The Poetry Assessor: How Does your Poetry Measure up to the Great Contemporaries?

The Poetry Assessor: How Does your Poetry Measure up to the Great Contemporaries?


If you’ve ever wanted your poetry critiqued by an algorithm-using robot, now’s your chance!  This nifty little tool allows you to enter your poem in the specified box (where, I imagine, marbles roll through zig-zag plastic tunnels and a penny is flattened and imprinted with Margaret Atwood’s face) then it rates your poem on a numbered scale – negative numbers being more on the “amateur” side of things, and positive numbers on the “professional” side.  The application was created using contemporary English poetry and language as a reference point.  The website offers more details as to how the tool functions.

Come on, you know you want to try it out…


“Read Poetry” – Bookmarks

My position – when I’m not on here blogging, or cuddling with my husband – is that of an assistant librarian at a high school. For the most part, I recommend books to children and they stare at me blankly. And of course, I put books back on the shelf, help the English teachers get their class sets sorted out, and try to promote reading in various ways. During the month of April (National Poetry Month! Duh…) I helped the kids at the high school celebrate poem in your pocket day by hiding poems around the school, and giving the students prizes when they came and read a poem to me.

One of the prizes were these bookmarks that I’ve given you a template for! Simply print them out, cut them along the proper lines, cover them in book tape (carefully, I might add), trim the book tape, and voila! You’ve got yourself some perfectly good poetry to look at every time you crack open your book.

Feel free to use these for personal purposes, as gifts, or if you’d like to promote the love of poetry next April.

I Write Like

I Write Like

Hey Shameless followers!  Check out this totally awesome statistical analysis tool. It analyzes your writing style and compares it to that of famous writers.  All you have to do is copy and paste some of your prose or poetry into the text box and press the “Analyze” button.

My results: The ever so marvelous (and toothless) James Joyce.  Uhhhh, awesome!  Share your results. Who’d you get?

James Joyce

Prompt: Steal a Title


One of the prompts my 400 level poetry teacher gave my class while I was attending the U of A, was to “steal” the title of a poem.  We were reading “The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry,” and she asked us all to find a poem there that we found interesting, and borrow its contents: not only the title but themes, images, language, etc.

I chose a tender poem by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, called Gifts of Love (if you click the above “Ecco Anthology” link, you can read this poem in the preview!), and used that to jump into my own poem of the same title.  What I ended up with was my own poem about “gifts” of love – however, where Yehuda talks of adorning his love in jewelry, my gifts were less literal.  My poem transformed into something of a tribute to my past relationships – to failed and lost love, to the awkwardness of teenage affection.

So, this is your prompt: steal the title (and perhaps some other things, too) from another poem.  It could be a poem that you connect with, or likewise a poem that you hate.  Don’t be afraid to let your poem deviate from its inspiration: make the poem yours.  Please post and share your results along with the original poem!  


The Four Season…

The Four Seasons

Eight stars make
A soft solfege

Above this motel
Where there are never

I let a skinny man

Put his long thick dick in me for you
So we could break our hearts

The way you want me to. Somewhere a white
Wall stretches up behind the backs of a tribe

Whose obscurity protects its secret from the common
World and the connivances it ordains.

What time is it. What season is it.
I don’t know.

The moon blows green
Gas into my skull

I want to hide what I dream
In a big boot, and wear the boot

And starve as I lean upon the boot of my destitution
And drag

The truth as a gimp would drag the weight of her body.
That would give me a feeling of honesty.

In recent Shameless Word-Artist meetings, we’ve been discussing the alignment of our poetry “beliefs”: what it is that our group stands for, and is interested in poetically.  We’ve come to the conclusion that feminism is a subject we all feel strongly about.  Some of us have written poems about feminism in a political manner, and some from a personal stance, or on the social level (these things ultimately cross paths at some point).

I’ve been fawning over the female poet, Ariana Reines.  Ariana recently published a chapbook with Spork Press called Thursday.  She has also been published in my FAVORITE ANTHOLOGY EVER, Gurlesque.  Her avant-garde, aggressively feminine way of writing poetry fascinates me.  She is unafraid of being grotesque, blunt – truly shameless about what she writes.  She’s definitely one of my poet role-models.  

The poem Four Seasons was linked from her poems on the Poetry Foundation website.  If you’d like to read more from Ariana Reines, you can search there, or support an amazing artist and buy one of her books!

What are your thoughts and opinions on Ariana’s poetry?

5 Ways to Stay Inspired

ImageInspiration can be fleeting and fickle.  Sometimes it’s there, looming over your shoulder like thick rainclouds, begging you to comply.  And as soon as it came, it’s gone again, leaving you in a creative drought.  In Kim Addonizio and Dorriane Laux’s book, “The Poet’s Companion,” (which I recommend to every poet EVER…seriously, you should consider purchasing it) there is a chapter on writer’s block.  Addonizio describes writer’s block as not writer’s block, but instead “times when you are empty and times when you are full.”  Sometimes it is necessary to inspire yourself, to fill yourself and surround yourself with things that compel you to write.

1.  Read, read, read:

I cannot stress enough how important it is to read when you are a writer!  This rule applies to writers in general, but especially if you are a poet – read poetry.  Read lots of poetry. Don’t just read poetry that you’re comfortable with, either.  If you’re someone who typically enjoys classic poetry or poetry in strict forms, select some contemporary poetry instead.  Read poetry that doesn’t follow a form, that doesn’t rhyme, that pushes the boundaries of tradition.  Read poetry that makes you uncomfortable, that’s inaccessible, that may not make sense to you at first or at all.  I grew so much as a poet once I began pushing my own reading boundaries.  Read beautiful prose, too.  And read things about poetry.

2. Do creative things:

If you’re a creative thinker, chances are you have more than one creative outlet.  Poetry is my creative outlet of choice, but sometimes I’m just not feeling it.  Do other things that foster creativity.  In my spare time, I play Capoeira, I dance, and I love to try new recipes out for me and my husband.  I like to bind books, and every once in awhile I’ll paint or draw, too.  Being inventive in other areas of your life helps relieve that creative itch, and can inspire you to write via external creative experiences.

3. Give yourself some quiet time:

If there’s anything I’m most guilty of, it’s not giving myself enough quiet time.  I’ve often found myself deeply inspired by something, but because I keep myself so busy with working full-time and with the activities I mentioned above, by the time I get around to writing the poem I wanted to write – it’s not quite there anymore.  Especially if you’re an extrovert like me, it’s tough to make yourself stop and rest!  I’ve got places to go, people to see!  But alone time is important.  Especially if you’re a writer.  Don’t be afraid to go into your den and let the poetry come to you.  Allow yourself to reflect, to meditate or pray if that helps you.  Give yourself time away from other people.  You may be surprised at what flows out of you if you just stop and listen.

4. Give yourself new experiences:

Doing and trying new things is a great way to stimulate your creative muscle.  Try food that you’ve never had before, try a new activity, go hiking somewhere you’ve never been before, heck – go on a vacation to somewhere new if you can afford it.  You could even try things on a smaller scale by creating a Pandora station of music you wouldn’t typically listen to, or watching a new television show or movie.  Change your daily routine: drive a different route to work, be daring and wash your face before you brush your teeth.  New experiences are excellent ways to cultivate inspiration.

5. Write! 

I bet you thought you’d escaped this one.  I bet you’re thinking, “Nichole, you don’t know what you’re talking about. How can writing help my lack of inspiration to write?”  If you’re still feeling uninspired, search for poetry prompts.  Write about your day.  Start a blog and write about your interests.  Write a poem that imitates one of the new authors that you read.  Write a review for a new kind of food or wine or beer that you’ve tried.  Freewrite: just begin writing and see where your mind takes you.  Sometimes forcing yourself to write can be the best method to fix writers block.  Don’t worry about how your poem or piece of writing is going to turn out.  The process is more important than the product in this circumstance.

What methods do you use to inspire yourself?  Do you think any of these means of inspiration is more helpful than the others?  Share your ideas in the comments.