Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Blogger, Sheryl L. Nelms

Please join me in welcoming poet Sheryl L. Nelms as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Sheryl is the first poet to guest blog here. Other authors may have written poems, but poetry is Sheryl’s genre. Her current release is BLUEBONNETS, BOOTS AND BUFFALO BONES.

Sheryl stops by today to talk about “Poets Are Not Writers.”

“Poets are not writers,” she said.  “They just put words on paper.”

That statement came from a romance writer one night at the Trinity Writer’s Workshop. Ever since that woman said that to me it has stuck in my brain.

Poets are writers, just like every other kind of writer. And as far as I know every variety of writer puts words on paper or a computer disc or zip drive or hard drive, sooner or later.

Since I became a writer thirty-three years ago I have attended many writers’ conferences, as a student and later as a speaker. The thing that I find with a lot of writers, especially beginning writers is that they tend to pigeonhole themselves at those conferences. Often they tend to only go to sessions in their genre, instead of sampling other perceptions.

In the past thirty-three years I have attended classes at colleges, writer’s conferences, including Bread Loaf and community classes in all varieties of writing. Each one of those classes has helped me grow as a writer and sparkle my writing with a slightly different perspective.
I have gone to the East Texas Romance Writers Conference, the Denton, Texas Storytellers conclave, gatherings of Cowboy

Poets, journalism classes at Eastern Oklahoma College and The North Texas Outdoor Writer’s Conference. I have attended sessions on romance writing, how to write wildlife stories, journalism writing and style, fiction writing, non-fiction writing, short story writing, true confessions, rhymed poetry, essays and flash fiction. 
Every single session has been a boost to my writing. I have learned how to do my research. Yes, I said research. Every poem that I send to an editor has been researched. When I send a poem out my research has been done and if an editor criticizes what I have written, I can back up my work with a bibliography. I have had several editors’ dispute facts in my poems. But each time that happens, I reply with a quote and book title. Each time my poems were published my way.

Another skewed idea is that a poem comes ready to publish. Many writers who claim they are poets believe that their words are a gift, as is. They think that nothing can be changed.
When I am doing a poem I revise, revise, and revise. Then I may stand the poem on its head. Give it a different view of the world. A different take. Often I shuffle the lines around just to see what will happen. In this instance, I use the fiction writer’s “What If?”

One of the best class I have ever taken was “Novel Writing” taught by Jack Bickham. I constantly use ideas I heard in that class every day in my writing.
My final comeback is that writers are poets and poets are writers. It does not matter what you are writing, a good writer is a good writer. And a bad one is a bad one.

Sheryl, thanks for guest blogging here today. Thanks also for giving us a look at writing from a poet’s point of view.

For more information on Sheryl and her book, BLUEBONNETS, BOOTS AND BUFFALO BONES, visit

Here’s a trailer featuring Sheryl reading her poetry, enjoy.


  1. I love the name and cover of this book. Gorgeous!

  2. "Poets are not writers, they just put words to paper" Indeed!!!!
    What else to writers do except put words to paper?
    To me a writer is anyone who translates a thought or an idea into concert words- prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction, that is only the method.

    Thank you for a lovely post.

  3. I can't believe someone would say that - of course poets are writers. In my personal opinion, their writing is harder to do than a novelist's writing.

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sheryl.

    Sheryl - It really is hard to believe that a fellow writer would tell you that poets are not writers. I wish I could make words do what you poets make them do! Of course poets are writers! Anyone who uses written words to express ideas is a writer. Thanks for sharing the "inside information" about poetry, too : ).

  5. Sheryl, thanks again for posting here today. Poets are writers. Keep up the great work.

    Niki, Rayna, Kathy and Margot, thanks so much for stopping by. I agree with all of you, poets are writers. Thanks again for the support you're showing a fellow writer (poet).

  6. Poets are indeed masterful writers!

  7. Off course poets are writers, sheesh. Idiots out there, lol! The thing I've learned from writing poetry is rythym. The feel of the words, the way they sound. The sparce way so much emotion can be evoked in so few words.

    So I come to writing prose with a bit different perspective. Poetry has talk me much about good writing. :-)

    Like the title of your book, ma'am.

    Mason, thank you for sharing Sheryl with us and her words of wisdom. :-)

  8. Ack! Poets are not writers? Poets are writers distilled! In the words of Charles Baudelaire, "Always be a poet, even in prose." 

  9. Good post! Something I've never really thought about before.

    Thanks for sharing your experience(s) and viewpoint, Sheryl!

  10. I'm surprised any writer would think that. Poetry is writing in one of its purist forms!

  11. A poet! How exciting--and a coincidence, as I have Emily Dickinson biographer Lyndall Gordon on my blog today! Craziness.

    And "poets are not writers?" Pshaw. It seems to me poetry was the first respected form of writing, and the mainstay for many of the greats--Shakespeare, Byron, Keats, to name a few.

    Emily Dickinson biographer on SouthernCityMysteries

  12. I learn new things about writing every day.

  13. I'm not a poet but do appreciate good poetry. Its a gift that not a lot of people have.

    Stephen Tremp

  14. Poet's are not writers? I had better put my pen down then! Some people come out with foolish statements.

    Interesting post and video.Thanks for sharing Mason and Sheryl.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.