Tips On Poetry

– I do not consider myself a poet of any sort, however I have taken quite a few classes on the subject and I have some wisdom to share that I have acquired along the way. If you are a poet and you wish to add on for others, please feel free to leave your tips and advice in the comments below. 

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Write In A Specific Form

A lot of writing instructors will tell you to start small, with something like a haiku, and to some extent that’s an important first step, but a lot of poets get really comfortable in one form or too set in the mindset of free-verse and it’s equally important to start out ambitiously. If there’s a poem structure you find really impactful and interesting, you don’t need to spend a million years working your way up to it. Experiment and learn about it, but also be aware that there’s a learning curve to most forms of poetry. Most of your more experimental poetry just won’t do the trick for you, and that’s okay.

Embrace Vocabulary

Poetry is storytelling on a very small scale, so you can’t use paragraphs and deeply descriptive spirals to convey what you need to say. Choose your words wisely and be very specific. This is one of the exceptions to the “don’t overdo it with the thesaurus” rule because you are on a word count constraint and choosing specific and careful vocabulary is key. Every single word counts, and every single word should add to the poem. 

Use More Than Just Words

The way you format and organize a poem has power over the message. I’m not simply alluding to how some poems can be in the shape of a snowman, but I’m referring to the way the order of your words dictate the message and how the way you break the poem into pieces counts. This is one of those details that you don’t think about until you’re deeply analyzing your poem and you realize you missed it. 

Challenge Yourself With Unusual Subject Matter

Poetry is well-loved because it’s honest and uncensored and unapologetic about it. Poetry covers some of the most taboo, controversial, and deeply-sewn emotions and stories that the human mind and soul can conjure. Do not shy away from discussing hard things in poetry because you still want your words to sound beautiful and, well, poetic. Poetry is a rare form of commentary that doesn’t reveal its true meaning until you search for it between the lines. Your poem can sound gorgeous to the casual reader and break the heart of the deeply critical reader at the same time.

Leave Room For Interpretation

The best part of poetry is that most poems can be interpreted a million different ways. If your reader interprets it differently than you, that means you’ve done your work well, not that you’ve failed to convey the message. You may very well have a meaning and a message in mind, but it’s also the role of poetry to be what your reader needs, and sometimes the reader will find what they need in your poem and it won’t be what you originally intended. That’s okay, and that’s something you have to learn to love, rather than fight. Poetry is for the reader, at the end of the day.


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