. How to Write Contemporary Poetry a pantoum in free verse composition keep letters lower case. dump classical tradition then cite the marketplace. keep letters lower case make use of ampersands then cite the marketplace if no one understands. make use of ampersands so texts can look progressive. if no one understands that means your work’s expressive. so texts can look progressive choose words meant to confuse. that means your work’s expressive, with no need for a muse. choose words meant to confuse in free verse composition. with no need for a muse, dump classical tradition. . . Brush Up Your Shakespeare If you want to get rich writing verse Skip the stay at a London-based Hilton. Grab some books and, for better or worse, Learn from Tennyson, Coleridge and Milton. But the blue ribbon poet to rave on (Take Cole Porter’s advice with good cheer) Is the playwright from Stratford on Avon. So lay on! And brush up your Shakespeare! Channel Hamlet like Gielgud or Hopkins Then use phrases like “zounds!” and “ods bodkins!” If you reference a romance-filled garden, As you like, it’s the Forest of Arden. Should your heroine seem adversarial Make her charm-filled and sprightly like Ariel. If your hero lacks any persona Give him two – like those gents from Verona! If their romance gets too hot to handle Have your lovers cry “out, out brief candle!” End Othello’s concern with that hanky; And make Kate, the young shrew, much less cranky. Keep Ophelia away from herb rinses And bar Richard the Third from young princes. Cleopatra should not bet on snake-eyes; Don’t let Titus Andronicus bake pies. Let your villains get lost in a tempest While your hero prevails---that gets them pissed! Have the royals you write commend all staff And be truthful more often than Falstaff. If your heroine whines but won’t do much Tell the lady she doth protest too much. If some squatters take over his camp spot Have your hero shout, “Out of my damn spot!” If your heroine’s tattoos are sprayed on Make those artworks the stuff dreams are made on! If your hero is too shy to seize her Give him gall just like Julius Caesar. With this fulsome advice, sally forth! Write light verse just like Henry the Fourth Or a comedy based on King Lear. Just remember to credit Shakespeare! . . Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.