Learning how to write a poem doesn’t have to be this vast trek up mount inspiration and enlightenment as it may seem to be. Although, it does take some inward-looking and being open to vulnerability.
Wanting to know how to write a poem is the first gorgeous stone placed in what will grow to be your pathway to your writing voice. Each stone is another element of your writing identity learned, and your writing voice is coming to light. What better place to start than poetry!
Think of this article as a quaint writing retreat oasis; we’ll take you step by step on how to write a poem, how to explore different types of poetry, and even poetry prompts and poetry topics.
Whether you’re getting in the spirit of National Poetry Month or you simply want to awaken the poet, we’re glad you came across this article.
Now, let’s learn how to write a poem!
How to Write a Poem
To learn how to write a poem, we first need to step back from the notebook. The steps we’ll lay out on how to write a poem are from personal experience but should translate to you and your writing experience wonderfully. We encourage you to tweak any steps so that they are more fitting to you and your situation.
By the time you finish this metaphorical writer’s retreat, you’ll be wanting to write a poem for everything, from writing romantic poems for your partner to Poem in Your Pocket Day! Whelp, let’s get to learning how to write a poem time!
- What are you feeling: This may sound a little hooky, but emotions play a heavy role in poems! Determining how you feel or how you want your poem to feel will influence the topics/themes you choose for your poem, potentially the style, and even the words you choose.
- Message/Theme/Topic: These three elements go hand in hand. What would you like your poem’s theme to be, or in other words, what kind of message do you want to be conveyed when the poem is finished? Establishing this before you begin writing your poem will help pave the way to finding the correct words and give your poem a solid foundation.
- Type of poem: Before you put pen to paper, it’s also essential to choose what kind of poem yours is going to be. In the section below, we’ll explore each type of poem, don’t worry! Making this decision is crucial to how the writing process will go. For example, the writing process looks a bit different if you choose a rhyming poem or a free verse poem style.
- Keywords: We’re almost to the fun part! To help inspire yourself along the way, we suggest writing down a few keywords you can gaze at if you become stuck on a line. These words can be the feelings you want to evoke (Ex: Jubilation, Realization, Devastation) or particular “scenes” you want to express within your poem (Ex: Leaves falling off trees, a lonely swing set, the scent of homemade chocolate chip cookies). Reminder- The words you choose will paint a picture in the mind of the person reading the poem; your words matter and make a difference!
- Write for yourself: Time to put the write in how to write a poem! But why does it feel intimidating? If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be this- the secret to writing is writing for yourself first. While you write, don’t think of the potential reader; think of what you want to write and the image you want to paint in your mind while you read your work back. When we read poetry or novels that mean a lot to us, more often than not, it comes from an author who’s vulnerable and writes for themselves. If you try to write for an audience, your writing will not feel authentic and relatable. To understand the mechanics of writing for different types of poetry, please see the section below.
- How to start writing your poem: When you ask someone with experience in writing how to write a poem, it may be easy for them to say, “You just have to start!” There is some truth in that, but the piece that’s missing is having the key elements above in mind and asking yourself, “What do I want to see/feel in my mind when I begin this poem?”
6. Title your poem: Not every poem has to have a title, but creating a title is pretty fun! It’s one of our favorite parts of how to write a poem. Poetry titles can be inspired by words in the poem, such as the last words of the poem. Or, it can be titled as a thought or off-page moment that ties in with your poem. Have fun with your title; it’s the first thing you and anyone else will see!
Types of Poetry
We’ve heard of poems that rhyme and perhaps seen interesting videos of free verse poetry in Slam Poetry competitions, but what are the different types of poetry? This is an important topic to cover before you dive into the writing portion of how to write a poem. From a credible source and the help of MasterClass, we’ve got our answers!
Each poetry style is provided by MasterClass, and the definitions are brought to you by trusty Dictionary.com; let’s learn the 15 types of poetry that are waiting to be explored by you.
- Rhymed Poetry: poetry that has a rhyming scheme in place. (Ex: the last words of 2 sentences rhyme, and the next two line’s last words rhyme with one another, and so on.)
- Haiku: a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.
- Limerick: a kind of humorous verse of five lines, in which the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines, which are shorter, form a rhymed couplet.
- Sonnet: a poem, properly expressive of a single, complete thought, idea, or sentiment, of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to one of certain definite schemes, being in the strict or Italian form divided into a major group of 8 lines (the octave) followed by a minor group of 6 lines (the sestet), and in a common English form into 3 quatrains followed by a couplet.
- Epics: noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style.
- Free Verse: verse that does not follow a fixed metrical pattern.
- Ode: a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.
- Ballad: a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.
- Narrative Poetry: A poem that narratively tells a story.
- Soliloquy: an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present (often used as a device in drama to disclose a character’s innermost thoughts)
- Pastoral Poetry: poetry that focuses on themes of nature and the natural world.
- Blank Verse: unrhymed verse, especially the unrhymed iambic pentameter most frequently used in English dramatic, epic, and reflective verse.
- Elegies: a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.
- Lyric Poetry: poetry that embraces and evokes emotions and feelings.
- Villanelle: a short poem of fixed form, written in tercets, usually five in number, followed by a final quatrain, all being based on two rhymes.
If you prefer to learn visually, we’ve found an informative video on YouTube that can assist you in understanding the different types of poetry. This can also help you get started on ideas and inspiration for how to write a poem!
We’ve covered some basic steps on how to write a poem and different types of poetry, but what in the world should you write about?
You may already have some ideas bouncing around in your head, and if so, that’s fantastic! If you’re needing some help kickstarting your poetry inspiration, let’s give poetry prompts a whirl while you’re getting your handle on how to write a poem.
Poetry prompts can be a wonderful tool if you want to give yourself a little writing challenge, get out of writer’s block, or just get started learning how to write poetry!
We’ve come up with some excellent poetry prompts down below that you’re free to use! A poetry prompt is an idea, a specific topic, a question to ask yourself and then write about, or a beginning sentence that you can use to fuel your imagination.
- What would a journey through a magical forest look like? What’s waiting for you in the shadows and whispering trees?
- Think of a moment that helped define who you are today.
- Recall a game of hide n seek you played as a child; where did you squeeze yourself? What feelings did you have? What would be the best hiding spot ever?
- Describe the best feelings in the world (ex: a warm hug from your loved one, the smell of freshly roasted vegetables, or the flipping feeling in your stomach during the drop of a rollercoaster).
- What if inside everyone there was a beautiful mural painted inside; what would your mural look like? Or the person sitting next to you on the subway or in class?
- If you could go up to a tree, place your hand on it, and hear its thoughts, what would your conversation sound like?
- You’re given a day to go back in time and spend it with a younger version of yourself; what would you do and say to your younger self? Would you have some realizations? Or would they help you more than you helped them?
- Imagine you’ve moved into a house that’s new to you but old to the world; what if you find a hidden space? How many different lives have lived in this single house?
- What would you say to someone who’s hurt you, and how have you healed?
- Describe a memory that you haven’t experienced, but wish you had.
There are plenty of poetry topics to pick and choose from when you’re learning how to write a poem; that’s the beauty of poetry! It’s self-expression, that can come in just about any form you can think of. Here’s a list of poetry topics to help get you started in your how to write a poem journey:
- True love
- Ghost stories
- Life lessons
- Hard truths
- Coming of age
Do you feel the pulse of poet inspiration flowing through and tapping through your fingertips? It’s time to start now that you know how to write a poem! And if you need some more poetry inspiration, we’ve got your back.
Want to get in the poet’s festive mood? Check out these activities that embrace poetry!
We couldn’t be more thrilled that you learned how to write a poem today; keep on skipping down your poetry lane!