Just when you think you have completed your masterpiece of a poem, considered all the commas, re-positioned the periods, thought hard of your verb choice and sparse use of adjectives, when you think it could not possibly be more perfect, think again.

The final step to completing any new poem is to read it out loud. Yes, this may seem old fashioned but it is essential to giving your poem that polished advantage. When reading a poem out loud several new issues may become apparent, such as poor word choice, awkward phrasing or possibly an uneven flow of short and long sentences, or a rhythm that is broken. You might even notice that the sentence order is not optimal, or the order of stanzas should be rearranged.

But one of the most overlooked important elements is to hear how the poem sounds. Is the phrasing lyrical and is the sound pleasant to the ear? (Though granted some poems are written purposely to sound grating.) Would a full rhyme or half-rhyme help emphasize a salient point. Is there alliteration, assonance and consonance within the poem? Consider the following lines;

“. . . that thrums your spine, tingles your inner ear

listen until you are hypnotized . . .”

Listen to the short i sound of tingle, inner, and ear as well as the repeat of that sound in the next line with the words listen and until. (to really hear this, please read out loud) Now read the changed sentence out loud;

“. . . that thrums your spine, cocoons your ear

pay attention until you are hypnotized . . .”

See how different the lines sound once the assonance is taken out? The following is another example, listen to the full ending rhyme in two of the lines as well as the full rhyme within a line of this poem.

“. . .and see the deer descend to the water’s brink

bending their heads to drink

as the cat tails and lavender grass weave the breeze

until you realize this is what you needed . . .”

And try another way.

“. . .and see the deer descent to the water’s edge

bending their heads to drink

as the cat tails and lavender grass weave the air

until you realize this is what you needed . . .”

See how different the two examples sound and how the sound differences change the feeling of the poem. Next time you write a poem, take a listen to how it sounds, and see if you can work in some assonance or alliteration and see if you like the changes.

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