Sherwin Mendoza Asian American Literature

Sherwin Mendoza Asian American Literature

Poetry Assignment: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a poem?
You can define a poem by contrasting poetry with prose.  The most important difference is that when you are writing a poem you are paying attention to musical aspects of language such as rhythm and sound.
Does the poem have to rhyme?

No.  Based on the examples that we have discussed in class, some poems rhyme, but other poems don't.

How do I get started?

You should start with a vivid experience.  In the poem you can tell a story.  You can even begin with a story written in prose, but then you would add line breaks and subtract any unnecessary words.

What is the difference between a good poem and a bad poem?
A good poem is unique.  A bad poem is a cliche.  Here is a good test:  If you substitute another food in your poem and the poem still makes sense, the poem is not good.  The uniqueness of your experience should ensure that your poem is not simply a cliche.

Does the poem have to be about food?
If you have your heart set on something else, then write what you want.  However, your poem will probably be about things other than food.  As you write, you should discover more layers of meaning for your experience with food that are not just about food.  Food is very social, and so food is a good vehicle for considering relationships between people.

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Last Updated: 10/19/13