Friday, January 21, 2011


While I have done a lot of writing over my career, I have not written a lot of poetry but I am intrigued by this form of writing and perhaps one day I will share some of my poems here and I have thought about how to write poetry and here are some ideas, which I am putting into practice.  If you want to know how to write poetry, the first thing you have to do is write some. See my attempts below, I think it is important to write, It doesn't matter how it turns out. Your own mistakes will become your teachers. Your own writing will motivate you to greater creativity. Now, once you start the process, how do you improve it? Here are three tips.

1. Use nouns and verbs more than adjectives. Which is stronger: "She was as beautiful as a flower..." or "Roses wilted in shame as she passed by..."? "He looked at the depressing clouds..." or "He watched as dark clouds moved in, covering his sky..."?

2. Don't tell the reader how to feel. Let the words elicit the emotions directly, without explaining. "The tragedy touched them all," is more touching to the reader as "Men and women, doctor and workman... thirteen people looked upon the scene... with tears in their eyes."

3. Use dramatic and emotional words. Not all words are equal in their ability to "grab" a reader or elicit emotion. "Fell," "take," and "love," will probably be weaker than "plunged," "seized," and "worship."

Look at the following lines, written three ways.

The mountains and lakes were beautiful
I looked at them, heard them and smelled them
And I felt in awe

Mountains stand against the sky
My little lake at their feet
And in the middle of this creation
Which I see with my eyes
Hear with my ears
Smell and taste...
Words fail, as they should

Mountains rose from the mist of the lake
The scent of roses and lilacs filled my head
An Eagle floats high above
As the wind whispers in my ear
I stand in awe, silent

Which version is better? Again, if you want to know how to write poetry, you have to start writing. Use these and other rules to help you, but remember that all rules in poetry need to be broken at times. Read your poems aloud to yourself and others as a final "test."

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