Ten Tips For a Successful Poem

Mike Ladd gives ten short tips on how to assess if a poem is successful:

  1. It entertains – in the broadest sense, you want to stay with it.
  2. It’s visual/aural/sensual.
  3. It has intelligence and feeling. Not only do you come away with ideas, but the sense of having felt something, experienced it.
  4. It’s memorable, you have a sense of it staying with you, or you want to come back to it again.
  5. It has wit, humour, and original use of language.
  6. it has an enjoyable structure/musicality.
  7. It has social relevance (how many people does it affect?)
  8. It’s efficient. It doesn’t waste words. No dead bits.
  9. It avoids cliche and platitude.
  10. It has a recognisable style (a combination of all these elements).

Want to learn more about crafting poetry? Come along to the Introduction to Contemporary Poetry workshop.


Mike Ladd has worked in radio for thirty years and currently produces Poetica, on ABC Radio National. Mike has published seven collections; the most recent is Karrawirra Parri: Walking the Torrens from Source to Sea from Wakefield Press. Since the 1980s, he’s been experimenting with poetry on screen and as audio. He is a poetry mentor, a peer of the Literature Assessment Panel of the Australia Council, and occasionally he reviews poetry for the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Book Review.

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