Writing Poetry for Fun & Profit Writing

Poetry should be fun. It is a natural impulse. Small children start playing with words as soon as they can talk. We grow up loving nursery rhymes and song lyrics. Then we get to school and they make us hate poetry. They teach us it has feet. It has metre. Worst of all, it has meaning. And they were so wrong, the poor well-intentioned dears. I think back at some of the meanings my high school teachers and university profs told me to look for in even simple poems like “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and they were so, so wrong.

It took me writing three books of my own poetry before I could finally cast off the pall teachers had thrown over poetry and begin to read and write it for fun again. Now I deal with writers who want to be poets and face another problem. Most would-be-poets don’t want to have fun either, they want to use poetry to make themselves great. Immortal. Or at least sought-after invitees to Literary festivals. And to get a good gig at a college. They work hard at this, too hard, and load their poetry with heavy intentions and sophisticated technique that is impressive but doesn’t dance. They forget that poetry is first and foremost a dance of words. I will attempt to show attendees how to put the dance in their words and have fun with poetry again. Okay, I was lying about the profit part.

Howard White has published three books of poetry The Men There Were Then (Arsenal Pulp, 1980) The Ghost in the Gears (Harbour, 1991) and A Mysterious Humming Noise (Anvil, 2019). Plus he has published a lot of other stuff, including about 200 books of poetry by other people. Recently he has become a big fan of poetry on social media, which he suspects may be the best thing to happen to poetry since the invention of the lyre.