Seven P’s of Poetry

Early Bird Workshop presented by Catherine Lawton of Cladach Publishing

Colorado Christian Writers Conference – Wednesday May 16, 2018

1. The Poet

Who is a poet?

  • Gifted

God gives: Gifts, Affections, Circumstances. Your calling is a mix of these three. Your calling is to use these to glorify God, take care of yourself, and serve others in love.

2. The Poem

What is a Poem?

A Definition of Poetry:
Poetry is piece of literature written in meter or verse expressing various emotions which are expressed by the use of variety of different techniques including metaphors, similes and onomatopoeia. The emphasis on the aesthetics of language and the use of different techniques such as repetition, meter and rhyme are what are commonly used to distinguish poetry from prose. (Prose can be defined as ordinary speech or writing without any metrical structure.) Poems often make heavy use of imagery and word association to quickly convey emotions.

Webster’s Collegiate definition of “poetry”:

1 a: metrical writing: verse b: the productions of a poet: poems  2 : writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm  3a: a something likened to poetry esp. in beauty of expression  b: poetic quality or aspect

  • Sound

Rhythm and Rhyme, Alliteration, Consonance, Euphony, etc. employed
  • Sense (or Meaning)

Condensed truth


  • Rhythm and form

Many Poetic forms/ Types:


Free Verse



Song Lyrics



Prose Poetry



Narrative Poem





  • Metaphor, Simile and other Figures of Speech are usually employed. 

3. The Purpose

Why write (or read) and share poetry?

Ten Ways Poetry Can Improve Your Prose

 1. Writing poetry develops skills of concise wording (something we editors like!).

 2. The writing (and reading) of poetry can sharpen your observation skills.

 3. Because syntax matters in poetry, you will improve in your understanding of syntax matters.

 4. Figures of speech used in poetry teach you finer subtleties of word usage and connotations and make you a better wordsmith.

 5. Poetic precision of words will sharpen your skill in choosing the most fitting, evocative, precise words for your prose.

 6. The rhythms and rhymes of poetry tune your ear to hear fluctuations and patterns in the sense and sound of language.

 7. Writing (or reading) a poem can provide a rejuvenating break from a long writing project. It may even break you out of writers block.

 8. Writing a poem can help you distill a thought, discover a kernel of truth, and find your focus on a topic to develop more fully later, in prose.

 9. A poem or short rhyme can add variety/spice/interest to a longer piece, when used in an organic way in a novel, memoir, blog post, even an expository piece of writing (and it looks good on the page).

10. You may find your calling as a poet and discover that your poetry will reach your readers’ minds and hearts more effectively than 1,000s of prose words.

To express faith, offer hope

“Religious poetry is not a special genre, because religion is not a special part of life; Christian life is the whole of life transformed, and Christian poetry is not poetry about Christ. . .but an attitude of mind which sees the whole world. . . transformed in Christ.” –Vincent Buckley

“Verse is well suited for exploring the textures, the shifting moods and feelings, of religious life.” –unknown

Two quotes from a 2018 article in Publisher’s Weekly about the rise in popularity of poetry:

“People are turning to writing and poetry and reflection as the world gets more complex and challenging.” –Kirsty Melville, publisher

“We measure [a poetry book’s] success in a variety of ways, including readership response, author events, outreach to particular—and often under-served—communities, critical reception, awards, social and cultural engagement and inclusion, and more, with sales being one part of what a book does and can do.” –Jeff Shotts, editor at Graywolf Press


4. The Polish

Editing your poems

•  Look up a few books of current poetry and study the style and format of contemporary poems.

• Read your poems out loud! Did you stumble anywhere? Is punctuation needed for the poem to make sense? Do you need to reduce or increase the number of beats in a line?

• Vary the indentation of lines, etc, to make the poem more visually appealing.

• Check for word choices, agreement of person, tense, etc.

• What central image or theme or experience or thought are you attempting to get across with this poem?

• Are you showing, not telling? Remember, try to use Concrete more than Abstract words. You may express a concept, but do it with concrete, perhaps symbolic, nouns and verbs. Sometimes the words used jar, surprise, even mystify—but hopefully they arouse a feeling, delight the senses, and incite thought.

• If you are honest with your feelings, experiences, insights, others will “get it” and relate to it. Think of your experience as a microcosm of the whole. Sometimes we try too hard to impress, or to be clear, or even to be vague and oblique. Just say it—as honestly, concretely, succinctly, and creatively as you can.

• For a book, add an introduction “from the poet” about “why this book” and other insights.

• Find BOOKS / RESOURCES for editing your poetry, such as:–critiques.html

5. The Present Landscape

Poetry Scene Today

Famous: Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Rupi Kaur

Known in Christian community: Mary Harwell Sayler, etc. (“Luci Shaw is still the grand old lady of poetry in the Christian market,” says Elaine Wright Colvin)

“Unknowns” who are nevertheless making an impact: Many bloggers, poets with chapbooks, poems published in journals, etc.

General-Audience Poetry Opportunities (most listed here with hyperlinks)

April is Poetry Month

¡ POETRY ! on Goodreads

Tweetspeak Poetry

Godspace (A Christian site/ online publication/ community founded and facilitated by Christine Sine)

Poetry Super Highway founded by Rick Lupert

Realistic Poetry

Facebook groups such as Christian Poets and Writers

Blogs  (Many amateur and professional poets are blogging today.)

A number of print publications feature a poem in each issue (consult the Christian Writers Market Guide)

6. To Publish


Share/submit/publish your poems. Find and participate in online communities of poets and local events, such as readings.


From Mary Harwell Sayler:

Poet’s Market 2018  by Robert Lee Brewer, Editor

Writer Magazine lists POETRY MARKETS for 2018 at

Examples of PRINT PUBLICATIONS and their guidelines:

America Magazine


Time of Singing Time of Singing welcomes poetry that talks about God and our relationship with Him and each other–as well as general inspirational and nature poems. I prefer poems that don’t preach, and “show” rather than “tell.” Sermons and “greeting card” poetry have valid purposes, but aren’t appropriate for this magazine.

Christian Century

We suggest reading the poems in the past several issues to gain a clearer idea of the kinds of poetry we are seeking. We publish shorter poems (fewer than 20 lines) that are grounded in images and that reveal an awareness of the sounds of language and the forms of poetry even when the poems are written in free verse. Submit poetry to

Creation Illustrated Magazine

START LOCAL: Submit to Local or regional papers/magazines (e.g. WREN, 50+ Market Place)


Websites/Online Magazines/Blogs that publish poetry, such as:

Christian Poems |    Here you will find poems about God, faith and many other topics dear to Christians. You can submit your own original poetry by joining. Click here, it’s free. Easter Poems · ‎Inspirational Poems · ‎Poetry About Jesus · ‎Salvation Poems

God and Nature Magazine (for the Scientist/Theologian type)

Publishing and Marketing a Poetry Book :

“Poetry is beyond the page. How do we work with it, join it, bring it to our ‘pages’?” This is the question faced by any independent publisher: how do you bring readers to your pages—readers who already appreciate poetry but haven’t yet been exposed to an individual press’s catalog, readers whose experience of poetry is auditory or otherwise outside the bookstore, and those readers for whom, as Matthew Zapruder puts it, “would find human things in there and be connected to it if they found the right poem for them at the right time. Although the audience for poetry is vast, despite the very hard and creative work being done by publishers, this wider audience hasn’t yet crossed the bridge from reading poetry into buying poetry books. This may be somehow tied to poetry’s long history as part of a collective oral tradition or it may be another manifestation of our modern tendency to listen to tracks on SoundCloud rather than buy albums and watch shows on Project Free TV instead of paying for HBO and cable. People’s love for poetry rather than poetry books may also be because of the nature of poetry itself: since each poem is its own complete aesthetic experience, maybe readers feel less inclined to engage with poetry books, no matter how much they’ve enjoyed individual poems. There isn’t a clear answer for presses about how to unlock this wider audience or even if it can be done—just a multiplicity of different approaches.”

Questions to ask yourself regarding publishing a Poetry Book:

What’s the purpose or hook of the book?

People may buy poetry books for a specific reason or holiday or as a gift. Would yours appeal that way?

Poetry best sellers are usually on a specific theme.

How will this book be marketed?

Does it meet your purpose? Does it exalt Jesus; witness to Presence?

Peruse the poetry book shelves at Barnes and Noble and other places that feature books of poetry, and consider what they stock and why they have these particular books on the shelves.

Other Opportunities:




7. My Prayer for You and Me

Dear heavenly Father, almighty God

who spoke the world into being

out of your love and creativity,

may your will and your way work

their way in us and through us

and into and through our poems.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God who

died and yet lives, have mercy on

our tendency to resist your love.

May your life dwell in us, that we

may abide like branches on the vine.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, awaken

and enable us to stir up the gifts

you have given us, to compose,

expressions of life, truth, and hope.


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