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Poetry Industry Newsletter

Robin Travis-Murphree

Do you know what the tools are of your trade? Have you heard terms that you had no idea what they mean? This month we provide an in-depth listing of the most used poetry terms and their definitions. Also, check out this month's listings of poetry contests and conferences, an opportunity to submit your work for publication, and a listing of three more poetry societies, one of which might be in your neck of the woods . . .

Volume 3, Number 11 - November 2000

Table of Contents

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Poetry Terms & Definitions

It is important for poets to understand the tools of their craft. Without knowing the tools, or how to use them, a poet is like a blind man stumbling his way through unfamiliar territory. Below I have listed many of the terms, along with their definitions, for the tools of poetry. Take some time to look through these terms and begin incorporating their use in your work.

Allegory - communicating complex notions in a lively way

Allusion - a form of verbal economy to conserve literary energy

Apostrophe - address of the voice is direct to an object or subject of the poem

Ballad - a narrative poem in quatrains in which the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme

Blank Verse - unrhymed iambic pentameter lines

Caesura - a pause in a line of poetry

Cliche - an overused expression or phrase

Concrete poem - a visual arrangement of a poem's letters and words to suggest meaning

Diction - choice of words and manner of expression

Doggerel - poorly constructed verse, characterized by monotonous rhyme and rhythm, cheap sentiment, trivial words and untasteful language

Encomium - a poem of praise

End Rhyme - rhyming words at the end of poetry lines

End-Stopped - a line where the syntactic unit ends, at a clear pause or at the end of a sentence

Enjambment - run-on lines that continue the sense of the verse from one line to another without rhetorical or syntactic pause at the end of the lines

Epic - a long narrative poem

Epistolary Monologue - a form of poem that identifies the writer and that it is a letter in the title of the poem

Elegy - a poem in praise of the dead or a death song

Epigram - a short poem with the qualities of an inscription. Often witty and humorous

Epistolary Monologue - the title of the poem identifies the writer and the fact that it is a letter

Fable - a story where animals are given human attributes that represent certain moral or philosophical qualities, mostly derived from Aesop, a legendary Greek poet.

Foot - a unit of poetic rhythm, usually consisting of one stressed syllable and one or more unstressed syllables.

Free Verse - poetry that is both unrhymed and without regular meter, however it may be rhythmic.

Haiku - An oriental lyric of 17 syllables, 3 lines in a 5, 7 and 5 syllable pattern respectively. Must state or imply a season and should be made up of two statements relating to one another

Hyperbole - an exaggeration of something that has either more or less than what quality it really has

Iamb - a metrical unit of two syllables in which the second is stressed

Image - a group of words that records the impressions of the senses

Limerick - a five line comedic form with a rhyming pattern of aabba, the 1st, 2nd and 5th lines are trimeter and the 3rd and 4th lines are in dimeter

Lyric - a highly concentrated poem of direct personal emotion such as a love poem, elegy or meditation

Metaphor - a figure of speech in which a person, object or idea may be transformed into something else by a comparative suggestion or comment

Meter - a measure of stressed and unstressed syllables in lines of poetry.

Regular meter - syllable stresses that occur at regular intervals
Quantitative meter - meter determined by the duration of syllables rather than by their accents
Monometer - a metrical line of one foot
Dimeter - a metrical line with two feet
Trimeter - a metrical line with three feet
Tetrameter - a metrical line with four feet
Pentameter - a metrical line with five feet
Hexameter - a metrical line with six feet
Heptameter - a metrical line with seven feet
Octometer - a metrical line with eight feet

Metonymy - figure of speech where the name of a person or thing calls forth a more complex structure of things.

Octave - an eight line stanza

Ode - a lengthy formal lyric poem

Oxymoron - a figure of speech which combines two seemingly contradictory elements, such as "sweet and sour"

Paradox - a statement that seems contradictory or absurd, but may be true in fact

Persona - the speaker of a poem, who may or may not be the same as the poet

Personification - giving human attributes to things not human

Poetic Dialogue - a dramatic lyric using two speakers

Posthumous Monologue - a poem spoken by the dead

Prose - a form that uses imagery and figurative language but foregoes the use of meter, verification and line endings

Refrain - a phrase or verse repeated at intervals in a poem

Rhyme - the occurrence of stressed vowels in two words, such as sting and sing

Rhyme scheme - a pattern of rhyme throughout a stanza or poem
Feminine Rhyme - a rhyme in which the similarity of sound is in both of the last two syllables, such as dreary and weary
Internal Rhyme - words that rhyme within the middle of the line
Masculine Rhyme - a rhyme in which the similarity of sounds is in the final syllables, such as regret and forget
Near Rhyme -words that have approximate sounds, such as lads and lids, sometimes called slant rhyme

Rhythm - the rise and fall of the voice's sound while reading a poem, along with the flow, surge and abatement of words. Like a melody is to a song

Scan - to analyze the meter of a poem by marking off the feet and showing the rhythmic structure

Sestina - a verse form that consists of six, six-line stanzas where the end words of the first stanza are repeated in subsequent stanzas and the poem concludes with a tercet

Shaped Form - a poem whose lines for the shape of the subject

Simile - a comparison of one thing to another as stated by the words like or as

Sonnet - a fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter whose rhyme scheme has been widely varied:

English Sonnet - or Shakespearian Sonnet, has a rhyming pattern of abab, cdcd, efef, gg
Italian Sonnet - or Petrarchan Sonnet, opens with an octet and closes with a sestet and having a rhyming pattern of abba, abba // cdc, cdc

Soliloquy - a speaker is overheard talking to no one in particular, sometimes called a dramatic monologue, especially when the voice is not that of the poet, but of someone within the poem

Stanza - a sequence of lines that form a metrical, tonal or intellectual unit

Couplet - a two line unit, usually rhymed
Tercet - a three line unit
Quatrain - a unit of four rhymed or unrhymed lines
Cinquain - a five line unit
Sestet - a six line unit that can stand alone as a stanza or the concluding lines of an Italian Sonnet
Septet - a seven line unit
Octet - an eight line unit of rhymed or unrhymed lines.

Surrealistic Imagery - a presentation of an image that cannot be photographed

Syllabic Verse - a poem whose line length is calculated by the number of syllables rather than by feet

Symbol - any action or object that signifies more than itself

Synecdoche - a figure of speech where part of a thing is mentioned to suggest a whole thing

Synesthesia - a sense of one thing spoken in the terms of another

Syntactic Unit - a line of words or a phrase using correct language, grammar and punctuation

Tanka - a Japanese form of thirty-one syllables in lines of five, seven, five, seven, seven syllables respectively

Terza Rima - a form of interconnected three-line stanzas that rhyme aba, bcb, cdc, ded, efe

Tone - a writer's attitude as revealed by rhyme, sounds and selection of words, often called style

Triplet - a verse unit of three lines containing end rhymes, sometimes used in stanza form

Trochee - a metrical uni of two syllables in which the first is stressed

Types of Poetry - Classic, Traditional and Contemporary:

Classic - poetry that is recognized for its excellence and cultural value
Traditional - usually iambic pentameter lines with quatrain stanzas
Contemporary - modern day style, usually free verse, sometimes rhyming

Understatement - a deliberate avoidance of emphasis in description and is not so much a figure of speech, but a tone of voice

Verse - a line of poetry written in meter

Villanelle - a poem made up of five tercets, all rhyming aba, and ending

with a quatrain abaa. Lines 6, 12 and 18 repeat line 1 while lines 9, 15 and 19 repeat line 3

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Contests, Awards, Fellowships, and Grants

Writers should always be on the lookout for places to submit their work, including contests. But be sure that the contests you send your work to are legitimate and not scams which seek to separate you from your hard earned cash. Also, make sure you follow the submission guidelines exactly as listed by the organization which is hosting the contest. Failure to do so can result, and usually will, n your entry being disqualified. Take the time to do it right!

National Writers Union 17th Annual National Poetry Competition
Adrienne Rich to Judge the 17th Annual Poetry Competition in 2000
Entry deadline is December 1, 2000.

The Santa Cruz/Monterey Local of the National Writers Union announces its 17th Annual National Poetry Competition. This year's judge, Adrienne Rich, is the recipient, most recently, of the 1996 Tanning Award for Mastery in the Art of Poetry, as well as the Lannan Foundation's 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award. Her award list is long and well-deserved as she weaves her social activism and personal thoughts into universally-appreciated form. She is the author of more than 15 volumes of poetry. Her most recent book of poems, Midnight Salvage, was published in 1999.

  • Prizes: First: $500; Second: $300; Third: $200
  • The First Prize winner will be published in Poetry Flash and Local 7's newsletter. Second and Third Prize winners will be published on the NWU Local 7 web site and be seriously considered for publication by Poetry Flash. In 1999, First Prize went to Robert King of Lincoln, Nebraska for Naming Names.
  • Guidelines: Submit any number of poems (single copies). Any subject matter is appropriate; the NWU celebrates multi-cultural creativity. Ineligible submission categories include translations, published poems (including self-published) and unpublished award winners.
  • Entries will not be returned. Winners will be announced in February 2001.

Please follow these steps (any step not followed will disqualify your submission) and send:

  1. Poems: typed, double-spaced on 8 "" x 11" paper without your name on page, no more than 3 pages per poem, and unstapled.
  2. A separate page with your name, address, e-mail address if available, and titles of submitted poems.
  3. A check totaling $4 for each poem, payable to National Writers Union.
  4. A self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if you wish to be notified of winners.
  5. Mail to Poetry Competition NWU PO Box 2409 Aptos, CA. 95001.

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State Poetry Societies

Poetry Societies and organizations are a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know other poets in your area. Within these organizations you will find workshops, contests, and other exciting activities which can help you in your craft. The dues for membership are usually minimal. Also, membership in a state poetry organization automatically gives you membership to the National Federation of Poetry Societies, which gives you even more opportunities, programs and information. For the next few months, we'll be including the names and contact information for some of these state poetry organizations. If you know of an organization in your area that doesn't get listed here, please forward that information to me and we'll include it in future issues.

Utah State Poetry Society
Kolette Montague
864 North Bonita Way
Centerville, UT 84014

Vermont Poets Association
Dr. Frank Anthony
151 Main Street
Windsor, VT 05089

Poetry Society of Virginia
Ron Smith
616 Maple Avenue
Richmond, VA 23226-2648

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Publication Opportunities

Always be sure to read the publications you submit your work to. Many will offer sample copies for your review for a small fee. You want to be sure to submit work which complements the publication.

The Nation
72 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10011-8046
(212)242-8400 fax: (212)463-9712
The Nation publishes poems of outstanding aesthetic quality, by poets such as Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, W.S. Merwin, Derek Walcott, Pablo Neruda, Mona Van Duyn, Joseph Brodsky. Send poems with SASE to Grace Schulman, Poetry Editor. Payment $1 a line not to exceed $35. For details about Discovery-The Nation, a contest for poets whose work has not yet been published in book form, write to Grace Schulman, with SASE.

The Gettysburg Review
Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 337-6770

Sample copies of the review are available at $7 each (this price includes $1 postage); one-year subscriptions (4 issues) are $24. We strongly encourage all potential contributors to read several issues before submitting.

Published quarterly, The Gettysburg Review considers submissions of essays, fiction, poetry, essay-reviews, and full-color graphics nine months of each year; we do not consider new submissions during June, July, and August. Simultaneous submissions will be returned unread, and previously published materials are not considered. The average response time is three months. The main criterion for selection is quality. Past contributors include Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Joyce Carol Oates, Garrison Keillor, E.L. Doctorow, Philip Levine, William Matthews, and many others, both newly and previously published.

In the genre of poetry, both short and longer poems are of interest, including narrative poems. Fiction is generally in the form of short stories, although longer pieces are sometimes accepted and serialized, and excerpts from novels have been published. Essays can be on virtually any subject, as long as it is treated gracefully and in depth. We pay $25 per printed page for fiction and essays and $2 per line for poetry.

All manuscripts should be typed, double-spaced. Manuscripts must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Artists interested in having work considered should submit a selection of slides with a cover letter.

Direct manuscripts to:
Peter Stitt, Editor
The Gettysburg Review
Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717)337-6770 [FAX 6775]

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Conferences and workshops are integral opportunities for writers and poets. Because writing is a solitary act, a writer must seek out opportunities to meet with other writers. There's no better place to do this than at a conference or workshop. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet other writers, but you have the chance to attend workshops which can assist you in growing in your craft. It is in these workshops where experienced writers share their knowledge and talents. In addition, workshops and conferences are places where writers gain the opportunity to meet publishers and agents. Through networking, writers achieve the ability to meet those others in the business who can help them attain publication. Wouldn't you just love to sit and have coffee with a poetry editor from New York or from one of the literary magazines you've just been dying to get into? Keep an eye out for conferences which interest you and then when you find one or two, attend it and check it out.

Vintage Hudson Valley Conference
Nov. 30 - Dec. 3, 2000
An intimate meeting between a small group of writers and top assigning magazine editors, Troutbeck sells out earlier every year. Prominent editors spend the weekend hobnobbing with writers -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail time for 3 days --a rare opportunity to establish personal relationships and pitch stories. Each editor also reviews each writer's clips in advance, and makes an in-depth presentation on what's new at their magazine, and how to get assignments, etc. Check the Web site at

San Diego State University Writers' Conference
January 19- 21, 2001
Now in its 17th year, this writers' conference is designed to help every writer at every writing level. This conference will help you improve your writing skills, develop your marketing awareness, and introduce you to the writing professionals that can facilitate the next step in your publishing career. Join us to meet and learn from editors, agents and writers who will explore in-depth how to write successful novels, nonfiction, and screenplays and how to publish them in the traditional manner or on the Internet. Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego's Famous Mission Valley. Check Web site: This year's conference will focus on on-line publishing providing specific information on how to participate in and profit from this growing area of publishing. Experts including both on-line publishers and writers who have already been published will be on hand to answer questions and guide you through the ins and outs of this cutting-edge area. For questions or additional information, email the SDSU College of Extended Studies at:

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Robin Travis is a poet, journalist, editor and scriptwriter. She is the Executive Editor for Poetic Voices magazine, Editor for the Poetry Industry Newsletter, Community Leader and Editor for's Poetry Pavilion, former Founder/Director and current advisor for the Writers Club Poetry place on AOL, and is Editor for the WFLF Legend. She has had her work published in several newspapers and magazines including The Boston Globe, Mobile Press Register, Mobile Bay Monthly magazine, Eagle's Eye, Poet's Market 2001, and Winchester Star. She has written 68 weekly television episodes of Highlites and two segments of Coast Up Close for CTN which have been produced and aired in three states and England.
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