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Andrea Dietrich's Blog

About Andrea Dietrich
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Andrea Dietrich grew up in Iowa and now resides in Utah with a spouse and two cats. She has two grown children and three grandchildren. Having graduated BYU with a Spanish major/ESL minor, she has spent most of her adult life teaching. It wasn't until 2000 that she began writing in earnest and discovering her "niche" as a writer of lyrical poetry. The internet opened up a new world for her, and she has spent nearly a decade now participating in poetry clubs, acting as a judge of poetry contests for various magazines and for the website Shadow Poetry, and also, entering poetry contests herself.

Ms. Dietrich has won numerous awards, as well as the title Poet of the Year 2008, from the Yahoo group, Poetry For Thought. In addition, she has won prizes from the magazines Lucidity, Bell's Letters, Art with Words, Poets at Work and SP Quill, the magazine for which she wrote grammar and poetry articles as well as movie reviews and for which she acted as poetry editor for the head editor Marie Summers for six years. Many of her poems have appeared in Shadows Ink, a yearly published series of chapbooks of award winning poetry as well as in numerous other anthologies. Her short stories appeared in many issues of SP Quill and much of her poetry is published in eight chapbooks (the most recent one soon to be published is called Prosies), which can be purchased at Shadowpoetry.com.


 

Most Recent Blog Post


New Contest: Picture Perfect
Blog Posted:8/9/2013 12:36:00 AM

 

I know I am going to look like a witch or some horrible snob telling people to use good grammar, but I am an ESL teacher, so it's in my blood! Also, this is something that has been going through my mind for a long time now:

Poets all over the internet are making errors, sometimes very small errors, which I feel a seasoned writer should not be making. Nobody is perfect. I realize that, and I can mess up with grammar and spelling just like anybody else, but in this age in which everyone is texting, I feel that there is less importance being placed on some basic writing skills. Here are some things I am hoping I can help make people aware of because these rules will be noticed by good publishers of poetry!  

1.  Consistency of Verbs: Sometimes I will be reading a poem and loving it, and suddenly I find the poet has begun writing in a different verb tense. If the action is taking place in the past, the action does not suddenly change to the present tense, and vice versa, unless of course, your poem is about a past event and in the next stanza you change deliberately to the present tense because the setting of your poem has changed. 

2. Correct Words and Word Forms:  Sometimes I will notice that a person is using a word in his/her poem that seems very weird to me. I go to the dictionary to make sure I am not wrong and then I see that the word has no relation to what the person is trying to say. Sometimes this happens inside a poem that is otherwise very beautifully crafted. Also a poet might use the noun form of a word when he needs to be using a verb. This is the most common way I have seen people make errors with word form.

3. Spelling: In this category I would also include things such as using 's unnecessarily. I eliminated a nice poem in my last contest for using 's a few times for the plural. I just don't like seeing that kind of thing in a contest poem.

These three things are what I will be paying the most attention to regarding the use of good grammar in my Picture Perfect contest. Of course, the most important thing is the use of imagery! I just want to see a higher standard in writing, and I think those who truly value their craft will want to try to edit their poetry and make it look as "clean" as possible!




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  1. Date: 8/23/2013 8:15:00 PM
    Are we really advancing the cause of quality poetry by not pointing out the problem. Some will get angry but the serious poet will take suggestions for improvement to heart. Editing for contests may not be allowed; but if a host could point out in a simple comment, This is a great poem except for the spelling mistakes or ___________ (fill in the blank). Perhaps that could be the point of an upcoming contest. Improving your entry from a past contest. Sorta like what Russell Sivey did with his 5 Minute Contest followed up with a Complete Your Poem Contest.

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  1. Date: 8/10/2013 7:27:00 PM
    You know! I'm in total agreement and I'm sure everyone would love to know, I do so much of it wrong still, as much as I focus on grammar as much as I try [I hate it!] I am getting writing returned to me saying great content polish the mechanics AND grammar IS what they mean!!! If the message you wanted to get through to the reader doesn't get through because your grammar is SO bad it's SAD!

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  1. Date: 8/10/2013 10:30:00 AM
    my captcha say BTW, so hmm BTW, is the max line in your contest really just 16 lines?!? 16?? 16?? can't it be 26?! kidding, just kidding....another BTW, for me, you know its' the "it's" and "its" :p of course my "its'" there was intentional :p

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    p.iNk Avatar binibining p.iNk Date: 8/10/2013 11:44:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    >.<
    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/10/2013 12:06:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    haha, that's a great captcha!! I actually prefer even fewer than 16 lines because I love to print out my contest poems and just study them out in the sun!! And I use up too much ink doing that! yes, the its vs it's thing is very annoying!
    p.iNk Avatar binibining p.iNk Date: 8/10/2013 10:32:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    oops...wrong grammar up there--look up ^ ---- I said "my captcha say" --- oops. Sorry, Ms. Andrea. I meant, "My captcha sayS "BTW".... boy, I sure would love to sit in your class. I really, really would. No joke.
  1. Date: 8/10/2013 10:25:00 AM
    As for giving special consideration to us ESL people, I think it's better that you don't. If anything, I do think that sometimes it's those of us who don't have English as our first language who are more cautious in trying to follow the rules of grammar & spelling better, afraid to make mistakes. Unless of course, we are not aware of those mistakes, and in that case, I can only speak for myself though. I won't be offended by the corrections, and would even be glad for it. And if your rules especially say you will be strict with spelling and grammar, then I would understand why I wouldn't place, especially if you pointed out my mistakes to me. Although a word of caution: some may not take the critiques as welcomely (I know umm is that a word?) as others might.

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    p.iNk Avatar binibining p.iNk Date: 8/10/2013 11:44:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    And as for me receiving critiques, I admit I can be a bit sensitive with it (haha, especially since I sometimes have this mindset in how I write) but I also admit it is intriguing and kind of refreshing to try to see how others think my poetry can improve. Something worth considering at times.
    p.iNk Avatar binibining p.iNk Date: 8/10/2013 11:41:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yes, giving critiques can be such a tricky thing-- I for one, save for some typos, rarely give them-- I don't really feel that I am knowledgeable or expert enough to give proper critiques.
    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/10/2013 12:11:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    glad u think this way, Nikko. I do not offer critiques to people any more. Learned my lesson long ago. People may say they want them, but most of them do not. Personally, I'm fine with critiques on spelling typos, things like that. But if a person critiques the way I have written a line that I think is just fine the way it is, that is really annoying to me. So I rarely critique on things other than pure grammar, spelling, etc.
  1. Date: 8/10/2013 10:20:00 AM
    HI Andrea! No, I don't think you're being a witch by being stricter with your rules in your contest--it is your contest after all and you can set your own guidelines for it. I admit that when I judged my contests before, I did lean towards being stricter with grammar and spelling and it made me feel bad. But then, I had mixed reactions when I tried to explain my judging to some-- some took it well, some, not so well.

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  1. Date: 8/10/2013 8:57:00 AM
    I agree with Chris totally, the level of mastery of a language is a matter of both schooling and pride. Anything in life that is not within our everyday training or excellence should be a challenge to us and no matter what we try, whether it is some form of art or a sport or hobby, it behoves us to seek out how to improve, and as the athletes say, achieve new PR's (personal records) as often as possible. Too often in our societies the bar is set too low now and we are dumbing down our children and the modern thinking is that we are helping them. NOT! Ah, but a man's (woman's) reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" Robert Browning

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    cornish Avatar craig cornish Date: 8/10/2013 6:52:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    It is scary isn't it!
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 8/10/2013 3:36:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    And I completely agree with your angle, Craig. Wait! Am I agreeing with you on something AGAIN!!?? Wot's going on? Are pigs flying? Just kidding around, man. Sort of....(Ha!).
  1. Date: 8/10/2013 8:19:00 AM
    Hope everyone will read what chris has said here. I love this!

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  1. Date: 8/9/2013 11:36:00 PM
    Hullo, Andrea. You asked a question below about leeway with concerns to ESL(or English as a third, fourth language even), and I would enjoy adding some of my input. I still make mistakes here and there with my writing. English is technically not my first language. Many Soupers don't even know this about me. Be honest -- my English grammar is decent enough, right? When I learn a new language, I want to learn it proficiently, and have a vocabulary in it that is above the norm. If I am given leeway while learning a new language, this doesn't help me; it goes against my learning curve. If I were to enter poems into contests(written in a language that I am learning), I wouldn't mind if these poems weren't placed because of grammar issues. I would figure out wot the problems were in the poems, correct the problems, and hopefully learn not to make those mistakes again. I have friends who also have English as their 2nd/3rd/4th language, and their English grammar is impeccable. In fact, their grammar is better than most North Americans who only know one language: English. I think you might have pondered this phenomenon, yourself. Some of the worst grammar issues that I come across on the Soup, are not made by people with ESL. So from my standpoint, there shouldn't be any leeway(and this goes for any language situation other than English). Oh, and using "your" instead of "you're", is becoming one of the most prevalent, wide-spread errors in poetry(and any writing, whether merely comments) .... it is my pet peeve to read. That and mixing-up "there" with "their".

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    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 8/10/2013 3:32:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    To be fair, since having learned English, I have practiced it for a huge chunk of my life. This is not the same situation as someone only beginning to learn English. But the point I was making stands for any languages that I took on after learning English .... and also for learning English. Had I leaned on my crutches so to speak, and been given leeway, my grammar/spelling would be far worse than it already is lol.
    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/10/2013 8:18:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    thanks SO MUCH for this. It is what I have been thinking all along and I am glad I did not give special leeway now. I actually believed English to be YOUR native language. Wow!!!
  1. Date: 8/9/2013 1:01:00 PM
    I agree 100%--we're adults here and with spell check and friends to help, there is no reason not to be grammatically correct. There are too many sources at anyone's disposal to avoid using them. I frequently search out the proper use of words if I doubt their proper tense or other idiosyncracies which makes this language so challenging. In saying this I have a great deal of respect for those that can even come close to fluency in more than one language.

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  1. Date: 8/9/2013 10:38:00 AM
    Someone down here said a remark that made me curious about what you guys would think: How part of the problem with grammar mistakes is for English not being a native language for so many people here. I had actually considered giving special leeway for non native English speakers and letting them write their native language on the bottom of their contest entries for me, but I thought it might seem condescending because there are also some non native English speakers here whose poetry is exceptional. Would that have been unwise of me to give special consideration for the language barrier? Does anyone have thoughts on that?

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  1. Date: 8/9/2013 10:27:00 AM
    There are so many other things, Joseph and Heather. I know the meaning behind the poem is the most important thing and generally I don't let little things bother me, but in contests with strict rules, I think people should put forth their best effort (as if they are showing something they would like to see published)

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  1. Date: 8/9/2013 10:25:00 AM
    I have been having the same thoughts myself. I think texting and whatnot is destroying the English language too. I think part of it is because there are many foreign folks on the soup; but that does not excuse original language folks.

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    V  Avatar Freddie V Date: 8/9/2013 11:46:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Now that hurts!
    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/9/2013 10:31:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    It's not just about foreign folks, Isaiah. Some English speakers maybe did not do well in grammar class but they have amazing thoughts and ideas for poetry, and it's a shame when they have no idea how to edit their work. If they know they are weak in a certain area, they should have a friend edit for them. Better yet, just study up on rules that are a problem for them. Anyway, it's all in priorities. Poetry doesn't have to be all about following strict grammar rules, but it places a person higher in most of my contests!
  1. Date: 8/9/2013 10:05:00 AM
    I agree with Heather about "your" and "you are" Maybe a blog on that would be in order..

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  1. Date: 8/9/2013 9:24:00 AM
    I hear you, lady! My friends laugh at me because I always text in complete sentences! I see the English language butchered on a daily basis and it breaks my little "English Grad" heart... Haha. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to grammar is when people mix up "your" and "you're." Drives me nuts. The tense thing bugs me too.

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    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/9/2013 10:33:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    well, i am a moron who can't text at all, so that is a skill I have not even tried to learn and I think one day it will be to my detriment!
  1. Date: 8/9/2013 8:45:00 AM
    Good morning Andrea, wait one more time... Good Morning!!!! haha,,, nothing else... love Linda

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    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/9/2013 10:33:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    thanks for your greeting and hello to YOU!!
  1. Date: 8/9/2013 7:45:00 AM
    Love the idea and I'll check your contest (it's time to write a new poem). I still have to answer your mail!! LOL! Have a great day!

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    Dietrich Avatar Andrea Dietrich Date: 8/9/2013 10:34:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    PLEASE ENTER. I was thinking maybe you had written the Picasso poem in my last contest. I know you can do superb free verse and I really was wondering whose poem it could be!

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3/22/2014In Clover GreenRondeauromance,
3/21/2014Leaving My HeartEthereefarewell,pets,
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AN EVER-CHANGING UNIVERSENarrativemysterylight,light,
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My Partner, my LifeFree versehusband,loveme,
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