I have a rule to never use the word ‘like’ in my poetry. It is a rule I do break, but rarely. Almost always, it is better to go for the metaphor rather than the simile. Do not be ‘like an eagle.’ BE an eagle.
Unless one is Steve Miller, of course.
If nothing else, it makes ones voice more forceful, more active. It also involves a stepping away from prose; poetry is, ultimately, about metaphor. We become when we read or hear the poetic. Poetry eschews the everyday for the magical.
Or good poetry does. There is some pretty awful long-winded plodding stuff out there. Even bad, naive ‘personal’ poems one might read anywhere on line are better than some of the crap coming out of MFA programs.
But those bad poems can be improved. Poetry is both talent and learned skill. There is no need for theory, per se, just some guidelines such as the one with which I started this essay. I always carefully avoid reading literary theory myself.
Most importantly, one must read critically. Recognize what one likes or dislikes about another’s work. Not just, “I like it,” but why. Stop and think about it. That is the only way to learn to turn a critical eye to ones own writing.
Otherwise, one will never be a poet; one will only be like a poet. :)
Stephen Brooke ©2016