Writing Poems That Are Interesting and Accessible

Writing Poems That Are Interesting and Accessible

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Sometimes when we go to “write a poem,” we try to be “poetic.” As a result, our work can end up sounding stilted, obscure, odd, off-putting. In contrast, when we go to write about people, and we concentrate on portraying actions, emotions, and characters honestly, our work can end up being gratifyingly accessible. A poem can render the ordinary extraordinary, and it does so not necessarily through “poetic language,” but through the process of paying close attention.


A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. He has published seven volumes of poetry, most recently Bodies in Motion: Poems About Dance. His collection This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family. In 2019, he published his debut collection of fiction, Bleachers, which consists of fifty-four linked pieces that take place during a youth soccer game. He also has edited the collection of film criticism A Century of the Marx Brothers, and with his wife, Danielle Tarmey, he researched and wrote two editions of A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries. More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com.

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