Category: writing

Choosing words for poetry

Poetry Tips
Choosing words for poetry

Poets need to understand words, letters and sounds in ways more intimate than the reader or the writer of prose.
I want to take you on a journey and show you had you should think of words when writing your poetry.

I was given the words PEACH, PAISLEY, PACHABEL, PERIDOT for a challenge.

To me these words fitted into a romance a seduction scene with two players and some music.

So my thinking was Pachabels Cannon in D I don’t know if you have heard it, its a beautiful piece of music and its made up of repeating refrains so I wanted to replicate that in the poetry music.
I needed repetition within the poem and repeats and I also wanted repetition of p and s sounds.

I used alliteration but I also wanted to use euphony letters beginning with p are associated with masculine , power and pride ..s words are associated with secrets, sensuousness so accentuating these sounds will help set the mood of the piece.
I choose words with p and s with the connotations that I wanted and I choose words with p and s in the centre to keep the sounds progressing.

My peacock is a metaphor
Then my word choice
preens gives me the p and s sound …it means devoting time to making oneself look attractive fitting my lover who is a peacock
prances again gives the p and s sounds …it is also making exaggerated movements ..that will get noticed
Then those words are repeated but reversed like the steps of a dance.
He poses and exudes power …and the narrator is interested excited

In the second stanza romance is building so those s sounds come to the fore.
Combined with t which adds a trembling sound.entwined, trailing, atmosphere.
Plus the slithering s tones of slow, sound, speeding, shudder, unison, softly

We continue in stanza 3 with the repetitions but we add he sound of l which can be a sound of lightness and clarity.

So the mood of the poem is built, the emotion heightened.
I formulated a list of potential words, I checked meaning and connotation and picked the words with care.
I tried to continue using my sounds and refrains to echo the refrains in the music.

This poem is also is an extended metaphor.

Now you might not like this poem it may not appeal to you.
But read it aloud feel how the words flow together hear the sounds and try to emulate good word choice in your poems.

Cannon in D

The peridot peacock preens and prances
prances and preens
the feeling of power positively exuding
from the pose
his display raises my pulse
pulse beating in my neck above
of my shawl.

The slow sound of bass notes entwined
with the trailing notes of violins
start to create the atmosphere
for sharing secrets
slow sounds – speeding -twining
like rising pheromones
I shudder as my peach paisley slips
my skin

The peridot peacock
preens and prances
Pachabel adding life and lustre
subtle refrains building building
I smile and power transfers
as I stand and pose and preen
the suspense peaks
we move in unison softly touching
speeding – twining.


with Pachabel.

Samantha Beardon©

How do you choose words for your poetry!
Samantha Beardon

Acrostic ….Adventure…..challenge

Are you familiar with the Acrostic poem? Where you write a word vertically down a page and fit an apposite word or sentence for each line?
Acrostic Style – This is a poem that is constructed in such a way that the first letter of each

line can be compiled together to spell one or more words. They may often be the same as

the title.
This example is particularly clever it begins and ends with Stroud,

by Paul Hansford –
Set among hills in the midst of five valleyS,

This peaceful little market town we inhabiT

Refuses (vociferously!) to be a conformeR.

Once home of the cloth it gave its name tO,

Uphill and down again its streets lead yoU.

Despite its faults it leaves us all charmeD.
Here is a one ended acrostic for adventure.

Addictive activity
Voyage into new territory
Extreme excitement

Navigating new pathways

Thrill seeking comes in different colours

Unlimited opportunities

Risk or risk averse there are opportunities to

Experience adventure.
Any one care to try one in the comments section or challenge me to do a different one?

Ticking Clock

Late nights turn quickly to early morning

As I recognise the spark of an idea

Whilst the ticking clock issues no warning


Space between the second hand is falling

Recognising potential could be the reason

Late nights turn quickly to early morning


I will have recognised a new dawning

of ideas, to be pushed in the arena

Whilst the ticking clock issues no warning


Between punctuation and profundities crossing

I do not recognise my tired demeanor

Late nights turn quickly into early mornings


Lack of  sleep, causes serious mourning

Tomorrow I will recognise this schema

Whilst the ticking clock issues no warning


Without rhyme or reason need becomes longing

Recognising insomnia and amensia

Late nights turn into early mornings

The ticking clock issues no warning
Written in the Villanelle form.

The stresses on words and the rythmn of poetry

​The best way to read poetry is aloud.

The choice of words the amount of syllables and the arrangement of lines will dictate the rhythm

The time taken to say the word will depend on the amount of syllables and where the stress lies.

Punctuation affects rhythmn .

Line stops or the running of two lines into the other…also in speech the normal pause for a breath will change the way we read the lines.
We always use natural stress but learning and accent sometimes changes where the stresses go.

With writing one needs to stick to where the natural stresses are in words unless writing a poem in dialect
Where is the natural stress for you in the following words?

Credit  credit, controversy, controversy British British ??
Sometimes the stress will change according to the meaning or nature of the word.

Some times circumstances will change circumstances
For example if you took the Dr Seuss Poem  Green Eggs and Ham. You might read it so the stresses go like this:
i DO not EAT green EGGS and HAM

If you placed the stresses elsewhere, it might change the meaning of the poem:

I do NOT eat GREEN eggs AND ham.
This might suggest that the character would eat them separately but not together and it would not go with the rest of the poem. If you translated this stress change into sound it might go like this

I do NOT eat GREEN eggs AND ham.

DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da.
In terms of inflection in the first example the line ends on a rising tone in the second on a lowering tone.
American English and British English often put different stresses on words and although there is some commonality there are also distinct differences.
It needs some thought if writing for an international audience. Does it matter ?

What do you think?



An imaginative awareness  of experience expressed through meaning  ,rhythmn and language choices to create an emotional experience.

Meaning and emotion through words

Poetry is innate because of the way we learn language which is through sound and repetition before we can read or write…

Its innate because if the natural rythms within our body. 

Poetry greek origin … Closely tied to those roots of our language. 

Poetry is designed to be read out loud

In speech we move air through through muscular activity speech is a whole body experience ….so if you read aloud you read and interprete the words,convert to sounds

So when we express ourselves verbally and we want to create a message we use sounds that we vary in pitch and tone…We emphasise whole words or part of words we also use body language to get our meaning across. 

Poetry is written but is meant to be read aloud…it uses words in a concentrated fashion to enhance and highlight the rhythmns of speech and meaning. 

When reading poetry the brain accesses knowledge of language knowledge of sound and your previous experiences of sensations and feelings. In prose and stories choice of language is important but is used differently to poetry. In a story you will get an ebb and flow of language in  poetry that ebb and flow needs to be managed. In a story you need to move the story on in poetry you want your message to be savoured. 

Devices used by poets. 1. 

Poets use a range of musical and figurative devices to achieve their effects. Some of these effects relate to the rhythm and metre ( meter) of the words. In poetry, the meter (or metre) is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse. 

The study of the rhythm, stress, and pitch (or intonation) of speech is called prosody.

 Meter.( Measure)

Meter mimics and heightens the rhythms of our speech, it comes from within the poem, within the words, and is a very powerful tool. Meter is the musical element that involves the stresses of words and the arrangement of those words next to another to create a pattern. This works in the same way that musical composition works. Music is the organisation of sounds and silences – Meter is the organisation of soft and loud sounds (or stressed and unstressed syllables). 

There are different tyoes if recognised meter.

The most typical meter used in classical English poetry is ten beats  or sounds divided into 5 bars (feet).

In this rhythmn the stresses on words go on the second beat. 
di DUM, di DUM ,di DUM, di DUM ,di DUM

Five sets of  sounds repeating like a heart beat 

and  ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and FIVE

Here is an example of this rhythmn

He sings a song and makes a dreadful noise

9 words but 10 syllables making 10 stressed sounds as dreadful is a two syllable word.

He sings/a song/and makes/a dread/ful noise.

The syllables of importance are the vowels that  sound, in words some vowels sound some vowels are silent.
An easy trick to find the amount if vowel sounds therefore syllables in a word is to  put your hand under your chin and say the word aloud.Your mouth will open on every stressed vowel sound(syllable).

Try dreadful, vowel, amazing, friendship.
Amazing friendship on the horizon

 Seeing friendship but a life forbidden

Must not look for  more, wishing on a star.

Examples of classic 10 syllable meter.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep

 And nodding by the fire, take down this book


The woods decay, the woods decay and fall, 

The vapours weep their burthen to the ground 

TENNYSON: ‘Tithonus’ 

Do National quirks put readers off?

​I have had reason of late to cogitate about the differences between American English and United Kingdom English. I am sure there are articles out there giving definitive views on the subject. I admit to not having done a search yet. A few incidents have set me wondering if the different word usages and terms become a problem for readers on the different continents. Do they actually turn readers off? I have read lots of books by authors from varying countries and personally I haven’t stopped reading any because of spelling variation or the odd quirk I have had to work out or look up. It has irritated me somewhat that ‘colour’ gets spelt ‘color’ and other words too are spelt differently to my instinctive way of spelling. Although not enough to give up on the story if I am gripped by the character and plot. That is my take, I would be interested to know other’s views. Do you consider the nationality and therefore the likely spelling and word usage when contemplating reading a novel, should writers take all national quirks out of their writing?
The specific incidents that got me thinking were:-

  • A beta reader from American did not understand the phrase – It certainly lit my blue touch paper.
  • Standing by the bar, I checked out the optics… England these are the measurements on bottles of spirits
  • I had a conversation with an American friend about my new kitchen and my new granite worktops ……ah countertops, counters in the USA.
  • Then there are all the others….garden….yard…..boot…..trunk….etc.

What do you think folks?