How To Write Poetry In An Essay

Understand the Different Kinds of Poetry

Writing poetry in an essay can be quite a challenge, especially to someone unfamiliar with the craft. Understanding the many different styles of poetry and how they work, however, is the first step to success. Variety is key when writing a poem, as each style has its own advantages and disadvantages. Poems can range from traditional sonnets, to free verse, to even modern abstract pieces.
The most traditional type of poetry is the sonnet. This consists of a four-line stanza and uses a rhyme scheme of abbaabba. Sonnets often follow a particular pattern of imagery and metaphors, so understanding that pattern is essential to writing an effective sonnet. Furthermore, meter and rhythm are key components of the sonnet, as it emphasizes the structure and form of the poem.
Free verse poems also have their own set of guidelines to follow. The main difference between sonnets and free verse is that sonnets utilize rhyme and meter, while free verse poetry is more open in its form. Though they lack the rhyme, much of free verse poetry still contains subtle forms of cadence, which can help guide the flow of written words. Relying more on imagery and broken line work, free verse is often the best choice for poems dealing with topics of great gravity and depth.
Contemporary poetry follows a fluid, improvised form and looks to break down traditional poetic form. Using concise word choices combined with more visual elements, like line breaks and counters, helps accomplish this goal. Innovative ideas, such as phrases or words written in all caps can also help express the emotional tones of the piece. But as with any type of style, understanding the usage of punctuation is of utmost importance.

Read and Analyze Poetry

Reading and analyzing poetry will not only help inform the creative process, but also give one insight into the context and history of the poem. Knowing the context of a poem allows one to better understand the author’s intent, the implications of certain words, and the overall tone of the piece. Analyzing the structure and rhyme scheme of the poem may also help identify recurring themes and motifs in the writing.
Furthermore, reading and analyzing the work of other poets can also be beneficial. For example, learning how other poets address different topics, such as nostalgia or loneliness, can provide great insight into how to approach similar topics. By understanding how poets choose to convey their ideas, one can better articulate their own.

Craft Essays with Poetry in Mind

When writing an essay that includes poetry, one must be mindful of the structure and organization of the piece as a whole. Unlike narrative essays, poetry essays should focus more on the analysis of the content. Identifying relevant themes, symbols, and motifs, as well as the implications of the poem are essential to a thorough analysis.
Ideally, all information included in the essay should directly relate to the poem, elaborating the content of the poem. Be open to the idea of reinterpreting and reimagining the poem in new and expansive ways. Comparing and contrasting the poem with other works can also provide insight into the overall power of the piece.

Integrate Poetic Techniques

Integrating poetic techniques like rhythm, imagery, and alliteration can also help enhance a poem essay. Poetic language not only provides a vivid aesthetic to the essay, it also creates a powerful emotional connection to the reader. When using poetic devices, be sure that they are incorporated in a logical and intentional way that ultimately serves the purpose of the essay.
Rhythm, in particular, is essential to a poem as it provides a musical quality that can carry the reader into and through the piece. Utilizing active verbs and expanded phrases and ideas can also help give shape and movement to the essay. Furthermore, being mindful of the implications of certain words and incorporating symbolism into the writing can effectively illustrate even the most abstract themes present in the poem.

Avoid Clichés

When writing a poem essay, especially when trying to utilize poetic language, there is a fine line between beautiful imagery and overbearing clichés. Clichés should be avoided in writing, as they are often formulaic and unoriginal. Furthermore, they can detract from the uniqueness and fluidity of the piece.
Readers are often overwhelmed by overly sentimental phrasing and mawkish turns of phrase. Instead of relying on trite language and phrases, strive for something more thoughtful and creative. Think about the implications and the words’ connotations and be warned that intricate, heartfelt phrasings cannot easily be replaced with romance-fuelled images. Be imaginative and let the momentousness of the poem inspire limitless allegory.

Understand Tone and Emotion

The tone of a poem is a reflection of the feelings and emotions of the poet, as well as the overall tone and mood of the piece. Oftentimes, emotions arise in a poem as a result of personification and intensified language. Understanding how tone and emotion interact can be beneficial to writing a poem essay.
For example, in a poem that deals with a melancholic subject, the writing should be filled with sadness and longing. Moments of joy and clarity should be isolated and written in the clearest terms possible. Furthermore, when writing the essay, the focus should be on how the poet conveys these emotions and how the reader interprets them.

Construct a Poetic Perspective

When presenting a poem within an essay, it is important to remain as close to the source as possible. This means avoiding making broad and sweeping statements that are not backed up by the evidence from the text.
Rather, make sure to point out specific lines and examples from the poem that help build and justify the argument. In essence, the essay should serve as an extension of the poem, not a replacement of it.

Evaluate the Poem Objectively

The most objective way to evaluate a poem is to analyze the elements of the poem—its flow and structure, use of language, and its overall discussion of the subject at hand—in an informed and comprehensive way.
By asking questions about the poem’s use of metaphor, imagery, theme, irony, and symbolism, one can better understand the poet’s intent. Additionally, one should make sure to look beyond the surface level themes of the poem and look for the implications of the text, as well as its underlying messages. Finally, it is important to look for any patterns that might be present in the poem, and identify any possible recurring motifs.

Discern the Poet’s Message

Being able to articulate the poet’s message is essential when addressing any type of poem. Understanding what the poet is saying and attempting to convey is of particular importance when writing an essay that incorporates poetry.
One should look for any recurring ideas or themes and figure out what emotions the poet is trying to evoke. Furthermore, discernment of the poet’s message should encompass all levels of the work, from literal references to more subtle metaphors and symbols.

Make Connections to Real-Life Circumstances

Making connections between the poem and real life is another helpful tool when writing a poem essay. Identifying how the content of the poem relates to the real world can add an extra dimension of analysis and insight to the work.
For example, if the poem is about loss, one can look for how the poem speaks to anyone that has ever experienced it. Furthermore, looking at how the poem relates to one’s own personal emotions can also provide unique insight. This can help to provide broader and more general themes to be analyzed, instead of just looking at the intricacies of the poem in a vacuum.

Utilize Examples from Other Works

When writing an essay involving a poem, it can be helpful to look to similar works for reference. Whether it be another poet’s work or a piece of literature, leveraging examples from other sources can help illustrate different interpretations of the poem.
For instance, when discussing the emotions explored in a poem, one can look to other works that utilize similar techniques and discuss why that poem’s techniques are different or more effective. By looking at various sources, one can gain different perspectives on the poem and arrive at a more informed opinion.

Think Beyond the Prescribed Assignment

When writing a poem essay, it is important to think beyond the scope of the assignment. Poems often explore vast and nebulous abstractions, and a thorough examination of the poem should mean each emotion and idea has a chance to be discussed.
Instead of stopping at what the assignment requires, consider the implications of the poem further and explore different ways of interpreting it. Discuss the poem’s relation to the real-world and even contemplate what the poem means in the grand scheme of things. By going beyond the requirements of the assignment, one can create something much more personal and true to oneself.

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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