Tips for writing good poetry – Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom for 10 years – and he’s come up with 10 tips to help you write good poetry.

You’ll find the full 10 in the original BBC article here.

Here are a few tips (in my words)

  • write from life, about real life as it’s lived now
  • what are you truly interested in? write about that
  • get skilled in the craft of poetry writing and use all those tools
  • read a lot, keep revising, keep writing
  • find your own best time of day to write

and a huge observation in Andrew Motion’s original language:

Reading your poetry out loud is crucial and absolutely indispensable because wherever we reckon the meaning of a poem might lie, we want to admit that it’s got as much to do with the noise it makes when we hear it aloud, as it has to do with what the words mean when we see them written down on the page.

In a really fundamental way, I think poetry is an acoustic form and we’ve slightly forgotten that in the last thousand years. Since the invention of the book, the aliveness of poetry has been perhaps slightly pushed to the edge of things.

For 5 minutes, he was interviewed with a string of questions – watch this for quick transfer of information:

In the short video above, he answers some big questions on (deep breath):

  • what is the difference between prose and poetry
  • how important is rhyme? does it have to be there in poetry?
  • what are you trying to achieve when you write a poem?
  • how did you come to writing poetry (answer: inspiring English teacher)

If someone isn’t ‘into poetry’ – where could they begin?

Andrew Motion: “I think they should buy a big fat anthology of poetry, and when they hit somebody that they like, they should persevere, go and get that person’s individual collection – and when they don’t like it, they should turn over the page and wait until they get to someone they feel is more sympathetic to them.”

Creative Takeaway

Expand your experience of poetry – read wider – by applying the same principle as for the beginner to poetry – get an anthology, and from it find new names/styles which fascinate you.  Then check out those individuals.

Try writing early in the morning – at one point, when Andrew Motion was writing a novel, he wrote from 5.30 am to 9.00 am.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s