1. jo spumoni

    jo spumoni Active Member

    Jun 23, 2010
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    La Jolla, CA (and Mission Viejo, CA, during the su

    How do I write a good--or even just a decent--poem?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jo spumoni, May 18, 2012.

    For most of my life, I've hated writing poetry. It makes me feel stupid and self-conscious because unlike with prose, I don't know what's really good and what's absolutely terrible. However, I started writing poetry just for myself one day, and in only a little more than a month, I've written more than 20 poems. Most of them are probably bad, given that I've mostly written prose before now and a lot of the poems are just things I scribble in between studying or while waiting for the metro (I have a poem called "The Commuter's Existentialism" :p). But still, it's hard to ignore that poetry, lousy as it probably is, is suddenly a big part of my creative writing.

    So I guess what I'm asking is, how do I actually learn to write poetry? Blind experimentation is fun and everything, but it still makes me uncomfortable because I really don't know if I'm making progress or not. Often, I'll think what I have is good and then I'll read the work of a true poet, a real artist, and I'll just feel a sense of complete despair--I think I'll never be that good because none of the things the poet does with his/her work would ever have even occurred to me.
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Reading good poetry is a good start. If you have a good college, or even high school, literature anthology, you'll probably find some analysis of poetry and its structure. These can help get you into your "poetry head."

    Critique some poetry here too. Find a poem that appeals to you, but don't read the other critiques. See what you can come up with for ways to improve it. Then, and only then, look at the other critiques to compare with your thoughts on it.

    Find something in the real world that moves you emotionally. Try to express your reaction to it. Look for a metaphor or imagery that expands upon those reactions. Use a structured poetry form for your first efforts - the structure helps.

    Poetry isn't for everyone. It's not really my forte, but since coming here, I have found some inspiration in crafting verse, It will never be my principal choice for writing, but I'm far more open to both reading and writing it, thanks to having put in the effort.
  3. indy5live

    indy5live Active Member

    May 15, 2012
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    Forget trying to fit your words into a poetic style or mold. The truth is, poetry will always be more of a hobby and a past-time than it will ever been a career for most people. Just like songwriting, it's almost impossible to get your work picked up my a major publishing/producing company unless you know someone in the industry or television every decides to make a competition show about aspiring writers. So write for yourself and for your enjoyment.

    (2008 American Dream - By Me, Craig Indy)

    I'm living the current American Dream
    Spending money I don't have just like my Country
    Can't get approved for a mortgage but what's the need
    There is always the privilege of living at my parent's for free
    Perhaps I can barrow their wall to hang my college degree
    It's a shame I can't stay on their insurance past the mid-twenties
    Because I'm sure as hell not going to find a job in this economy
    Yeah, I'm living the current American Dream
  4. thecoopertempleclause

    thecoopertempleclause New Member

    Apr 13, 2012
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    Cornwall, UK
    I was amazed when I started studying poetry in my degree as to the depth of technical complexity in poetry. There's a whole array of specialist tools available for you to use; tools which will heighten the emotional power and interpretation of your words. Whereas in prose, the meaning is more in the words, in poetry, the words are like the lyrics to a song, and the technical attributes are the band which give life to the words. So to write a good poem, you need to familiarise yourself with techniques such as perspective, alliteration, assonance, metre, enjambment, rhyme schemes, structure, feet, word choice, similes, metaphor, register, tone and stanza/line construction.

    When you've mastered these, you'll be able to bring your poems to life and shape the moods, the rhythm and the meaning conveyed to the reader. You can be the composer, the orchestra and the conductor at the same time.
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    Read some books on poetry theory. One book I recommend is Understanding Poetry by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Warren. Though it's an old text, it still does a great job of explaining several different poetry concepts.
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, reading and studying good poetry is where one must begin... i'm a full time 'serious' poet and i mentor many aspiring ones, so if you want some feedback on the quality of your output, or help improving same, you can drop me a line anytime... you can see my work on my website... you'll also see samples of my best-so-far mentee in 'a new star on the horizon' part of the 'writings' section...

    love and hugs, maia

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