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Tip Tuesday #42

I have another great tip today from Ryan who's finally started a blog! It's called The Writer's Arsenal and Ryan will be tackling grammar topics and demonstrating how knowledge of grammar can help in creating voice, pacing, tension, etc. Please subscribe and see what he has to say. But before you go, here's his tip!

To me, one of the best things a writer can do is read and study poetry. We often forget the different things we can achieve through writing, and by looking at poetry, where different techniques are more obvious, we can find so many more tools to use. For example, poetry is a great thing to look at for pacing. If we look at the way poems speed or slow our reading, we can try to put that in our own writing. If we read a poem that uses long lines, but you get a random staccato two-word sentence, it stops us and draws our attention. We can do that in prose too. Beyond pacing, poetry can really help with imagery, metaphor, and attention to details. Since every word matters, we can also better see how our word choice effects the reader in poetry. Some great poets for pacing are: Allen Ginsberg, Olga Broumas and Jorie Graham. Some poets who have terrific imagery are: Brigit Pegeen Kelly and Sharon Olds. To see great examples of voice, check out: Frank O'Hara, Ai, Amber Tamblyn (yes, she's a terrific poet too), and Kenneth Koch.

Great tip, Ryan! I did a study on voice during my last term at school and my professor had me pick up a book of poetry called Asphalt Georgics by Hayden Carruth. It was really interesting to see how voice can be established in so few words.


  1. I agree, Ryan. Poetry can be a great educator.

  2. Poetry scares me, but I am an adventurer.

    Also, Ryan, I tried to comment on your Writer's Arsenal blog and it wouldn't let me.

  3. Excellent tip, Ryan! Following your blog now!

    Also, I wrote on this topic myself a couple months ago. Check it out for examples:


  4. This is a timely post for me since my instructor at a workshop suggested I study poetry. Thank you for the suggestions.

  5. What? Another great blog to follow?

    I guess having too many is a good problem to have. :)

  6. That's a great idea. Thanks for the tip, Ryan and Casey.

  7. Visited Ryan's blog but can't follow. Has he disabled it or is my blogger broken?

  8. Excellent tip Ryan. I really struggle to get a handle on voice.

  9. awesome tip. thanks so much for the advice!!

  10. Great idea. I admire poets in the same way I do picture book writers -- they both have to do much with few words. I look forward to checking out some of the poets you suggested. My favorite poet is Pablo Neruda, although I've only read him in translation.

  11. I always begin my classes with a poem.. Totally agree with Ryan. :)

    Happy Tuesday!

  12. Ooo, love this tip. Thanks for sharing. Hopping over to his blog now! :)

  13. Thanks everyone, I hope to post a guide to tenses, and another on adding tension on the sentence level this week!

    @ Jonathan - Strange about the commenting, I had somebody else comment, and it seemed to work for them. Maybe it was a temporary thing--Well, I hope it was, because I'm not sure what to do about that.
    @Matthew - I added a follow box (I had trouble with the design and it got deleted) so that should solve the problem.