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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Creative Writing

Figurative language, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and more

Reading

If you are serious about learning to write poetry, it is important to read lots of poems by many different poets! The EWU Writers’ Center has a number of poetry how-to guides and other reference books that you may use when you visit us at the EWU Learning Commons in the JFK Library. The library also stores numerous poetry anthologies, poetry books, and works of criticism. 

Learn about Poetry Forms and Terms

The Poetry Foundation’s glossary provides an extensive introduction to poetry forms and terms. Did you know, for example, that the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is an example of a villanelle? In fact, there are many different types of poems, from ballad to elegy to sonnet to free verse. Whatever the type of poem, or the rhythm and meter of the poem, poets use language to accentuate sound and meaning. Check it all out HERE.

Samples

Walt Whitman

Song of Myself

1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

Read the entire poem HERE.

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Generative Exercises

Exquisite Corpse, one of several generative exercises, is a poem-writing game for two or more people. Invented by the Surrealists of the early Twentieth Century, it’s a fun way of creating an imaginative, surprising poem.

  • One person begins by writing four lines of a poem and then folds the paper so only the last line is visible.
  • The next person continues the poem, writing another four lines and then folding the paper so that, again, only the last line is visible.
  • The step repeats twice more.
  • Unfold the paper and read the poem aloud (the results are often surprising and funny!).

If you can, include in each line in this order an adjective, a noun, a verb, an adjective, and then a noun, like so: The fuzzy dog barked at the sleeping cat.

Inland Northwest Center for Writers

EWU has a master's of fine arts degree in which students can focus on the craft of writing poetry. Learn more about literary events in the Spokane area at their website.