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Tag Archives: Poetry

What I Learned About Writing This Year…from Unstressed Syllables

Today, my snippet of courage has come to you in the form of a poem: my attempt to convey via symbols the intangible emotions — the happiness, the wonder, the impish delight — I feel at the realization that Unstressed Syllables will be a year old tomorrow…

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Sestinas

…After I read Aaron’s comment, I realized that here, at Unstressed Syllables, I have, in fact, not been talking about sestinas at all. What a horrid oversight on my part. I do believe it’s high time I rectified this.
At first glance, a sestina is nothing more than a rhyming poem of six six-line stanzas with a tercet…

On Getting It Right: How to Write a Grant Application

Tweet I’ve been investigating document types for a while now, and this week I’ve been talking about grant writing — the common name used for writing grant applications. It’s enough of a complicated process that it does have its own name (albeit a slightly confusing one). It’s not that writing grant applications is puzzling. Virtually […]

Write a Sonnet (Creative Writing Exercise)

This week you’re going to write a sonnet. Some of you just rolled your eyes, because sonnets are child’s play. Some of you just gripped at a failing heart, because sonnets are Shakespeare-level expert stuff. If you’re in either category, you missed the point of yesterday’s post. That’s okay. I’ll say another word or two about it next Tuesday, but for now I want you to humor me.

Loving Language (The Purpose of Poetry)

When I was in third grade (or maybe it was second), I wrote a poem about sunset, and rest. I did it in number 2 pencil on a sheet of wide-ruled paper torn out of a 78-cent spiral notebook. I illustrated the edges, with an angry sun and an optimistic moon, and my best effort at a seagull. I can remember this in such clear detail, because I’ve still got that page. It’s creased with folds, and the pencil’s faded, but I’ve still got it, tucked away somewhere. The meter is awful.

Strip Poem (Technical Writing Exercise)

Later this week, I’m going to spend a lot of time talking to the creative writers about poetry, and on Friday they’ll get to write sonnets. I wouldn’t expect sonnets out of my technical writers, but I still recommend that you take the time to read Thursday’s article, when it comes around. Poetry is language distilled, and technical writing is all about efficiency, brevity, and impact. The approaches are different, but the destination is the same.

So this week I want you to be poetic, too.

Introductions Are in Order

Tweet Or perhaps I should call it a Character Description. Whatever the case, I’m proud to announce’s newest contributing author, Courtney Cantrell. Courtney is the co-creator of our Facebook writer’s group, Mightier than the Sword, and one of my dear friends. Though we’d run in overlapping social circles for years, I met her through […]

Stressed and Unstressed Syllables

There are basically two standard ways of indicating stressed syllables: by adding a vertical stress mark after each stressed syllable, or by making each stressed syllable bold or UPPERCASE (or BOTH). You can see an example of the stress marks at, and you can see an example of the bold syllable at