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Poetry workshop: How long is a line?

Alison Chisholm explores a subscriber’s poem to consider how much material you should put in or take out

Deciding on the quantity of material to include in a poem requires a delicate balance. If you say too much, you risk the complaint that the poem is tedious. Say too little, and you seem to be setting out to baffle or to short-change the reader. Writer and historical researcher Greg Howes from Carmarthenshire, Wales, considers this point in relation to his poem.

The poet comments that there are few creatures more mysterious and engaging than the humble (and not so humble) moth… they are somewhat akin to the ghostly ‘Grey Lady’ of British folk tradition, omnipresent, yet so little is known (or even enquired) about them. Despite their often muted hues and diminutive size few creatures conjure up quite so much of an instinctive (and largely undeserved) shudder as a moth can.

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Writing Competition Special 2017 – win over £570,000 in more than 200 competitions! Break into young adult fiction Money matters: • How to expand your writing income online • Should you ever write for free? • How much do authors really earn? 20 packed pages of writing opportunities in Writers' News Star interview with Eowyn Ivey, author of international bestseller The Snow Child

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