“Undoubtedly, there is no particle of life that doesn’t bear poetry within it.” –Gustave Flaubert.
But how does one write a poem? It still remains a challenging task for poets to find a purely abstract “particle of life” and then transform into a more succinct chain of evocative expressions either in words or images or combination of both. And so, there comes an ever persisting question; How Do You Write a Good Poetry? What are the aspects of poems you need to consider in writing good poetry? How do you develop and flesh out these aspects before you begin the actual process of putting those words on a paper?
If your purpose of writing a poem is to capture the feelings that you experienced inside of you, then these tips may not be for you. If it’s just to put whatever you feel inside you into a paper, then you only will be able to determine the feelings you want to express. So, you’ll evaluate the success of your poem alone.
If, on the other hand, your main goal is to communicate with readers and audiences, thus, drawing on the established conventions of a literary genre in order to generate an emotional response in your reader. Hence, writing what you feel that is right for you alone isn’t enough. In this piece, we’ll be revealing the exciting ways to write or go about writing a good poem that’ll capture the attention of your readers:
Know Your Goal Before You Write A Poem
If you don’t know where you are going from the start, it’ll be difficult for you to determine how to get there. Before the commencement of any project, you need to determine what you’ll accomplish at the end, and writing a poem is never an exception.
Before you write a poem, you should ask yourself questions such as… Do you want your poem to be centered on personal experiences? Are you protesting a social injustice? Do you want to describe the beauty of nature through your lyrics? Or you want to play with language in a certain way? Once you are successful at establishing the goals of your poem, you’ll be able to tailor your writing towards serving the primary purpose.
Have An Overarching Concept
When you write a poem, you need to ruminate on the central concept or idea that specifically encompasses the entirety of the poem. These ideas will serve as the framework that’ll guide you in choosing the right words and phrases and, thus, assemble them into the most fitting structure. This is particularly essential if you’re looking up to writing poems that suite or aligns with your overarching concepts. Ultimately, this will become a pillar that will create a link and connection between all your poems, thus building a cohesive collection of great works.
When writing a poem, you can begin from a broader perspective. For instance, “freedom”, “unity”, “identity”, “love”, and then make attempts to narrow down your thoughts to more specific ideas such as “familial love”, “self-image” or “escapism”. This may require that you pursue concepts that are not only personal but also universal concepts. With this, your poems will not only be relevant, but also relatable to the prospective readers.
Carve Out Smaller Themes From Your Main Concept
If you are able to pick some of the works of the celebrated poets like Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Frost, Sylvia Path, Gwen Harwood, and so forth, you would observe that their works contain several recurring themes. While some are more concealed than others, some run alongside one another.
Let’s take a brief look at “The Road Not Taken,” written by Robert Frost. While the attempt of Frost to examine the turmoil of making choices in life is considered the most prominent and conspicuous concept, there are also indications that he may be more subtly “irrational” like our revered “life-shaping choices.” As discussed in the works of Frank Lentricchia, suggesting that there isn’t anything as “choices.” He argued that every road we take while on our life journey seemed like “the road not taken.”
Furthermore, when you write a poem, one can explore or implement with juxtaposition. For instance, considering the possibility of combining or linking interplays with opposing themes such as rich and poor, youth and adulthood, life and death, and so forth. A typical example can be seen in the works of Harwood titled “At Mornington.”
“We have only one day, only one
But more than enough to refresh us.”
In this poem, Harwood sought to alert the readers that the imminence of death is real, and it’s only going to be “one day, only one.” She subsequently utilized the disjunction “but” to convey a message that rejuvenating the nature of memories refreshes the persona and also paradoxically brings about life to the dying. With this writing, Harwood successfully juxtaposed the theme of life with the theme of death. And thus, she was able to introduce the third theme, which is “rebirth.”
However, we can conclude that exploring numerous themes provides you with the opportunity to successfully create nuances within your poem and thus build a greater depth into your writings.
Consider Your Audience And Purpose
When writing a poem, there are numerous questions you need to ask yourself. Who are your target audiences? Are you writing on behalf of yourself or someone else? Is it for a friend? A family member? Do you intend to communicate with aspiring poets in the world? Are you writing for multiple audiences? Why are you writing the poem? Is it to inspire, or to simply transform your thoughts to words? Are you trying to create awareness of social-related issues? Or maybe you just felt like bringing a smile to the face of strangers? Whatever your reasons might be, the essential things is to have one. This is because your purpose of writing a poem is the only impetus that propels you forward.
Choose Your Form
Essentially, a form in poetry is a medium through which you communicate your concept, ideas, and themes to your prospective readers. There are numerous kinds of poetry. Some of these include haikus, sonnets, sestinas, and so forth. There are also less rigid styles such as concrete, free verse, found poetry, and so forth.
In history, the most popular form used in the contemporary world is free-verse poetry. This poetry doesn’t involve any particular set of established rules. As described by Ezra Pound in his famous poetry “Imagist Manifesto, Rhythm means to compose in sequence of a musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.” This is also applicable when writing free-verse poetry. In this form of poetry, you are at-will creating your own structure or rule. According to Derek Attridge, an English literature academic,
“In Free verse poetry, each line on the page has its own function and integrity. This makes it an essential consequence for the movement and hence, the meaning of the words.”
Another interesting form of poetry that’s also worth mentioning is the found poetry. This is perfect, especially for those who enjoy the habits of collecting words from other texts. In this form of poetry, you’ll physically “find” your choice of words from non-poetic contexts such as newspapers, letters, magazines, and so forth. Then, you’ll arrange them properly into a collage to bring real meanings and transcend into an emotion.
Since there is a wide range of forms of poetry, it would be a perfect idea if you could experiment widely and frequently. As suggested by William Victor,
“Try breaking the lines in different ways and compare the effects. …Change or switch the order of things. …reorganise things to move different words to the end of the lines. With this, you can grab your reader’s attention.”
Line And Stanzas
Stanzas are referred to as a group of lines within a poem, and the gaps that exist between one stanza and another is regarded as stanza breaks. Stanzas that contains two lines are known as couplets, three-line stanzas are tercets, and four-line stanzas are known as quatrains.
While all your sentences could be potentially fitted neatly into each stanza, you could also allow some of those sentences to flow across each stanza breaks. With this, you’ll be creating tensions and movements with your writing. This technique is usually referred to as enjambment. Such technique was utilized in one of the poems written by Ted Hughes titled “The Thought Fox”:
“Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come”
“Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business.”
With the use of enjambment, Ted Hughes was able to leave the words “bold to come” in the form of a suspension, and this translates to the fact that “the fox paused at the outer edges of some trees.” Thus, this stanza breaks becomes glaring itself that “which the fox, after hesitating warily, suddenly shoots across.”
Deciding the possible number of stanzas and lines, you will use when writing your poetry is a highly essential step to take in your planning process. Ultimately, this will help you have a headway on the length of your poem. With this, you’ll have an idea of whether you’ll be able to capture both the concepts and themes in short stanzas, or you’ll need to stretch out your poem to make it comparatively longer.
Rhyme With Extreme Caution
Rhyme and meter could be dangerous if misused. Do you remember the nursery rhymes sing-song? If you have selected a rhyme scheme that makes your poem sound like the nursery rhyme sing-song, there is no doubt that readers will be detracted from the quality of your poem. Therefore, it is recommended that you stick to the free-verse type of poetry because of the challenges associated with dealing with the intricacies of rhyme and meter.
Revise, Revise And Revise Your Poem
The first draft of your poem that seems completed is the beginning alone. Usually, poets go as long as several drafts before finally considering the work done. In order to revise your poem, you should re-read and re-read and re-read to discover if there is anything that seems confusing.
Did you observe any word that seems hard to follow? Did you find any sentence that needs improvements? While writing a poem, you may leave out crucial details because you are familiar with the subject matter. This is why you need to re-read your poem at several intervals in order to see it from the perspective of outsiders.
Apart from that, you can also show others your poem and seek for their criticism. Of course, you would receive comments like “That’s a nice poem,” but you shouldn’t be contented yet. There isn’t anything to learn from that kind of response. Instead, look for people that are intelligent enough to tell you specific areas that need improvement in your poems.
There you have it – pointers on how to write a poem. However, there are quite a number of things you need to consider and brainstorm before you begin the actual process of writing poetry. So, once you successfully cover those things, you’ll move the next step, which is the elements to consider when you start composing your poems. If you need advice on other types of writing, just look around here!