe Scavella's Mantra:  "I'm not as good as I think I am."  
Earl Gray's 109th Law of Poetry
 #2:  Be teachable.  Tutor's motto:  "We can work with the clueless but not the clueproof."

Earl Gray's 44th Law of Poetry
#3:  Respect the art form.  Avoid the Convenient Poetics trap.  Learn why you will remember phrases from the great poems of the 21st century long after you forget everything else you read this month.

Earl Gray's 76th Law of Poetry

#4:  Start with a useful definition:  Poetry is verbatim.

Earl Gray's 67th Law of Poetry
 #5:  Learn basic scansion.

Earl Gray's 31st Law of Poetry
#6.  In five years, consider free verse (which doesn't mean what you think it means).

Earl Gray's 11th Law of Poetry
#7:  Learn sonics.

Earl Gray's 11th Law of Poetry
  #8:  Learn the difference between voice (which varies from poem to poem) and style (a usually unfortunate consistency between poems).

Earl Gray's 19th Law of Poetry

Earl Gray's 79th Law of Poetry
#9:  Practice performing in front of mirrors, then open mic crowds.

Earl Gray's 84th Law of Poetry
#10:  Post your finished performances online (e.g. YouTube).  Include that link whenever you submit text.

Earl Gray's 106th Law of Poetry
Q4:  This sounds daunting, doesn't it?

      Actually, no.  It can be the ride of your life.
Earl Gray's 57th Law of Poetry - Pearl's 1st Paradox

 Q5:  Can you give me a definition of poetry more involved than "verbatim" or "memorable"?


Earl Gray's 182nd Law of Poetry - Pearl's 4th Paradox
      Any other questions?


  1. I've been enjoying your posts and your perspective on poetry. I have some questions for you; I was wondering it's possible to DM you?

  2. If you have poetry-related questions please post them here. In the meantime we'll figure out a way chat.


Your comments and questions are welcome.