Help & Advice

The Leopard is a great forum for advice and ideas. We’re always learning from one another and keen to help.

We’ll publish hints and tips from time to time on aspects of writing or the burgeoning poetry scene regionally or across the UK.

Now, exclusive to The Leopard, here is Roger Elkin’s top tip for determining where to place the line breaks in free verse:

– Never end a line with a definite or indefinite article – ‘the’ or ‘a’

– Always read the line aloud to feel its natural rhythm. Raise the intonation slightly as you reach the end of the line, then pause before reading along. This will tell you better than anything else where the line should end.

Try it. You’ll find it works.

If you’re a budding poet and venturing into ‘open mic’ territory, you may be grateful for these helpful tips from The Poetry Society’s Paul McGrane.


Always choose a poem that will hold people’s attention. IF YOUR POEM GOES OVER THE PAGE IT’S TOO LONG FOR OPEN MIC.

Always include time for any introductions and links. (It’s possible to spend longer on this than your poem!).

Always stick to the time. Poems take longer to read out loud than silently.

Read your poem out loud at home beforehand – and time yourself.

Always memorise as much of your poem as possible. Sincerity is
appreciated just as much (if not more) than a ‘performance’.

Always arrive early for a practice if you’re unfamiliar with using a microphone.

Remember, nobody likes every poet – so don’t feel the need to apologise to the audience. However, be kind to them. They should be left wanting to hear you again – rather than wondering when you’re going to stop!

Remember, if you stick to time, people will listen. If you stumble over your words, go back to the beginning of that line and read it again.

Remember, good poems don’t come easily. Avoid poems written on the back of beer mats, flyers, etc. If you’re serious, take advantage of poetry workshops and courses; read contemporary poets; and subscribe to at least one poetry magazine.


6 Responses to Help & Advice

  1. Pingback: Look after the line-breaks … | leopardpoetry

  2. I am trying to get in touch to offer you and your members a 10% discount, obviously if you don’t have an event on that night, to come to hear John Hegley and The New Rope String Band on Saturday 22nd February.

  3. p.s. At Clonter Opera Theatre, Swettenham Heath, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 2LR Box Office 01260 224 514.

  4. Pingback: Launch of The Interpreter’s House 56 | poetgal

    • theleopard66 says:

      I’m not sure why this has been posted on The Leopard site, Poetgal … it looks as if it refers to another event somewhere. We are a Poetry Society Stanza but we didn’t organise the launch of the Interpreter’s House. Did you mean to post the comment here or on The Poetry Society’s website?

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