Do you feel the pull to reflect upon the world with pen and paper? Then these tips on writing poems may prove useful. For some, poetry flows out of them like their breath upon the air. For others, it’s a little harder to find the flow.
One of the best tips on writing poems is not to get caught up in style. Allow your sentiments to make it from your mind to the paper. Only then should you consider form and style. With that type of freedom, anything’s possible. Let’s explore some more tips to help you hone your craft.
There are a few things to consider before you start writing. The following tips on writing poems will help you light the fuse:
Know your purpose: Why are you writing a poem and what do you want it to say?
Pick a subject: You do not have to pick a stereotypical topic such as nature, animals, love, or something dark, like death or fear. Poems can be written about any topic under the sun.
Avoid clichés: Clichés are sayings that have been overused, like “busy as a bee,” or “blind as a bat.”
Use imagery: Use concrete words that appeal to the senses. Abstract words will not offer the reader a firm picture of what you’re trying to say.
Use similes and metaphors: Similes compare two things and usually use the word “like” or “as.” Metaphors do the same, but without using “like” or “as.” Things being compared in a metaphor have at least one thing in common but are different in many other ways.
Remember that poems aren’t required to have rhymes or meter. In fact, if a poem is too much like a nursery rhyme, it can distract from the poem’s purpose.
One of the best things you can do is put your poem away for a day or two. Then, come back to it and see if you can make any improvements with a fresh pair of eyes. You may even want to get someone else to read and critique it.
Now that you have a few tips on writing poems, let’s get those creative juices flowing. Poets see the world in a different way. They observe mundane details, like one bright blade of grass, that the rest of the world tramples over. See if you can start looking at the world around you differently and try to gain a new perspective.
Poets and writers often imagine what other people see. If a poet saw an apple, he may wonder why it is there, who put it there, what the apple is thinking, or what it will become, like applesauce or pie.
Take a walk and try to experience every physical sense: touch, smell, sound, taste, and vision. Try to watch people and animals, and imagine their feelings and perspectives. Get silly and make up crazy stories. All you have to do is loosen up, have fun, and start writing.
So you have an idea for a topic, you’re ready to examine it in an imaginative way, now you need to consider a style. Poems can be categorized in many different ways. However, the three main types of poems are narrative, dramatic, or lyric.
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted - nevermore.
Dramatic: Dramatic poetry is written in verse and is supposed to be recited. The opening of Christopher Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine the Great” is a great example of dramatic poetry:
From jigging veins of riming mother wits
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay
We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,
Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine
Threatening the world with high astounding terms
And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.
Lyric: This poetry is very emotional and musical, focusing on attitudes, feelings, and the poet’s state of mind. Examples include odes and sonnets, like the famous “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare. Here is an excerpt:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
The different shapes that poetry can to take on are almost endless. It often bends the rules of conventional grammar and allows the author to create an entire world with only their words. Indeed, your words can invigorate people’s minds in ways they never even imagined.
Forget booking an expensive flight to Paris, just read a talented writer’s prose about it. And, when you have a moment, take a look at these Examples of Imagery Poems. They’re perfect examples of how writing can appeal to the senses.
We hope these tips on writing poetry will spur a lifelong love for the craft.