Kathy D’Arcy is a poet and creative writing teacher based in Cork. Her poetry collections are Encounter (Lapwing 2010) and The Wild Pupil (Bradshaw 2012). She was poet in residence with Tigh Filí Cultural Centre from 2012-2015 and designed their Eurochild and YouthLife poetry workshop tours during that time – these national workshop tours culminated in the publication of international anthologies of poetry written by children and young people. In 2013 she received an Arts Council literature bursary to develop her long poem ‘Camino’ about walking ancient roads, and in 2014 she was awarded an Irish Research Council grant to continue the development of her work in a Creative Writing PhD. She is currently working on a long poem that is a kind of magical journey through the history of Irish women poets. She teaches in UCC’s Women’s Studies and Creative Writing departments and teaches creative writing to people of all ages and levels of experience. She is also a playwright, and her play ‘This is my Constitution’ was staged in Dáil Éireann in 2013 at a parliamentary briefing about removing sexist wording from the Irish Constitution.
I think that a lot of creative writing teaching today focuses on tidying up style and technique while ignoring the heart of a poem – what it is or wants to be, what it stands for. It’s as important to know what your poem’s identity is as that it looks good on the page, is correctly punctuated and structured, reads coherently and uses just the right words. What is this poem trying to do? How well is it doing it?
The best poems make us, the readers, do the work. Rather than explaining yourself and telling the reader how to feel, work on creating images that allow the reader to have the feelings for themselves.
Your poems can be about anything, in any form you choose: but you should always know why you chose the form you did, whether rhymed or unrhymed, long or short, long-lined or short-lined, broken into stanzas or all one piece. How do these choices make the piece more itself?
It may take some time for me to respond to your submissions, but I will. RhymeRag can only showcase a very small number of the submissions we receive so please don’t be discouraged if yours isn’t chosen. When the writer Stephen King got his first rejection as a teenager, he was overjoyed. ‘I’ve begun,’ he thought, and stuck the rejection letter on his wall. Now he’s world-famous. So take heart – you’ve begun!