how to write a poem

Beth says poetry is hard to teach… and it really is.  Especially freeform poetry.  Because it’s all about you, the writer, the way you want to portray something.

But I’ve been asked for tips and stuff before, so I figured I’d share what I know and practice.

  1. use metaphors and similes.  These are some of the greatest tools at a poet’s fingertips.
  2. dig deep about how you feel about the subject — even if it’s a potato or an umbrella — what meaning does it have to you?
  3. personify the object, person, nature, personify everything!  Even if you don’t use the things you come up with in your actual poem — it gives you greater insight to what this thing is that you’re writing about.
  4. channel your inner synesthete!  what does the wind’s chill look like?  what color is the sound of your grandma’s laughter?  how does the smell of baking cookies feel against your skin?
  5. don’t be afraid to be messy!  This isn’t something wannabe poets think about much, but it’s not like I sit down to write and out comes this finished poem.  No.  I make lists, I scratch things out, I draw arrows to where I want things moved, I write drafts. I use pen and shamelessly fill an entire page in my composition notebook with thoughts for one four-liner.

These are definitely not rules.  Poetry is really dependent on the artist.  Your poetry won’t look like mine, or Shel Silverstein’s, or Charles Bukowski’s, or T. S. Eliot’s, or anyone else’s.  It is yours.

Go try some poetry!

(here’s another article on synesthesia)


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