1. Poems are not purely narrative; stories are! If you want to write a story “by god” write a story, but don’t call it a poem. I speculate that most narrative poems are short-short versions of stories written by writers – who don’t have the skill, patience or time to write a whole short story.
2. Free verse does not mean that you should completely ignore rhythms and line breaks. Help your readers – one long ass, run on sentence, without punctuation; that takes up a whole page, is not innovative (it’s already been done). It disrespects your reader’s intelligence, shows the world that you are only merely cleaver, and is pabulum masquerading as a poem.
3. Don’t put two contrasting metaphors in one verse or sentence – it just won’t hold together for your readers. Here is an example: “I was hearing a picture of you standing in a well of feeling looking for water”. That’s a line that truly crashes, as the mind of your reader tries to make sense of the way your use of “metaphors” and “predicates” collides and shatters into each other.
4. If you write a poetry blog as a daily confession about how “no one listens to you” and then choose fonts and contrasting background colors that make it difficult for your viewers to read your pearls of wisdom – then guess what – not only will you not have people listening to you , you won’t have people able to read you either.
5. Consider that applying terms like “Postmodernism” and “Post-Postmodernism” to your poetry is you engaging in an intellectual mind fuck. Good poetry first lands in the heart long before it wends its way to the head (this will always be true, except for those poets and readers who are members of the “I am smarter than you” cabal – hell bent on living their lives in the mind, rather than remembering that just below their noses is this incredible thing called “the body”).
6. If your poem does not shout from the page then no amount of voice or invective will carry it to a listener’s ear when you shout it from a stage.
7. Dear Slam Poet: Isn’t nice that you have found a way to get along with big brother – that you have found a way to be like a corporate cohort smothering the competition – that you have found a way to weed out the weak poets amongst you and in a Darwinian manner leave them bleeding on the stage. Well done O’ ye gladiators of truth justice and the “I am hipper then you way”.
8. Please consider editing. I know that an angel or a devil personally whispered an opus in your ear – and that all of your words are holy, and that you once read Ginsberg stating that the first time is the best time – but that just does not stand up to the test of reading. It’s true that your first draft is a large part of why you write (your reporting the words of a muse, etc.) but remember, writing is a craft, and as craft, your poems should go through several iterations before finding themselves on your blog or printed on a page. And by the way you will be doing all of us a big favor in the process.
9. Read the masters, if for no other reason then to critique them. Study the evolution of poetry in a non-academic manner – who were these poets writing for, how were they received in their own times, what do you love about their poems, and what do you hate about them?
10. Poetry is about resonance; it’s the use of language in a manner consistent with and contemporaneous with its time. Remember the vernacular of the sub-culture of you audience – appeal to them by glorifying their understandings about “place”, “time”, and “dignity”.