When my students ask me
“What makes a good poem?”
I find it difficult to find
A desirable explanation
For such a phenomenon.

I tell them
It’s generally a matter of opinion
But if it’s up to me
You’ll have a recipe
Consisting of a number of stanzas

Built around sentences split by
The odd simile will jump out like a flea
Off a cat’s back.
Of course

There is usually a degree of rhyme
Internal or couplets
And an irregular rhyming structure
Means you back off from the typical
And into creative territory

Metaphors should cascade off the page
And alliteration?
A touch of assonance
And some onomatopoeic reference

And of course
Try to avoid




They’ll just make you
like a pretentious twit.

Try to channel Armitage
Speak about experiences
That have made you a better man.
And remember
There’s nothing more annoying than
A poem that ends at a sudden point
Halfway through a


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