How To Write A Poem

Choosing the best words hits the right chord

Poetry is all about emotions!

Let us first understand what Poetry really is. Most people go by the common conception about it that anything that rhymes & has some kind of inherent rhythm can be called a poem. But there is more to the matter than meets the eye, especially, in today's world where it has become possible to claim almost anything to be poetry. An easier quality to identify is that poems do not have paragraphs, they have stanzas. But that is a little more elementary than the depth of this blog. The truth is that poems seek to convey emotions using the musical notes they elicit & the visual representation of a cluster of words. The impact it seeks to have on the listeners is limited by various criteria it must abide by. It ought to make your smile, make you angry, elicit peace, bring gloom, remind you of your loves & those deep emotions that live within. A lot is asked of those few lines. Unlike prose which can afford a call to rationality, poems usually deal in the emotional. So how does one begin writing poetry? Here are a few tips that'll help you out:

1. Define your intended result:

Off course you think how to sell poetry & no doubt the best website to showcase poetry work is www.showflipper.com But you must write it first. So you must be very clear about the impact that you wish your poem to have. Is it supposed to make someone love-struck or is it designed to stir someone to action? Without this initial step it would be extremely hard for any poet to get the desired result. And avoid Clichés at all costs. While the topic for your poem is important, so is the delivery. You must ensure that there are no clichés in your work. Some examples are the use of proverbs & plots which have been used a thousand times before. Originality is a must. Another age old technique is the use of similes & metaphors. They are great tools for you to get your message across in a much more artistic manner.

2. Opinions count:

While you do not want to come across as obnoxious, but without an opinion all you are left with are ideas in a vacuum. You need that leavening agent called opinion a little bit to get your poem cooked. Caution to the wise. People like what they can touch & feel. Ideas in the abstract tend to be intangible. So while you want to raise ideas you must get them across using tangible descriptions. Something they can relate to as a matter of course. This will also influence on your decision of how to upload poetry online.

3. Start with the moment:

As we've already discussed, poems deal a lot with emotions. Wouldn't it be better to start with the moment that a particular emotion took root? Focus on one single moment that is central to the subject matter at hand. And rhymes are not the end all of poems. They can certainly ruin a poem if you strain them too hard. You might want to stick to free verse if you find yourself doing that.

4. Make notes:

Every interaction one has with people or even the things we over-hear can be inspirations for your poem. Some of the most famous poems were essentially notes from something the poet overheard at some point or another. Another time-tested tactic is to focus on an event or a person. How many poems have been devoted to describing the beauty of a heroine in a love story or the heroics of a protagonist in a legend or even the courageous conduct of a hero in a battle? You could also make it a conversation. You'll notice that a large number of poems are nothing but reactions to someone's conduct or even ideas. You could steal. Well, not really. But you could borrow from the great body of literature to get some inspiration & even give the originator of that theme a shout-out in your poem.

Here is a good read about beginning with poetry

Speak of what others will love to recite!

Select your subject wisely!

5. Choosing a Topic:

Once you have your game plan ready, you can then proceed to the next stage of writing a poem. Choosing the actual subject you'll base your poem on. While it is not a perfect science but here are a few tips that might speed up the process of getting to your subject: Like we mentioned earlier, everyday events can make good subjects for poems. So why not make a list of what happened to you today or perhaps the things you did? Another way could be to remind yourself of something interesting that once happened to you. Perhaps a dream you had recently or a childhood memory. It could even be a question you have often pondered about but never had a chance to really give some deep thought. Some exercises like what would you do if this was your last day on the earth are also not uninteresting. Even your favorite quote or proverb can help you out here. And off course it always helps to read poetry as long as it inspires you to create something original. Now let us get down to the actual business of creating a form for the poem. It might not seem like it, but every poem has some science embedded into it. The science of intertwining form function. It must also be compatible with the platform to sell poetry.

This will give a better idea on choosing a poetry subject

Keep the posture of your poetry effective!

Keep the poetry flow precise!

6. The Anatomy of a Poem:

Every line in a poem is a waypoint in the journey you wish readers to take. And almost instinctively, they pause at the end of each line. And the words at the end of the line might look more crucial to them than those in the middle. Using this 'logic' you could vary the rate at which your poem progresses. All of this will determine the over-all 'form' of the poem. Whether it looks text heavy or light? You have probably heard of the age-old adage that form follows function. But in poetry, it is a lot more complicated than that. You can & should choose the form of your poem. Once you have narrowed down the topic of your poem it is matter of testing out the 'look & feel' of the form of the poem. Whether it conveys the message you want it to convey with longer lines or shorter ones? Would changing the number of stanzas make a difference? And not to mention all of this must not deviate the function it is designed for i.e the meaning of the poem.

7. Composition of a poem:

Just like prose has a paragraph, poems have stanzas which help you arrange your ideas in a more legible manner. But all of this depends on your topic, your style & even the circumstances you write in. A poem about a tragedy might find a gentle pace & heavy form appealing. The same cannot be said for a poem about a love story from the middle ages. We mentioned earlier that rhymes ought to have a reason. And there are quite a few if you use them properly. A rhyme when done well will help you match all the components of your poem together into a pleasing whole. If you've heard the expression 'it sounds right' then you know the feeling. And it also helps people remember the poem. That's why you don't remember the square root of 'pie' from your 10th grade but you still remember that rhyme from kindergarten. Not to mention that they add to the 'form' of the poem. Also when you have limitations to the number & the sound of the words you can use, it becomes even more important to make sure you choose the right ones. Every word has an undercurrent which comes to the fore when it is put into the context you are writing about. And it can have a great impact on the tone of poem. Another factor is the syllabic structure of the word. It might give you the right meaning but not the right sound.

8. Poetic meter:

This aspect of poetry is perhaps the least understood & therefore often overlooked. But it is as important as any other. A poetic meter is a method of computing the rhythm of the lines in a poem. Knowledge of the meter of the poem is crucial to understanding the guidelines used by the poet. It is akin to the rules of grammar which bind prose. There are types of poems in which these guidelines can be 'transgressed' but it is important to know how these guidelines work in more traditional forms of poetry like ballads or sonnets. Just as words have stressed & unstressed syllables, in the same way the lines of a poem have these syllables. The unit used to measure these is called a 'foot'. There are several types of feet like iambic, trochaic, dactylic foot, etc. And the number of 'feet' in each line of the poem determines if the poem follows a 'monometer' or a 'dimeter' & so on. While this blog will not delve into the more academic aspect of these terms (because they are a matter of learning rather than discussion), nevertheless they are important to know.

More often than not, you will be dealing with something you have never experienced personally. Perhaps the death of a loved one. How can you describe it in words when it is not familiar to you? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Get yourself a cup of coffee (or tea for those of you in Blighty) & plop yourself down in your favorite place whether it is a restaurant or your favorite corner in the house. Simple observation can be a powerful tool. The everyday sounds of a busy street, the flutter of leaves in a garden, the waves in the ocean are to be experienced but they are intangibles which can inspire a poet. Remember that it takes some time & inspiration to write a poem.

  • Another important factor to be considered is that the themes & ideas in your poem need to be connected to actual human events & emotions on a specific level. Emotional appeals only work when they are not vague or ambiguous. Seldom are poems about love popular. Yes. You heard that right. Those are poems about two 'people' in love. In the same way, poets do not write about beauty. They write about a specific 'person' with beauty.

The many different shades of poetry

So many reasons to write a poem!

Different types of poems:

Before you actually pen down your poem one vital decision has to be made. What types of a poem will you write? Here we are discussing the conventional category your poem will be included in. And there are quite a few that you need to be at-least aware of. Let us start with 'Narrative poems'. In its simplest form it is a poem which is closed to fantasy books in that it has a definite plot, often some dialogue, a setting & a narrator. A traditional form of this type is 'the ballad'. It has a certain rhyme to it so that it can be sung to music. Usually the second line of a ballad rhymes with the fourth one. The quatrain & rhyming couplet are similar. The rhyming couplet has two lines that rhyme sequentially but the quatrain is more often a set of four lines which also rhyme. A good example of a rhyming couplet is Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'. Another form especially favored by Shakespeare was the Sonnet. It is made up of fourteen lines. Traditionally this meant that it had three quatrains & it ended with a couplet. One of the more interesting types is an 'acrostic poem'. Quite simply, if you read the first letter of each line in this type of poem, it spells out a meaningful word or words. Edgar Allan Poe used this technique in his poem 'Elizabeth'. A limerick has five lines in which the third & fourth line rhymes with each other & so do the rest correspondingly. They are usually used for comic effect. And there is even poetry which does not rhyme at all. It is called 'Free Verse'. It can be said that it follows no rules whether of rhyme scheme, syllabic forms or meter. But sometimes poets decide to keep the rhythmic flow of a fixed meter & consequently patterned syllables, without rhyming the lines of the poem. Such a poem is called a 'Blank verse'.

Make a career in Poetry, the ShowFlipper way!

Lastly, it is important to remember that you are dealing with one of the most ancient forms of literature. One that bridges those arenas of language between the lyrical & the logical. So do yourself a favor & after you have done your due diligence on the 'scientific' aspects of poetry & the made all the preparations we have outlined; do enjoy the process. For it will last you a lifetime. Here are some words of wisdom from one of the greats:

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” - Leonardo da Vinci “

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