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Break your lines

Do read Ann and Peters writing tip first that goes with this exercise:

Have a look at how various writers break their lines and particularly to seek out a piece of blank verse – and then write a piece of contemporary blank verse.


  • Iambic pentameter as we know has nine, ten or eleven syllables to allow five stresses in a pattern of unstressed stressed/unstressed stress etc. syllables. E.g. ‘And leave/ the world/ to dark/ ness and/to me.’
  • Nowadays we still see roughly five stressed syllables in a line but often in among several more unstressed syllables.
  • Now mostly we want verse to be smart-casual, nearer to real speech, or at any rate we prefer it to disguise its poetry.
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Blank verse

We’re often asked about lineation. How we put the words (or how they put themselves) on the page…

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Experimenting with structure

Try experimenting for a week or two, using a structure you’re not used to – perhaps a form,…

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Getting it written, getting it right

We’re fond of quoting Hunter Davies, the great biographer of the Beatles and Alfred Wainwright (and Wayne Rooney),…

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Trusting the power of gravity

As a competitive fellrunner (and avid cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer etc. etc. you get the idea) I’m fascinated by…

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Don’t write poems – write an artwork, a musical composition, a dance

What if we quit thinking of poetry as a literary form, and instead conceive of it as a…

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Expressing the inexpressible

This exercise is very simple, but it’s an exercise that touches on both the material and language of…

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Writing the unspoken

quicken: to accelerate; to impart energy or liveliness to; to invigorate; to stimulate; to give life to; to…

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An art collaboration

You don’t have to know an artist to collaborate with them. They don’t even need to be alive….

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Drafting and editing poetry

Write poetry by hand. Go on, try it, even if you always write directly on the computer. I…

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Rooting our writing

Consider the things we amass during the course of our lives. Not the carefully chosen items but the…

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Valuing the ordinary in our poetry

My tip is to never underestimate the importance of the everyday. Root your poems in the reality of…

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