How Do We Write Poetry

Basics of Poetry Writing

Writing poetry can be an enriching form of creative expression. It allows us to explore our thoughts and feelings, to delve into our imagination, and to gain insight into who we are as individuals. The act of writing it down also enables us to capture and cherish momentary revelations and gems. To successfully write poetry, there are many techniques and conventions to consider.

Finding a Subject

The beginning of writing a poem involves selecting a topic. This can be inspired by our own observations, experience, and reflections. Furthermore, there is a scope to draw upon current events, or real-life or historical characters and settings. Wilder flights of fancy are also welcome within the realm of poetry.

Exploring Verses and Rhymes

Once an initial idea for a poem is settled upon, the writer could consider suitable mediums for conveying it. Traditional forms such as the sonnet or haiku are always an option. Alternatively, contemporary writers often use a mix of freestyle verses and rhymes.
In free verse, the stability of uniform line lengths isn’t as authoritative. The rules of traditional forms, such as staying within a certain number of syllables, don’t matter in free verse either. That being said, the writer could experiment with distinct lines and punctuation styles to guide the reader’s comprehension.
Alternatively, if the poem calls for a structure where the last syllable of each line ends with the same sound, this can create pleasing cadences. To acquaint oneself with the various rhymes, the poet might use a rhyming dictionary.

Conducting Research

Often, revisions are necessary in order to convey the intended message. Some research into the topic may provide clarity, particularly if it involves a specialist topic that needs to be well understood. Additionally, discovering the work of influential poets may also lead to a powerful evocation.
Still, the challenge the poet must address is the originality of the work. As Joyce Poundstone, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, notes, “the most important task for the poet is to find her or his own unique way of expressing their thoughts and feelings through the craft of poetry”.

Drafting to Finishing

The poem must also embody a purposeful sentiment. Visualization techniques may aide in body-mapping the emotions. For example, the poet could draw out the shape of the emotion being conveyed, or write out how it feels in the body.
Once these steps are taken, it is time to craft the poem. Editing and exploring alternate word choices is essential in refining and tweaking it. This may involve turning to a thesaurus to add robustness to the words and lines.
Once the desired product is attained, the poet may keep it in a portfolio or share it with other people.

Using Imagery and Metaphors

Poetry can also be enhanced by powerful imagery and metaphors. When evoking a particular feeling or setting, the writer might think about how to convey it in a way that audiences can visualise and connect to.
For instance, when describing a feeling of desolation, the poet might zoom into the cracks on the wall of a crumbling room and the chilling wind coming through them. The description of the texture and the atmosphere may be further enhanced with contrasting ideas such as the creaking of the floor, and the lingering warmth of the adjacent fireplace. Metaphors are also effective in coaxing out deeper layers and emotions.

Exploring Genres and Styles

The various genres and styles of poetry further support the poet in expressing her creativity. For instance, love poetry, found in sonnets and elegies, often require higher levels of mastery due to their delicate balance between perfection and emotion.
Vivid imagery and colorful, abstract concepts prevail in most types of lyric and dramatic poetry. Meanwhile, the brief 17 syllables of a haiku are poignant with untold moments of history and a greater pace of everyday life.

Structure and Pace

The structure and pacing of a poem further lend to its overall complexity. A poem can either be written in regular or irregular beats, depending on the effect the poet wants to create. Also, knowing when to place pauses, use enjambment, or employ repetitions may further support in expressing the ideas.
Additionally, the poem may need to work around certain meter, even if it is of a free verse style. To arrive at the desired effect, the poet may need to tweak syntax and word choice at a consistent rate.

Exploring Rhythms and Sounds

The most important element in poetry is making sure that it is audible. Sounds and rhythms are the mainstays that make poetry a performance art. A traditional method of examining this aspect is using the musical properties of vowels and consonants.
This technique demands that when the writer chooses a word, he pays attention to the manner in which it flows off the tongue. It is also useful for forecasting when pauses might be meaningful if particular vowel and consonant sounds are equally distributed.


Writing poems is a craft and an art. The process calls for careful consideration of structure, and the creative evolution of idea to poem. Drawing on research, and exploring various genres, styles, and sounds will help breathe life into the poem and make it resonate with an audience. Alongside a profound idea, these building blocks are what make poetry powerful.

Minnie Walters is a passionate writer and lover of poetry. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the work of famous poets such as William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many more. She hopes you will also fall in love with poetry!

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