Some well tried and tested poetry writing advice for beginners from Curiosity Corner Dublin
Writing poems might sound like something of a daunting task, but I can assure you, it is easier than you think and it is most rewarding. When I started out and I penned my very first poem (in Hungarian), I showed it to my brother and he told me this:
Every poet-to-be starts somewhere. It may not look like a poem right now, but it’s a skill, so you just need to practice.
My brother to 12 years old me
Poetry is a rather creative way in that it can help processing your troubles, observations, and gives a concise voice to just about anything that you can think up.
I like to think of poems as the most packed short stories there ever were.
I think it is a great start to writing as a whole because you really have to think about what words to use, how to place them and in which order you want to commit to each stanza (if you were to use any). Your punctuation can lead the reader, or you can go without any, break the rules of the grammar and make it up as you will.
I have one thing to note before you start:
ANYONE CAN WRITE POETRY, and you can do so in any form you choose. Trust me!
You need only to read up on some styles to start with and just practice, practice, practice. Book Riot has got you covered on the forms and their explanations.
Have I got your attention? Good. 😉
Now lets have a look at some ways in which you can get down to your poem-experiments:
1. Listen to music 🎶
If you’re anything like me, music of any kind will stir your emotions. It will make you happy, sad, will make you dance or will calm your nerves after a hard day.
So, the thing to do is what’s called active listening. It is a practice and a life-skill that will help not just your poems or writing in general, but your everyday life, whether you are still in school (have gone back to school? – hello there fellow mature student) or have a tedious meetings to attend at work.
How do I do it? I will put on music (lately I like ambiance music such as The Spirit of Fall or Wonderful Movie Soundtracks), any music will do. I try to find a quiet spot for this. As I sit and listen, it will evoke a certain feeling, will point out a sensation and all I have to do is to try and pin it down in a word or two or a phrase.
Once I pinned my instinctual thoughts down, all I have to do is sit with them and try to write a poem.
2. Use a writing prompt 🖋
Some people use prompts to write poetry, and it can be a good place to start for someone who is not sure where to get their inspiration from. Prompts can be many things, such as phrases, colours, specific subject matter, tarot cards. You can make up your own word cards as well or find some online.
Thinkwritten has a 101 prompts for you sink your teeth into, for those who like a bit of a challenge.
3. Write in other poet’s style 🤝
This is an important trick I have found to be very cool and have given me rather interesting poems as result. Figuring out how someone else writes will impact on your writing.
Just reading other poets will not make you the next poet. What will is if you learn from those who come before you. Look at their style, the subjects they write about, the feeling their work inspire in you. It isn’t cheating if you try your hand in a style you aren’t familiar with but another is.
Never recreate their work, but let yourself be influenced by it.
Check out the Poetry Foundation or Poets.org for some instant reading, and do use the poems as an extra prompt exercise. I know you’ll be the better poet for it! 🙃
4. React to something impactful 🆒
We live in uncertain times, but there are centuries worth of poets who have gone through similar. People like William Blake, who wrote about chimney-sweepers in 1789 to Margaret Atwood writing in 1939 of the passing of memories.
Any poet (and writer for that matter) have one thing in common: They wrote about what impacted them as people as well experiences of the past or the present.
Be it a forest fire, a social and political situation of your home country, past of present troubles, people working together in unison, whatever. If it impacts you, it will have an impact on others. It can be anything small, and only the sky is the limit.
Any poem is a piece of history that you get to write in your own unique perspective! Think of that! 😲
5. Write of what you see 👀
I often walk around alone in nature or just on ordinary streets, but you’d find me on benches when people pass me by.
Life around you in valuable if you observe it well. All you need is just to see a scene or two that grabs your attention. But for that, you have to give yourself the opportunity of observing the world around you.
So have pen and paper with you at all times (or your phone) and don’t forget to jot down some fun stuff.It doesn’t have to be a whole idea. Have a phrase, a feeling written down. You’ll thank yourself later.
Always be ready to observe and experience. On a bus, outside, on the dart, at an airport or in a park. Be ready.
Don’t forget… 💬
These tips, of course, are not only good for poetry but also for writing. Let your moods lead your words and with practice it will decide how many stanza and lines it requires. Don’t worry too much about the styles either, just pick the easiest looking to start with, and you will fly from there.
Most importantly, have fun, play with the words, write for yourself and one day, if you work up some courage, share your work on kind sites, such as All Poetry or Writer’s Cafe.org
It is a game you play to keep sane first and foremost 🤪
For a more professional point of view on poetry writing, you can also check out the Masterclass. Highly recommended!
Thank you for getting this far in this post and I hope to hear about your poems one day. 😊