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Glossary of Poetic Terms

Alliteration: The repetition of the same sounds or letters at the beginning of words i.e. ‘red rabbits running’

Assonance: When the syllables of words near one another are similar, particularly with the rhyming of stressed vocals (not consonants) but also different vowels with repeated consonants i.e. ‘true shoe’

Caesura: A pause near the middle of a line often created with the use of a comma or full stop i.e. ‘I stopped. I thought’

Consonance: The repetition of the same consonants within a sentence or poem. Not to be confused with assonance.

Enjambment: When a sentence carries on, past the end of a line or stanza.

Fricative: A type of consonant which produces a friction sound when voiced, for examples ‘f’ and ‘th’

Half-rhyme: Can also be called near rhyme, imperfect rhyme, oblique rhyme, or slant rhyme. A rhyme where the stressed syllables of ending consonants match but the vowels before do not; a type of rhyme where sounds are similar but not the same.

Metaphor: A form of imagery where an object, person or thing is described by referring to it as something else. This establishes a comparison between the two things within the metaphor. For example, describing clouds as ‘rabbits’ tails’

Meter: Patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables, which makes up the rhyming structure of poems.

Onomatopoeia: The term to describe when a word sounds like what it represents or when a word is formed by sounds associated with what it represents i.e. creak

Pathetic Fallacy: When the weather in a poem or other literary work matches the speaker’s mood. When humans apply emotions to inanimate things such as the weather or objects.

Rhyme: The repetition of sounds in a phrase.

Rhythm: A sound pattern created by syllables, long and short and stressed and unstressed, being alternated.

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Best LGBT+ Poets

Some of the most important poetic figures have been writers who identify somewhere on the LGBT+ spectrum. Though centuries of censorship have worked to obscure our historic record of LGBT+ fiction and poetry, there is a strong range to pick from.

Christina Rossetti: The Victorian Pre-Raphaelite poet is best known for penning the Christmas carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, but her greatest achievement, from the perspective of shaping a queer canon, is ‘Goblin Market’. Originally, the narrative poem was branded as a moralistic children’s tale warning of sexual transgressions. However, strongly hinted at instances of female/female desire allow it to be read in a whole other light. It is unclear whether Rossetti was gay herself, but it is perhaps unlikely given her Catholic upbringing, although some of her biographers seem to think so.

Frank O’Hara: An American writer, curator and art critic who is considered one of the leading figures in the New York School. His brief, intimate poems have gained popularity with the millennial generation due to their confessional tone and ironic wit. He famously had a long-term love affair with the painter Larry Rivers.

Edwin Morgan: A Scottish poet whose sensual, imagist poetry evokes tender moments. By using the first person (‘me’ and ‘I’) he avoids using gender pronouns (‘he’ or ‘she’ etc). This approach helps to create more of a sense of immediacy and the impression of closeness with the reader. However, it is also a means to disguise the homoerotic subject of much of his work.

Audre Lorde: While the writer, feminist and civil rights activist is most famous for her speeches and prose work, such as the ground-breaking ‘Sister Outsider’, her poetry expresses her anger and frustration at the homophobia, racism and sexism of the modern world and, as such, has struck a note with contemporary generations.

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The Best Modern Poets

It is a commonly held opinion that quality in the arts, poetry especially, has been in near constant decline since the imagined ‘golden age’ of the Renaissance. However, we at would contend that poetry has really just been on an upwards ascent since then. Yes, Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ from the Early Modern Period are good, but we find it a lot easier to sit down with some William Carlos Williams. Here’s our selection of great modern poets.

TS Eliot: The modernist poet, who was also a respected literary critic, was a member of the famed Bloomsbury Group, which also included Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and Evelyn Waugh. Oxford educated, his poetry would become very influential for post-modern writers and creative minds who employed the deconstructive, collage method which Eliot uses in The Wasteland.

William Carlos Williams: The simple, sultry beauty of ‘This is Just to Say’ is evoked by domestic imagery and allows the reader/listener to visualize the private matrimonial space to which the speakers makes reference. The Cuban-American poet as also a doctor and closely linked to the Imagist Movement.

WB Yeats: With a creative output which begins at the turn of the century, Yeats’ poetry is marked by tumult and chance. Initially one of the last Romantics, who made poetic and dramatic work within the Celtic Revival style, he went on to dabble in Imagism, and later pledged his allegiance to Modernism. His list of greatest hits is wide-ranging and includes ‘The Host of the Air’, ‘The Swans at Coole’, ‘The Second Coming’ and ‘Adam’s Curse.’

Emily Dickinson: Renowned for her revolutionary, explosive use of punctuation. Dickinson was also quite a character in her own life, away from her poems, and is famed for being a total recluse, only leaving her house to go to church.

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