Everyone can write a poem – but it takes craft and practice to make a good one. If you’ve never written a poem, or want to revisit the form after dabbling in it in school, there are a few tips worth trying to help you begin (again) on a solid foundation. Here they are…
Expand your references and read a lot of poetry. This will help you understand the craft better and figure out the styles and structures you like (or dislike). Check out the Poetry Foundation’s website for some of the world’s best poems.
The only way you can improve is by practicing and developing your portfolio. If possible, make a habit out of writing every day. Experiment by following new forms or sticking to reliable favourites. You can also take notes throughout the day of inspirations and observations on a journal.
Before you start a poem, think about what you want to say. What message, theme or idea do you want to get across? Why do you want to write about it? With clear intentions, your poem will have a direction for the readers/audiences to navigate.
Count on All Senses
Rather than simply telling a message as is, use imagery and action. Besides sight, leverage other senses (smell, touch, taste, hearing) to create a more vivid reading experience.
Get into the Rhythm
In poetry, the rhythm and pacing are as important as the words. It doesn’t necessarily have to rhyme, but every good poetry has an identifiable flow and/or musicality. To enhance the poem’s rhythm, try using active sentences (“I hold the pillow” rather than “the pillow is held by me”) or breaking the passage in different ways.
It’s time to take your poetry out to the world. Join a poetry community, watch readings, participate in workshops, and get some feedback on your work from your peers. Afterwards, you can go back to writing with redrafts and revisions.