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Secrets of a Slush-Piler:
OK, on to actual poetry. Here's some things that come to mind immediately:

1. Just as with exclamation points, every poet has a lifetime limit on the number of times cunt is used in a poem.

2. Don't ever, ever, start a poem with 'I remember'.

3. You don't have to list all your credit. All 67 of them, including the local horticultural newsletter and your high school awards.

4. You can mention that the last time we wrote back that we thought your work needed 'more magic', and that you've tried to put 'more magic' into your work, but the chances are that that reader is no longer with us.

5. If you have to explain what a poem is about, one of three things has happened, and none of them is a good thing.

6. We have a strict limit of 10 similes per poem.

7. If you don't know what in media res means, you should.

8. Onomatopoeia is to poetry like sunbathing is to skin cancer.

9. A mediocre poem is no less mediocre because each word is a single line.

10. Avoid sending a packet of poems, each of which has a sandpiper playing a major role.

11. Nobody wants to read about old people making love. Even old people.

12. It is generally not a wise strategy to use phrases that were, coincidentally, the principal refrain of a Superbowl commercial.

None of this advice applies to my friends and blogmates, of course, all of whom are wonderful poets and savvy competitors.
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