BellaOnline Literary Review

Showing vs Telling Poetry

When we read a poem, we want to experience the situation and feel the sensations. We want to be shown what is happening, not told what we should feel. So we would resist a poem that said:

He was angry
She was hurt
He pushed her
Into the dirt.
Feel sad.

We don't want to be told what happened and told what to feel. We want to experience the scene and feel our reactions naturally.

words of broken glass
swiftly pierce paper-thin skin;
wounds that seldom heal

Senryu by Lisa Hodges

See how we aren't "told" how to feel in this poem? We are presented with precise images and we draw them into our soul. We feel the reaction viscerally.

I bring you my pain
Foundling florid scream
Nameless, shameless
It writhes at your feet
Toys with your laces
As it strives to shinny up
Your worn denim leg
Lapping nine-dollar loafers.

Pet by Jody Zolli

Again the poet doesn't instruct us what to feel. She presents the images and lets us react, as companions in the process, to the scenario she has presented.

Trust your audience. Allow them to draw conclusions from the world you have created.

To Learn More  .   .   .

Poetry Submission Guidelines
Poetry Types
Rhyming Poem Guidelines
Poetry Cliches to Avoid
Creating Immersive Poetry
Showing vs Telling Poetry  ← You Are Here
Calculating a Word Count
Proofreading Your Submission
Poetry Submission Form