5 Reasons To Read Poetry

My love of writing started with poetry and song lyrics. Although I’ve been reading novels since I was kid, I branched out to read poems in my teen and adult years. I think all novelists should be reading poetry along with the books they read! Here are five reasons to read poetry, especially if you write novels.

Expose yourself to new vocabulary

Genre tropes mean you see a lot of the same language used for characters, settings, and conflicts. Poetry can span so many genres and topics, and playing with vocabulary is a key aspect of writing poetry. For me personally, I’m always looking for new words to add to my vocabulary. In all the languages I know, vocabulary is my weak spot. I struggle to use different words and get creative, so poetry gives me easy access to unique words.

Read styles different from genre fiction

If you’re like me and read a lot of genre fiction in the same demographic (YA fantasy!), you’ll notice that a lot of the writing styles are… very similar. Poems tend to have a strong voice, especially since there are so many styles of poems. Haikus, sonnets, free verse, spoken word—they’re all different. I love spoken word poetry and have a background in writing and performing it, and it shows in my fiction writing! Writing that can be read aloud has a different flow to writing that is easier to be read. So

Discover new writers

One of the best reasons! There are so many poets out there! It’s always a good time to find new writers whose work you enjoy. Poets need support and rarely become bestsellers, so hype them up and follow them online when you can.

Get out of reading slumps

Reading a new genre or form is one of my secrets for getting out of a reading slump. It’s an easy way to refresh my palette for reading. I outlined a few more ways I get out of a reading slump, but poetry and anthologies with poetry are some of the surefire ways for me to do it.

Read innovative writing

This is similar to the different styles, but I want to emphasise the innovation of poetry. Poetry can break all the rules of grammar and syntax. Metaphors, similes, symbolism, and imagery shine through in poetry. Innovation in writing craft leads to inspiration!


Here are a few recommendations for some poetry collections available online/digitally.

the secrets i keep by alex casso (Amazon)
bone by yrsa daley-ward (Amazon)
Various Collections by Elle (Gumroad)
Compasses and Other Ornaments of Direction by Coryl Reef (Amazon; I gotta promo!)

If you’re a poet and have some published writing (self-published, or self-hosted, or anywhere else!) feel free to comment below and I’ll be updating this post with them.

Launching A Patreon

After some deliberating, I’ve decided to launch a Patreon for my blog, writing, and art!

Why Patreon?

I played with the idea of placing advertisements on my blog, but I wanted to keep this website as clear and focused as possible on my content. I can’t describe how frustrated I get when I’m visiting a blog, trying to read a post or look at pictures, and I have to scroll through advertisements in order to find the content. Not just scroll past ads to get to the content, but to dig for it amongst the clutter.

I didn’t want that experience for my blog. It felt inaccessible and off-brand for me. So to monetise my work (because a blog is work, writing is work, and art is work), I settled on Patreon.

It’s free to set up. It’s also a platform I’m familiar with. But most importantly, it’s something I need to stick to in order to gain the rewards from it. I hope to get some support for my creative endeavours, notably my artwork. I haven’t had much motivation to create and share my art. Recently, I realised why: I didn’t have an audience for it, and I didn’t value my efforts.

With Patreon, I feel so much more motivated to deliver content, regardless of patrons and how many I have. It’s an external form of accountability.

It’s also a space that I want to grow and focus on. As such, I’ll be announcing blog posts, writing updates, and artwork there before I post to any other social media. While I will continue tweeting, instagramming, pinning, and facebooking, Patreon will come first.

You can follow me for free to get those first updates. I will love you and be eternally grateful if you pledge, too! Exclusive content is available at tier one, the Cait Siths, for $1 a month, so you don’t need to pledge much to get behind-the-scenes.

Click below to reach my Patreon page. I hope to see you there!

Patreon Become A Patron Button

Writing Transformation From Lit Mags

Improve Wring Craft From Lit Mags

During my reading slump at the start of this year, I picked up periodicals again. I had burned myself out of genre fiction and YA fiction. I craved a way for me to improve writing craft. So I turned to my stack of literary magazines and picked Room Magazine to marathon. They release publications four times a year and publish writing exclusively from people who are not cisgender men.

The volumes include poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, interviews, and essays. The bulk of the content is poetry and short fiction. Eight issues of this magazine is two years’ worth of material, and each volume consists of around 90 pages of content.

I read them in the span of a few weeks. I’m a slow reader, so reading that quantity in that time frame is unheard of for me.

I read nearly 800 pages of literary fiction. I love poetry and short stories, and even though there were pieces I didn’t like in some of the volumes, I still read them. There must have been over 100 pieces total—100 complete written pieces. Imagine reading 100 books, or 100 essays, condensed down into a few pages. That many self-contained stories is magical; inspiring; awesome.

Diverse content

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading diversely—and not just sociological “diverse.” You need to read writing from disabled, queer, black, and/or indigenous people, and/o people of colour. Remember they write more than books! Read their poems and short stories and more. Read different forms—poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays—and different genres in fiction. Even if you write in one genre or form, read widely and away from the style and tropes you normally write.

I’m also a poet and short story writer, so I went into the literary magazine reading with the aims of improving my poems and short stories.

Improve writing craft

Writers learn from reading. And I learned a lot, even if I wasn’t consciously studying, analysing, or evaluating. These pieces were vastly different from the writing I was producing. My main project this year has been my older YA high fantasy novel.

The writing I put into my fantasy novel surged in quality. My words became confident. I sat down to my writing sessions and produced deliberate work. Since I write my novels by scene, I had less difficulty creating self-contained segments of conflict. I could more easily visualise and plan out a condensed piece of my story.

And I won’t get into specifics of how my style of writing changed. But poetry is like a salve on trope-laden, saturated genres like fantasy. I attribute much of my good and great writing to the fact that I started out my writing journey with poetry. If I hadn’t learned poems, I wouldn’t be as good of a writer.

Refreshed palette

In my post about how I beat a reading slump, I outlined three ways I refresh my palette and taste for reading. Literary magazines fall into new genres and other storytelling media. So not only has my wring transformed, but my reading habits have improved and rejuvenated from the change.


If you’d like to subscribe to Room Magazine, I highly encourage you to visit their website and do so. Whether it’s this magazine or another journal, adding a literary magazine to your reading regime will benefit you. And of course all the writers your subscription supports!

The best way for a writer to improve writing craft is to read. Read as much, as varied, and as often as you can. There are so many stories beyond the bestseller and new release shelves in corporate stores. With the Internet at your fingertips, seek out something different to read—and watch yourself change.

Poetry Collection Cover Reveal

Since I’m self-publishing my collection, I had control over the design. Being the artsy fuck that I am, I made the cover myself!

It has just the right amount of discordance to convey the discomfort that I feel is so present in each poem.

Anyway, here we go! No sense dillydallying.

A grey and blue compass on a green and blue high-contrast marble background that reads "Compasses and Other Ornaments of Direction" by Coryl Reef

It’s just a thumbnail. But I’m very, very pleased with it. I designed the compass by hand from sketches and then to a digital rendering, and the background is from hand-marbled paper that I scanned and messed around with. I’m proud of how the design ties into the poems without being overt.

Next up will be the pre-order links! They’ll be coming fairly soon for both ebook and paperback through Amazon KDP and CreateSpace.

Announcement: Self-Publishing My Poetry

I’m proud to announce I’m self-publishing a poetry collection this November!

COMPASSES AND OTHER ORNAMENTS OF DIRECTION is a 4-part journey that starts in the bliss of toxic love and finishes with lost and forward-thinking freedom after an abusive relationship.

This is a collection of poems I’ve been working on since 2013, when I first started trying to break free from an abusive online relationship. The majority of the poems were completed years ago, but only now have I processed them and the events they percolated from. I added more poems recently, bringing the collection to 4 parts instead of 3.

I’ve also started to realise how fucked up the origin of all these words and pains really is. I’m only now telling it with an appropriate amount of clarity, rather than disillusionment.

When I was a teenager, first new to the Internet and chat rooms and messaging programs, I met lots of people. People who were nice, people who weren’t. People who were catfishes and people who were random weirdos like me just chatting to others for the fun of it. And when I say “teenager”, I mean I was a 13-year-old who was relatively unsupervised and interacted with some creepy men.

I tend to romanticise the man and the relationship I had with him. I want so badly right now to speak well of him—a sentiment echoed in the poem “reincarnate” in the 4th part of the collection—but I know I shouldn’t. There are equal parts shame and protection when I think about him. I’m ashamed, in my 20s, to have been involved with a man in his 20s when I was 13 to 18.

I don’t talk to him now. I haven’t met him in person, I haven’t spoken to him in years, and I have no intention of reconnecting with him or revealing his full name. We weren’t exactly “involved” or dating, but I spent every waking moment talking to him or wanting to talk to him.

This is a hard story to tell when it’s one framed by shame and hurt, instead of the superiority or nonchalance with which I used to tell it. I hate being wrong. And I hate feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I was a child and he was an adult. No matter what anyone says, I’m not at fault.

And I guess this poetry collection is me trying to express the blame and pain I’ve held onto all these years, all the time I was brainwashed into dependency, all the parts of myself I molded to fit his desires.

So please buy the poetry collection. It releases on November 18 exclusively on Amazon in paperback and Kindle forms.

November 18 is significant to him. Maybe if I reclaim it some way, mark it as the day I slung my poems into the world, I’ll associate that day less with him and more with myself.

I’ll be posting small excerpts on my Twitter and my Instagram leading up to the release, as well as the preorder link when I get it! Follow to keep in touch. Cover reveal will be coming soon, too!

Writing Wednesday: “An Electrifying Feel”

A photograph of a misty cityscape.

A ray of light glitters on the skyscraper
and blinds me on my way down the stairs,
past the sleeping neighbours in my apartment building—
past the doorman—a woman—who nods to me silently,
acknowledging the headphones and wry smile
glittering on my face.

A thick mist blinds taxi drivers for a few blocks,
white and grey on the concrete world,
and sits and rests from its time in the sky
gathering droplets to cover this city on some night
or some day or afternoon
when the cluster of moisture ascends back home.
My walk down the street fills me with tension
but no fear. The haze around me is a repeat
of the moments my eyes and ears opened this morning
to the honking and faded taxi cab on the curb.

My clunky, comfortable boots smack the concrete,
like kneading it for baking, like turning the molecules
from liquid and paste to elastic crumb.
Dirt lines the sidewalk, dry as sand, and sifts under my heels.
these combat boots are not for battle–just for fashion,
and the pounding menace to delight every step
on my way to an okay job that keeps my mind off
who made all these molecules and why.

My cousin waves quickly at me through the bakery window
down the street from my open-concept office
her face and hands covered in almond flour.
She and her celiac disease founded “G-F-Delish”
and though the wheat dominating the world does not hurt me,
her cakes and pies and cookies are divine. I return her wave
and cross the gratefully empty intersection, Work looming
high above, the sky reflecting in the windows.

The office has a single floor in this building
like all the other businesses above and below us.
My job title boasts Senior Information Technician
on my business cards and resume,
but amongst the simple network setup, the modem, the router,
the dongles on desktops without wireless adaptors,
I am the Data Analyst and Bookkeeper for
this beloved startup, in the heart of a beloved city.
At my desk, my computer, my software,
I alter, needlessly, the lines and borders
above and below the numerical statistics on my screen.

The founder works a second job, building this new company
on the side. She is kind and assertive. She hired me on conditions,
not demands or requirements or experience,
out of the pity and knowledge that I couldn’t make rent.
A year into the job and we have grown,
and our finances improved, with the charts in this program,
the numbers from my keyboard, and the co-workers
quietly sipping coffee or tea or water at their desks.
These women around me, with their myriad shoes,
blazers and cardigans, humble their prowess,
and continually build us up—build the business—
build the world.

We are small, like bacteria in the gut regulating acidity,
and we are mighty enough for ourselves,
for the paychecks and satisfaction;
for the clients and customers here and around;
for the clattering of keyboards;
for the joy of production.

Writing Wednesday: Writing Prompts

A close-up of a notebook and fountain pen with faded writing.

I absolutely love writing prompts when I’m trying to go through a writing exercise. Often, freewriting—just starting from nothing and going at the words—leaves me blank. I like to have a jumping point for my writing.

Now, I’m a poet and a prose writer, but I remembered an event I went to where the mediating author gave us prompts based on our own experiences. So I figured I’d include some journaling prompts for any of you personal writers! You can, of course, adapt any of the prompts for any form of writing you see fit. And don’t feel confined to the guidelines. Writing prompts exist to inspire you, so take what works and leave what doesn’t.

Prose
  1. Write a short story from beyond the grave.
  2. Challenge yourself to a flash fiction under 500 words.
  3. Get three sentences from three different books, and use them to create a story with the theme of “exile.”
  4. Write a flash fiction without using one of the following letters: S, R, N, or T. Your optional theme is “distance.”

Poetry
  1. Using sonnet rhyme scheme (English or Petrarchan—your choice), write a poem about a blind date.
  2. How many synonyms can you think of for one of the following words? Use them in a poem addressing the notion of “paradox.”
    • Path
    • Write
    • Turn as a verb
    • Turn as a noun
  3. Write two connected poems: one celebrates something and the other inquires about it.
  4. Write a concrete/image poem (one that has a shape) that contradicts the content.

Journalling and Personal Creative Non-fiction
  1. Think of your earliest memory—and then add a butterfly to it.
  2. Create an onomatopoeia for something a family member or friend does. Write about that activity or action.
  3. Think of something that stands out in your memory that is red, yellow, or blue. Describe it, only naming it once.
  4. Write about the first time you saw something sublime in nature—the ocean, a mountain, a canyon, a waterfall… What was it like?

Feel free to leave any prompts, or your feedback, in the comments!

Writing Wednesday: Predictive Text Poem

Yeah I’m sure the best price

online for a few weeks of my own

and a bit more than a year

or more than a year.

I am not a problem with the following:

models and battery life performance

after one of our refurbished Cisco

available to buy and sell used or new

on a map and I.

I am a the the

same time of the most I don’t have to feel for a bit

like to be a good day out out

for the next couple of years.

Writing Wednesday 13

Sevenling 4

He left a voicemail on my new cell phone
and a letter at the backyard door
to tell me he moved out of state.

I called the number he wrote,
heard a message of non-service,
and sent a bounced email to his address.

Our daughter studies abroad.

Writing Wednesday 13

Writing Wednesday 12

Sevenling 3

She wanted to ride the Ferris wheel
and see the pier on the coast
from the bumper cars’ queue.

Her father skimped on last month’s cheque
and gave her balloons with horses
instead of dogs

like I told him.

Writing Wednesday 12