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How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step

Sean Glatch  |  December 6, 2022  |  27 Comments

how to write poetry step by step

To learn how to write a poem step-by-step, let’s start where all poets start: the basics.

This article is an in-depth introduction to how to write a poem. We first answer the question, “What is poetry?” We then discuss the literary elements of poetry, and showcase some different approaches to the writing process—including our own seven-step process on how to write a poem step by step.

So, how do you write a poem? Let’s start with what poetry is.

What Poetry Is

It’s important to know what poetry is—and isn’t—before we discuss how to write a poem. The following quote defines poetry nicely:

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” —Former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove

Poetry Conveys Feeling

People sometimes imagine poetry as stuffy, abstract, and difficult to understand. Some poetry may be this way, but in reality poetry isn’t about being obscure or confusing. Poetry is a lyrical, emotive method of self-expression, using the elements of poetry to highlight feelings and ideas.

A poem should make the reader feel something.

In other words, a poem should make the reader feel something—not by telling them what to feel, but by evoking feeling directly.

Here’s a contemporary poem that, despite its simplicity (or perhaps because of its simplicity), conveys heartfelt emotion.

Poetry is Language at its Richest and Most Condensed

Unlike longer prose writing (such as a short story, memoir, or novel), poetry needs to impact the reader in the richest and most condensed way possible. Here’s a famous quote that enforces that distinction:

“Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in the best order.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So poetry isn’t the place to be filling in long backstories or doing leisurely scene-setting. In poetry, every single word carries maximum impact.

Poetry Uses Unique Elements

Poetry is not like other kinds of writing: it has its own unique forms, tools, and principles. Together, these elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

The elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

Most poetry is written in verse , rather than prose . This means that it uses line breaks, alongside rhythm or meter, to convey something to the reader. Rather than letting the text break at the end of the page (as prose does), verse emphasizes language through line breaks.

Poetry further accentuates its use of language through rhyme and meter. Poetry has a heightened emphasis on the musicality of language itself: its sounds and rhythms, and the feelings they carry.

These devices—rhyme, meter, and line breaks—are just a few of the essential elements of poetry, which we’ll explore in more depth now.

Understanding the Elements of Poetry

As we explore how to write a poem step by step, these three major literary elements of poetry should sit in the back of your mind:

  • Rhythm (Sound, Rhyme, and Meter)
  • Literary Devices

1. Elements of Poetry: Rhythm

“Rhythm” refers to the lyrical, sonic qualities of the poem. How does the poem move and breathe; how does it feel on the tongue?

Traditionally, poets relied on rhyme and meter to accomplish a rhythmically sound poem. Free verse poems—which are poems that don’t require a specific length, rhyme scheme, or meter—only became popular in the West in the 20th century, so while rhyme and meter aren’t requirements of modern poetry, they are required of certain poetry forms.

Poetry is capable of evoking certain emotions based solely on the sounds it uses. Words can sound sinister, percussive, fluid, cheerful, dour, or any other noise/emotion in the complex tapestry of human feeling.

Take, for example, this excerpt from the poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” by Walt Whitman:

elements of poetry: sound

Red — “b” sounds

Blue — “th” sounds

Green — “w” and “ew” sounds

Purple — “s” sounds

Orange — “d” and “t” sounds

This poem has a lot of percussive, disruptive sounds that reinforce the beating of the drums. The “b,” “d,” “w,” and “t” sounds resemble these drum beats, while the “th” and “s” sounds are sneakier, penetrating a deeper part of the ear. The cacophony of this excerpt might not sound “lyrical,” but it does manage to command your attention, much like drums beating through a city might sound.

To learn more about consonance and assonance, euphony and cacophony, and the other uses of sound, take a look at our article “12 Literary Devices in Poetry.”

https://writers.com/literary-devices-in-poetry

It would be a crime if you weren’t primed on the ins and outs of rhymes. “Rhyme” refers to words that have similar pronunciations, like this set of words: sound, hound, browned, pound, found, around.

Many poets assume that their poetry has to rhyme, and it’s true that some poems require a complex rhyme scheme. However, rhyme isn’t nearly as important to poetry as it used to be. Most traditional poetry forms—sonnets, villanelles , rimes royal, etc.—rely on rhyme, but contemporary poetry has largely strayed from the strict rhyme schemes of yesterday.

There are three types of rhymes:

  • Homophony: Homophones are words that are spelled differently but sound the same, like “tail” and “tale.” Homophones often lead to commonly misspelled words .
  • Perfect Rhyme: Perfect rhymes are word pairs that are identical in sound except for one minor difference. Examples include “slant and pant,” “great and fate,” and “shower and power.”
  • Slant Rhyme: Slant rhymes are word pairs that use the same sounds, but their final vowels have different pronunciations. For example, “abut” and “about” are nearly-identical in sound, but are pronounced differently enough that they don’t completely rhyme. This is also known as an oblique rhyme or imperfect rhyme.

Meter refers to the stress patterns of words. Certain poetry forms require that the words in the poem follow a certain stress pattern, meaning some syllables are stressed and others are unstressed.

What is “stressed” and “unstressed”? A stressed syllable is the sound that you emphasize in a word. The bolded syllables in the following words are stressed, and the unbolded syllables are unstressed:

  • Un• stressed
  • Plat• i• tud• i•nous
  • De •act•i• vate
  • Con• sti •tu• tion•al

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is important to traditional poetry forms. This chart, copied from our article on form in poetry , summarizes the different stress patterns of poetry.

2. Elements of Poetry: Form

“Form” refers to the structure of the poem. Is the poem a sonnet, a villanelle, a free verse piece, a slam poem, a contrapuntal, a ghazal, a blackout poem , or something new and experimental?

Form also refers to the line breaks and stanza breaks in a poem. Unlike prose, where the end of the page decides the line breaks, poets have control over when one line ends and a new one begins. The words that begin and end each line will emphasize the sounds, images, and ideas that are important to the poet.

To learn more about rhyme, meter, and poetry forms, read our full article on the topic:

https://writers.com/what-is-form-in-poetry

3. Elements of Poetry: Literary Devices

“Poetry: the best words in the best order.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

How does poetry express complex ideas in concise, lyrical language? Literary devices—like metaphor, symbolism, juxtaposition, irony, and hyperbole—help make poetry possible. Learn how to write and master these devices here:

https://writers.com/common-literary-devices

How to Write a Poem, in 7 Steps

To condense the elements of poetry into an actual poem, we’re going to follow a seven-step approach. However, it’s important to know that every poet’s process is different. While the steps presented here are a logical path to get from idea to finished poem, they’re not the only tried-and-true method of poetry writing. Poets can—and should!—modify these steps and generate their own writing process.

Nonetheless, if you’re new to writing poetry or want to explore a different writing process, try your hand at our approach. Here’s how to write a poem step by step!

1. Devise a Topic

The easiest way to start writing a poem is to begin with a topic.

However, devising a topic is often the hardest part. What should your poem be about? And where can you find ideas?

Here are a few places to search for inspiration:

  • Other Works of Literature: Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it’s part of a larger literary tapestry, and can absolutely be influenced by other works. For example, read “The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Hayes , a poem that was inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool.”
  • Real-World Events: Poetry, especially contemporary poetry, has the power to convey new and transformative ideas about the world. Take the poem “A Cigarette” by Ilya Kaminsky , which finds community in a warzone like the eye of a hurricane.
  • Your Life: What would poetry be if not a form of memoir? Many contemporary poets have documented their lives in verse. Take Sylvia Plath’s poem “Full Fathom Five” —a daring poem for its time, as few writers so boldly criticized their family as Plath did.
  • The Everyday and Mundane: Poetry isn’t just about big, earth-shattering events: much can be said about mundane events, too. Take “Ode to Shea Butter” by Angel Nafis , a poem that celebrates the beautiful “everydayness” of moisturizing.
  • Nature: The Earth has always been a source of inspiration for poets, both today and in antiquity. Take “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver , which finds meaning in nature’s quiet rituals.
  • Writing Exercises: Prompts and exercises can help spark your creativity, even if the poem you write has nothing to do with the prompt! Here’s 24 writing exercises to get you started.

At this point, you’ve got a topic for your poem. Maybe it’s a topic you’re passionate about, and the words pour from your pen and align themselves into a perfect sonnet! It’s not impossible—most poets have a couple of poems that seemed to write themselves.

However, it’s far more likely you’re searching for the words to talk about this topic. This is where journaling comes in.

Sit in front of a blank piece of paper, with nothing but the topic written on the top. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes and put down all of your thoughts related to the topic. Don’t stop and think for too long, and try not to obsess over finding the right words: what matters here is emotion, the way your subconscious grapples with the topic.

At the end of this journaling session, go back through everything you wrote, and highlight whatever seems important to you: well-written phrases, poignant moments of emotion, even specific words that you want to use in your poem.

Journaling is a low-risk way of exploring your topic without feeling pressured to make it sound poetic. “Sounding poetic” will only leave you with empty language: your journal allows you to speak from the heart. Everything you need for your poem is already inside of you, the journaling process just helps bring it out!

3. Think About Form

As one of the elements of poetry, form plays a crucial role in how the poem is both written and read. Have you ever wanted to write a sestina ? How about a contrapuntal, or a double cinquain, or a series of tanka? Your poem can take a multitude of forms, including the beautifully unstructured free verse form; while form can be decided in the editing process, it doesn’t hurt to think about it now.

4. Write the First Line

After a productive journaling session, you’ll be much more acquainted with the state of your heart. You might have a line in your journal that you really want to begin with, or you might want to start fresh and refer back to your journal when you need to! Either way, it’s time to begin.

What should the first line of your poem be? There’s no strict rule here—you don’t have to start your poem with a certain image or literary device. However, here’s a few ways that poets often begin their work:

  • Set the Scene: Poetry can tell stories just like prose does. Anne Carson does just this in her poem “Lines,” situating the scene in a conversation with the speaker’s mother.
  • Start at the Conflict: Right away, tell the reader where it hurts most. Margaret Atwood does this in “Ghost Cat,” a poem about aging.
  • Start With a Contradiction: Juxtaposition and contrast are two powerful tools in the poet’s toolkit. Joan Larkin’s poem “Want” begins and ends with these devices. Carlos Gimenez Smith also begins his poem “Entanglement” with a juxtaposition.
  • Start With Your Title: Some poets will use the title as their first line, like Ron Padgett’s poem “Ladies and Gentlemen in Outer Space.”

There are many other ways to begin poems, so play around with different literary devices, and when you’re stuck, turn to other poetry for inspiration.

5. Develop Ideas and Devices

You might not know where your poem is going until you finish writing it. In the meantime, stick to your literary devices. Avoid using too many abstract nouns, develop striking images, use metaphors and similes to strike interesting comparisons, and above all, speak from the heart.

6. Write the Closing Line

Some poems end “full circle,” meaning that the images the poet used in the beginning are reintroduced at the end. Gwendolyn Brooks does this in her poem “my dreams, my work, must wait till after hell.”

Yet, many poets don’t realize what their poems are about until they write the ending line . Poetry is a search for truth, especially the hard truths that aren’t easily explained in casual speech. Your poem, too, might not be finished until it comes across a necessary truth, so write until you strike the heart of what you feel, and the poem will come to its own conclusion.

7. Edit, Edit, Edit!

Do you have a working first draft of your poem? Congratulations! Getting your feelings onto the page is a feat in itself.

Yet, no guide on how to write a poem is complete without a note on editing. If you plan on sharing or publishing your work, or if you simply want to edit your poem to near-perfection, keep these tips in mind.

  • Adjectives and Adverbs: Use these parts of speech sparingly. Most imagery shouldn’t rely on adjectives and adverbs, because the image should be striking and vivid on its own, without too much help from excess language.
  • Concrete Line Breaks: Line breaks help emphasize important words, making certain images and ideas clearer to the reader. As a general rule, most of your lines should start and end with concrete words—nouns and verbs especially.
  • Stanza Breaks: Stanzas are like paragraphs to poetry. A stanza can develop a new idea, contrast an existing idea, or signal a transition in the poem’s tone. Make sure each stanza clearly stands for something as a unit of the poem.
  • Mixed Metaphors: A mixed metaphor is when two metaphors occupy the same idea, making the poem unnecessarily difficult to understand. Here’s an example of a mixed metaphor: “a watched clock never boils.” The meaning can be discerned, but the image remains unclear. Be wary of mixed metaphors—though some poets (like Shakespeare) make them work, they’re tricky and often disruptive.
  • Abstractions: Above all, avoid using excessively abstract language. It’s fine to use the word “love” 2 or 3 times in a poem, but don’t use it twice in every stanza. Let the imagery in your poem express your feelings and ideas, and only use abstractions as brief connective tissue in otherwise-concrete writing.

Lastly, don’t feel pressured to “do something” with your poem. Not all poems need to be shared and edited. Poetry doesn’t have to be “good,” either—it can simply be a statement of emotions by the poet, for the poet. Publishing is an admirable goal, but also, give yourself permission to write bad poems, unedited poems, abstract poems, and poems with an audience of one. Write for yourself—editing is for the other readers.

How to Write a Poem: Different Approaches and Philosophies

Poetry is the oldest literary form, pre-dating prose, theater, and the written word itself. As such, there are many different schools of thought when it comes to writing poetry. You might be wondering how to write a poem through different methods and approaches: here’s four philosophies to get you started.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Emotion

If you asked a Romantic Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the spontaneous emotion of the soul.

The Romantic Era viewed poetry as an extension of human emotion—a way of perceiving the world through unbridled creativity, centered around the human soul. While many Romantic poets used traditional forms in their poetry, the Romantics weren’t afraid to break from tradition, either.

To write like a Romantic, feel—and feel intensely. The words will follow the emotions, as long as a blank page sits in front of you.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Stream of Consciousness

If you asked a Modernist poet, “What is poetry?” they would tell you that poetry is the search for complex truths.

Modernist Poets were keen on the use of poetry as a window into the mind. A common technique of the time was “Stream of Consciousness,” which is unfiltered writing that flows directly from the poet’s inner dialogue. By tapping into one’s subconscious, the poet might uncover deeper truths and emotions they were initially unaware of.

Depending on who you are as a writer, Stream of Consciousness can be tricky to master, but this guide covers the basics of how to write using this technique.

How to Write a Poem: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of documenting the mind, rather than trying to control or edit what it produces. This practice was popularized by the Beat Poets , who in turn were inspired by Eastern philosophies and Buddhist teachings. If you asked a Beat Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the human consciousness, unadulterated.

To learn more about the art of leaving your mind alone , take a look at our guide on Mindfulness, from instructor Marc Olmsted.

https://writers.com/mindful-writing

How to Write a Poem: Poem as Camera Lens

Many contemporary poets use poetry as a camera lens, documenting global events and commenting on both politics and injustice. If you find yourself itching to write poetry about the modern day, press your thumb against the pulse of the world and write what you feel.

Additionally, check out these two essays by Electric Literature on the politics of poetry:

  • What Can Poetry Do That Politics Can’t?
  • Why All Poems Are Political (TL;DR: Poetry is an urgent expression of freedom).

Okay, I Know How to Write a Good Poem. What Next?

Poetry, like all art forms, takes practice and dedication. You might write a poem you enjoy now, and think it’s awfully written 3 years from now; you might also write some of your best work after reading this guide. Poetry is fickle, but the pen lasts forever, so write poems as long as you can!

Once you understand how to write a poem, and after you’ve drafted some pieces that you’re proud of and ready to share, here are some next steps you can take.

Publish in Literary Journals

Want to see your name in print? These literary journals house some of the best poetry being published today.

https://writers.com/best-places-submit-poetry-online

Assemble and Publish a Manuscript

A poem can tell a story. So can a collection of poems. If you’re interested in publishing a poetry book, learn how to compose and format one here:

https://writers.com/poetry-manuscript-format

Join a Writing Community

writers.com is an online community of writers, and we’d love it if you shared your poetry with us! Join us on Facebook and check out our upcoming poetry courses .

Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists to educate and uplift society. The world is waiting for your voice, so find a group and share your work!

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Sean Glatch

27 comments.

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super useful! love these articles 💕

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Indeed, very helpful, consize. I could not say more than thank you.

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I’ve never read a better guide on how to write poetry step by step. Not only does it give great tips, but it also provides helpful links! Thank you so much.

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Thank you very much, Hamna! I’m so glad this guide was helpful for you.

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Best guide so far

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Very inspirational and marvelous tips

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Thank you super tips very helpful.

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I have never gone through the steps of writing poetry like this, I will take a closer look at your post.

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Beautiful! Thank you! I’m really excited to try journaling as a starter step x

[…] How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step […]

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This is really helpful, thanks so much

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Extremely thorough! Nice job.

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Thank you so much for sharing your awesome tips for beginner writers!

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People must reboot this and bookmark it. Your writing and explanation is detailed to the core. Thanks for helping me understand different poetic elements. While reading, actually, I start thinking about how my husband construct his songs and why other artists lack that organization (or desire to be better). Anyway, this gave me clarity.

I’m starting to use poetry as an outlet for my blogs, but I also have to keep in mind I’m transitioning from a blogger to a poetic sweet kitty potato (ha). It’s a unique transition, but I’m so used to writing a lot, it’s strange to see an open blog post with a lot of lines and few paragraphs.

Anyway, thanks again!

I’m happy this article was so helpful, Eternity! Thanks for commenting, and best of luck with your poetry blog.

Yours in verse, Sean

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One of the best articles I read on how to write poems. And it is totally step by step process which is easy to read and understand.

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Thanks for the step step explanation in how to write poems it’s a very helpful to me and also for everyone one. THANKYOU

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Totally detailed and in a simple language told the best way how to write poems. It is a guide that one should read and follow. It gives the detailed guidance about how to write poems. One of the best articles written on how to write poems.

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what a guidance thank you so much now i can write a poem thank you again again and again

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The most inspirational and informative article I have ever read in the 21st century.It gives the most relevent,practical, comprehensive and effective insights and guides to aspiring writers.

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Thank you so much. This is so useful to me a poetry

[…] Write a short story/poem (Here are some tips) […]

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It was very helpful and am willing to try it out for my writing Thanks ❤️

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Thank you so much. This is so helpful to me, and am willing to try it out for my writing .

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Absolutely constructive, direct, and so useful as I’m striving to develop a recent piece. Thank you!

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thank you for your explanation……,love it

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Really great. Nothing less.

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Your Guide To Writing Poetry As A Form Of Self-Care

emily mcgowan headshot

How To Write A Poem

I used to believe that poetry only lived in old books and dusty libraries. I’d pace the tenth floor of my college campus library—what we called the stacks—and run my finger delicately along the linen spines of old hardbacks. That environment, I believed, was where poetry lived and nowhere else. A place of reverence, of silence, and of a tiny bit of fear that my travel mug might spill coffee on the hundred-year-old books.

As I wrote more poetry, though, it started to reveal its true colors: poems would show up in the margins of my lecture notes, as saved drafts in my email, on the back of any junk mail I could find. One day, I even wrote short lines on dried autumn leaves that I tossed into a stream to watch float away. Hey—I was eighteen, and very dramatic.

“ I discovered that poetry didn’t require anything more than the words you have on hand. ”

I discovered that poetry didn’t require anything more than the words you have on hand. I started to see how it could help me connect to the world, to be present, and to finally get to know myself in a way I hadn’t quite excavated yet. Poetry, like those leaves I sent down the stream, allowed me to release the painful things that burdened my heart.

As the gravity of 2020 increases with each passing month, I’ve returned to writing poetry. But this time, it’s not for a professor to grade or for a classroom of peers to critique; instead, it’s a form of self-care that helps me process my thoughts and motivate me to action. While I’m still maintaining a journaling habit , I appreciate that poetry offers freedom from narrative and a space to feel what I feel without explanation. For me, a journal asks, “what have you done today?” while a poem asks, “how do you feel about it?”

“ It’s a form of self-care that helps me process my thoughts and motivate me to action. ”

Poetry has become one of the ways I check in on myself. Whenever my mind is racing, I find it clarifying and cathartic to hammer out a few lines on my typewriter or scrawl out a verse on whatever paper is handy. It’s simultaneously easier than you think, and more confronting than you’d expect. If you also find solace in writing through your emotions, here’s a guide to writing poetry for self-care.

1. Set up your writing area

If you’d prefer to write on the fly, go for it. For me to feel energized and supported by my writing, I need a clear workspace, a blank page, and a good pen. (Tell me why my current favorite pen is a promotional freebie from a whiskey brand that I’ve never drank?) I intentionally choose pen and paper, because computers get too distracting and suddenly I’m two pages deep on a Google image search for pictures of young Paul Simon.

The process of creating a workspace can also offer up a soothing moment before you dive into potentially emotional topics. Light a candle, make some tea, play some music—set the mood like you would for other self-care rituals.

2. Freewrite

If a poem isn’t leaping out from your pen onto the page (it rarely does), start by freewriting. I find it helpful to name the emotions I’m holding on to, but I always balance it with tangible details. For example, if I’m feeling nostalgic for summer breaks, I’ll note my fondness for them and my feeling of grief for the ending of those youthful days. Then, I jot down details I can remember: working as a skating carhop at the local Sonic Drive-In, getting brain freeze from marshmallow sundaes at the ice cream shop, running through shaded trails with my cross country team.

“ Take a look at the patterns that are coming up for you and ask yourself if there’s a theme to explore. ”

Take a look at the patterns that are coming up for you and ask yourself if there’s a theme to explore. In the example above, I can see that I’m missing the sensory moments of summer and the people I experienced them with.

You can also look at the words themselves to see what your subconscious might be wanting to discuss. Maybe a word like “ bivouacking ” catches your fancy—write about it. I find that patterns in my negative word usage can be helpful. “Can’t” means I feel inadequate; “shouldn’t” means I am self-limiting; “won’t” means I’m pushing too hard on something and may need to let it go. It’s okay to face these feelings; the page is a safe space for you to experience them in all their depth.

3. Focus on physical things  

Another misconception I held about poetry was that it was abstract. In my younger years, I consistently sought new and exciting rhymes for conceptual words like “love,” “hope,” and “peace.” But as I’ve cultivated poetry into a grounding practice, I’m discovering that it can be grounded, too.

Once you have a general idea, allow it to simmer into something more tangible. Hone in on one small experience or object—what can writing about it tell you about how you’re feeling? If you’re writing about those days of ice cream sundaes, focus on how the sun felt on your skin, the visual of ants congregating around the leftover sprinkles on the ground, the sound of your coins as you counted them to hand to the cashier. I think of it as a written form of the 54321 exercise that folks recommend for anxiety, and it helps me immerse myself in a memory (and get me out of my head). 

There doesn’t have to be a metaphor, and you don’t have to force one. Maybe, later on, the poem will take on a new meaning for you. But for now, let the details speak for themselves. The poem “ The Red Wheelbarrow ” always evokes such strong emotion for me, and is a perfect example of how physical details can make a huge impact. When in doubt: show, don’t tell.

“ There doesn’t have to be a metaphor, and you don’t have to force one. ”

4. Function over form—but form works, too

You don’t have to start with sonnets or villanelles . In fact, and maybe this’ll shock you, poems don’t need to rhyme at all.

One lesson that I wildly misconstrued from my creative writing classes was that “you have to know the rules before you break them.” I figured this meant I had to learn everything before I could write anything. False. Don’t let rules stop you from giving life to the words that reside in your heart.

So as you begin to write your poem, invite rhyme and alliteration without forcing your words into them. Let your lines break where they want to break, like waves crashing towards the shore. Does a single word hold so much weight that you want it to have its own

Remember: this is writing poetry for self-care, so let the self lead. You can look back later to examine why you chose what you did, but for now, focus on where your instinct is telling you to put each word. If you’re feeling stuck, remind yourself that the process of writing a poem can be something slow and indulgent—like eating an expensive chocolate bar.

5. Self-editing (or not!)

Once you have a completed first draft, maybe you’re ready to tear the yellow sheet from your legal pad, crumple it up, toss it over your shoulder, and never speak of the poem again. Expressing your feelings, and actively working to release the ones that do not serve you is self-care in its own right. When you feel that the poem has served its purpose for you, you can let it go.

But I find that in poetry and in life, a little self-editing goes a long way. After you’ve written your first draft, try stepping away for a few days before revisiting your writing (and the coordinating emotions). This allows you to take some space from the experience, especially if you’re writing as a way to navigate grief or heartache. You’ll come back with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, and your writing will serve as a reminder of your progress.

“ [Stepping away] allows you to take some space from the experience…you’ll come back with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, and your writing will serve as a reminder of your progress. ”

When it’s time to edit, grab a pen in a different color and start marking up the page as if you were reading the poem for the first time. Ask yourself for further clarification on points that are unclear and offer suggestions for new words. Is there a word that better describes what you are trying to say? Add or remove line breaks or punctuation if it suits the piece. And my favorite part—strike a line through anything extraneous.

I do this because I want the poem to be more precise, and in turn, to clarify my emotions. I might find connections between the lines and, perhaps, strengthen them. Maybe I find an undercurrent of sadness in a happy poem, and my words invite me to dig a little deeper. Or, maybe I’ve cooked up yet another unintentional metaphor about bread by using words like “needing,” and “rising” and “golden.” Usually that just means I should bake another loaf.

6. Make it real

This part is my favorite—cement your progress by transferring the poem to a blank page. Give your words a home on your nicest paper, using your inkiest pen. I don’t have a printer (does anyone?), but the experience of printing a simple poem on a crisp sheet of paper is equally divine. The paper comes out warm and covered in words that you wrote.

“ No poem is ever done. Don’t be afraid to add to your work, to change it, to file it away forever and start completely fresh. ”

Make it official, even if it’s only to tuck into your journal. Because—and I can’t overstate this—your words and your experiences are vital. Processing is progress, and writing poetry offers us an opportunity to go a little deeper into our own psyche. Pull this intention into your writing, and view each poem as a step towards healing or self-knowledge.

And, finally, know this: every poem births a hundred more, and no poem is ever done. Don’t be afraid to add to your work, to change it, to file it away forever and start completely fresh. Happy writing, friends. 💕

What forms of creativity have you been using as self-care lately? Share what you’re working on in the comments below!

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Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.

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A poem is defined as “a composition in verse.” You’ve probably read poetry in school, like famous sonnets or even Romantic odes . 

Reading poetry can be tough, which means writing poetry can me even more intimidating! But guess what? It doesn’t have to be. That’s why we’ve put together this expert guide on how to write good poetry. In this article, we’re going to cover: 

  • The definition of a poem 
  • What makes writing poetry different than writing prose 
  • The 5 tips for writing poetry that you need to know
  • The best resources for writing poems of your own

So whether you’re an aspiring poet or just writing a poem as part of an assignment, we’ve got you covered with these poetry tips.

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What Is a Poem?

You probably know a poem when you see one, but you might not have thought about what makes a poem a poem. 

There is no single definition of what makes a piece of writing qualify as a poem, but there are a few qualities that most poems share. 

For instance, most poems rely heavily on symbolic language and imagery to help the reader understand the poet’s meaning. Poets use comparisons like metaphors and similes to help readers make connections between the poem’s topic and its meaning, and they often paint vivid pictures with words. 

Furthermore, many poems have both rhythm and rhyme . That’s not terribly surprising since songs and poems are closely related! 

When poets write a poem, they often think about how words combine to create rhymes and beats that help the poem move at a certain pace. If you’ve ever studied iambic pentameter , then you’ve studied a poem’s rhythm. ( Sonnets are a great place to learn more about how a poem’s rhyme scheme, too.) 

Keep in mind that not all poems use these tools, and they certainly don’t use them all in the same way. But if you’re looking at a piece of writing that uses a combination of symbolism/imagery, rhythm, and/or rhyme, you might have a poem on your hands.  

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What Makes Writing Poetry Different From Writing Prose?

You’ve probably written a lot more prose than poetry in your life. Prose is defined as writing that has no metrical or rhythmic structure. That’s just a fancy way of saying that prose is writing that is structured in similarly to how we speak. 

You’re really familiar with prose writing, even if you’re not aware of it. Your textbooks, your science reports, your history essays, the Harry Potter books, and your diary are all examples of prose writing. While there are lots of styles of prose writing, the thing they all have in common is that they use grammar rules to make the writing read similarly to spoken language.

This means you’ve probably written a lot more prose than poetry over your lifetime. That doesn’t mean you can’t write great poetry! You’ll just have to get used to a different style of writing.  

The process of writing good poetry can be pretty different from the process you’d use to write prose like an essay or term paper. Think of it this way: you’re not really trying to explain all of the ins and outs of a topic in a poem. Instead, when you’re writing a poem, you’re trying to get your readers to experience certain emotions . Poets use images and feelings--rather than logical arguments--to help convey their meaning.

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Writing good poetry can be tough, but understanding poetic devices can make the process a lot easier!

The 3 Poetic Devices You Need to Write Good Poetry

One of the best ways to get a handle on writing poetry is to understand some of the major devices, or tools, that you can use to put your poem together. While there are literally dozens of poetic devices that poets use to write poetry, here are the three you need to know to get started.

Poetic Device 1: Metaphors 

In poetry, metaphors are one of the primary ways that poets use to create imagery, evoke tone, and even convey the poem’s themes and meanings. 

But what is a metaphor, exactly? Merriam Webster defines a metaphor as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” In other words, a metaphor compares two seemingly unlike objects in order to create meaning. 

Here are three examples of metaphors to give you a better idea about how they work: 

  • The assignment was a breeze. This metaphor compares a class assignment to a breeze, which is a gentle wind. While an assignment isn’t literally a gust of air, this comparison shows that the assignment was easy.  
  • Linda’s temper was a wildfire. This example compares Linda to a wildfire in order to show how dangerous her temper can be. 
  • Her eyes were a window to her soul. Of course, eyes can’t be a literal window. But they can give you insight into how a person is feeling and what they’re thinking. This metaphor uses the comparison between “eyes” and “a window” to show readers how observing a person can help us better understand who they are.

So why are metaphors an important aspect of how to write good poetry? 

Metaphors work by helping us create associations between two things in a figurative, or imaginative, way. Let’s take the example above that covers Linda’s temper. The poet could write, “Linda had a strong temper.” But that doesn’t quite explain how strong Linda’s temper is. Does she get mad, but then get over it quickly? Or is she the type that throws plates when she’s upset? 

By comparing Linda’s temper to a “wildfire,” the poet is able to give us a more specific--and more vivid!--picture of Linda when she’s upset. A wildfire is a fire that rages out of control, so we can definitely imagine what Linda is like once she gets mad. 

By using a metaphor, the poet makes it pretty clear that we wouldn’t like Linda when she’s angry. 

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Poetic Device 2: Voice

Do you have a favorite comedian who just always makes you laugh because she comes up with a surprising way pointing things out? Or do you have a friend who says things in a really unique way that sticks with you? 

If you’ve experienced one of these things--or something similar!--then you’ve come in contact with someone who has a unique voice. 

The idea of voice is an important concept in poetry, too. Voice can be described as all the unique word choices and associations that make a piece of writing identifiable as being from a specific author or having a specific perspective . Poets spend a lot of time creating their voice so that their work stands out from the crowd. They can also use their voice to help shape the topics they write about. 

For instance, if a poet has a sarcastic voice, you know right away that they’re going to be tackling topics from a tongue-in-cheek perspective. And their poetry is probably going to be pretty substantially different than someone who has a more romantic voice. But even a sarcastic author may want to write a happy poem every once in a while. And that’s okay: they can just change their voice a little to fit the poem and its subject matter. 

Creating a voice for either yourself or a specific poem has a lot to do with the words you choose and the feelings you’re trying to convey . For example, if you want to write with a sad, melancholy voice, you’re probably going to say things like “the clouds wept on the sea” rather than “the sun shone on the daisies”! 

Poetic Device 3: Form

When it comes to advice for writing poetry, one of the best tips is to think about your poem’s form. The form of a poem is essentially how a poem looks on the page. 

For instance, many poems include line breaks as part of their form , meaning the poem’s lines end before they hit the right margin of the page or the end of a sentence. So instead of reading like a paragraph (like this one), the poem looks something like this: 

O’er the ocean billows, heaping      Mountains on the sloping sands,  There are ever wildly sweeping      Shapeless and invisible hands. 

— Excerpted from ”Music” by Alice Cary 

Ultimately, form can involve several things: how many lines per stanza and how many stanzas a poem has, which lines in a poem (if any) rhyme, whether or not lines are indented from the margin, and whether or not lines repeat. 

Things like line breaks and stanzas are part of formal poetic structures. Some poets decide not to use any of these things at all and write in free verse instead. Free verse just means the poem does not follow the rules of any traditional form . The poet is free to invent whatever overall structure she thinks is appropriate for the poem being written. Sometimes these can be individual words on different lines, or poems written in paragraph format. 

So how does form affect a poem? With traditional forms, readers have a clear idea of how the poem is structured . It’s a familiar format, which means your biggest task is to fill out the poem’s skeleton with the words and metaphors you come up with. Traditional forms also give readers a general idea of what the poem is going to be about. A sonnet, for example, is usually about love or relationships. 

Free verse, on the other hand, can feel a lot more open and unrestrained than a traditional poem that has line breaks and a rhyme scheme. Because free verse can seem like an unusual way to write a poem, it’s a good form for unique, untraditional, or unusual topics. 

If you’re just starting out in poetry, you may find it easier to write in a more traditional form . But in the end, the form of a poem is totally up to you! 

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The 5 Best Tips for Writing Poetry

Now that we’ve discussed what a poem is and how it’s different from prose, how do you go about making one that will work? 

The thing about poetry is that there isn’t a single way to make a great poem. However, if you follow the expert tips for writing poetry below, you’ll be well on your way to writing poetry you’re proud of. 

Poetry Tip 1: Decide Where to Start

Because poems are often split into chunks--at least, if you’re using a more traditional form!-- you might find it helpful to start writing somewhere other than the beginning. 

For example, say you have a really pretty image of a sunset that you want to include in your poem. But you’re pretty sure you want to talk about the sunset at the end of the poem, not the beginning. That’s okay! Start writing your poem where the inspiration strikes you . You can always rearrange lines and stanzas later. 

You may also choose to start writing a poem by deciding on the poem’s theme or message rather than its content. Maybe you want to write about the joy you experience while running. Instead of worrying about saying the right thing the right way, you can start writing lines and thoughts that help you capture the feeling of running. Then you can start stitching those snippets into a longer poem. 

Poetry Tip 2: Pick a Form

Are you going to wing it, and let a structure form on its own? Or are you going to use a traditional form, like a Shakespearean sonnet , that has a very specific structure? 

The form you choose will have a pretty significant effect on your poem. For instance, sonnets (which traditionally include a little surprising shift in direction about halfway through called a volta ) work really well in telling short stories or conveying memories. But a free verse poem may be better suited for telling a more involved story. 

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the poetic forms you can use. If you want to explore different poetic forms, be sure to check out t he Academy of American Poets’s web page which has information on many of the most common poetic forms. 

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Your poems come from your imagination, so don't be afraid to invite readers into your imaginary world. 

Poetry Tip 3: Create a Tiny World

When you’re writing poetry, your job is to engage the reader’s senses. You paint pictures for their imagination, encourage them to feel certain emotions, and can even engage their other senses like smell or taste through your descriptions. 

Put another way, your poem gives the reader a window into a tiny world you’re creating.

When you’re building your poem-world, think about how all the different elements work together. Are they playing nice or are they creating tension because they don’t belong together? How these elements interact can help create the tone of your poem. For example, if your poem features two dogs sleeping happily together in front of a fireplace, there’s a good chance your reader will feel happy and comfortable (rather than scared, angry, or sad).

You can also think about whether you’re giving the reader all the details they need to imagine your world correctly. For instance, if the scene you’re painting is damp and dark, you’ll want to include descriptive words that help your reader imagine the image you have in your head. The same is true if you have people in your poem. What are they doing? Where are they going? How are they feeling? Including these details can really help your poem come to life. 

Poetry Tip 4: Try Out Weird Ideas

One of the reasons poets like to write poetry is that you have the freedom to take risks in a way you don’t in any other written art form . 

When it comes to prose writing, the rules of grammar, logic, and structure often dictate what you can do. Take a historian who’s writing a book on George Washington’s life. Can you imagine what would happen if the writer said, “You know what? I’m going to stop writing about George Washington and talk about Elon Musk?” That wouldn’t be a very accurate history book!

Poets, on the other hand, have the freedom to explore ideas and situations that seem random or contradictory. Oftentimes, playing with the bounds of reality can make a poem even better. When you’re writing poetry, don’t be afraid to take risks in terms of your content, ideas, and form. Those risks often pay out! 

Poetry Tip 5: Revise

Poems are rarely written in a single sitting . Yes, we know poems are short, so they seem like they’re easy to write. But in actuality, poets spend hours thinking about which words to choose and how to make readers feel different emotions. That’s actually pretty painstaking work. In fact, many poems are revised dozens of times before they’re published. 

When you start writing poetry, make sure you give yourself enough time to come back to your poem and make tweaks. It’s usually best to come back to a poem after a few days so you can see it with fresh eyes. Keep all your drafts so you can compare them later, and don’t be afraid to try wildly new approaches when revising. 

Don’t think of revising as fixing all the grammatical mistakes you made; rather think about all the ways you can change your poem that can accomplish new things . Try rewriting it in a different form so you can see how effective the forms are for what you’re trying to get across. Try changing the metaphors, try rephrasing some of the lines that feel off to you. Try cutting it so that it’s shorter, or adding stanzas to make it longer. 

Poetry is about experimentation, so don’t be afraid to make changes to your poem to see what happens. 

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Additional Resources for Writing Poetry

When it comes to advice on writing poetry, one of the best poetry tips we have is to encourage you to dive into helpful resources. We’ve put together a list of books, websites, and even email subscriptions that can help you learn more about poetry so you can become an even better poet. 

Writing Poems by Robert Wallace and Michelle Boisseau

One excellent textbook that will give you an easy-to-understand list of poetic terms, tons of writing prompts, and tips for writing poetry Robert Wallace and Michelle Boisseau’s Writing Poems . They also include examples of poems that can help inspire your own writing. If you’re just getting started out writing poetry, this book is an invaluable resource. 

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Eavan Boland

If you want to learn more about the various poetic forms, The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms is the book for you. It has in-depth examples of many common (and not-so-common) poetic forms, and it explains the construction of each one. If you’re looking to experiment with the form of your writing, this book is a great pick. 

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The Best American Poetry

If you want to start following the current trends of contemporary poetry, you can pick up the most recent copy of The Best American Poetry . This is an annual anthology that contains several notable poems published in that year for you to read. Like most things, poetry goes through trends and phases, so flipping through a few of these anthologies will give you an idea of what type of poetry is popular at the moment. 

T he Poetry Foundation 

The Poetry Foundation is an organization dedicated to helping make poetry more accessible for everyone. To help with that, they publish hundreds of poems—both contemporary and classic—on their website every year. They also have biographies of famous poets, audio recordings of poems that you can listen to, and expert guides that help readers analyze famous poetry. Whether you’re learning about poetry or trying to write your own, The Poetry Foundation is a fantastic resource for you. 

Daily Poetry Emails

One of the best ways to understand poetry is by reading tons and tons of poems. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on poetry books and anthologies, though. There are plenty of organizations that will send poems to your email box for free every day! We’re big fans of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day , but there are dozens of services you can sign up for. If you keep reading poetry, your own writing will get better, too. 

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What's Next?

When you’re learning to write poetry, the best thing you can do is read lots of poems. Why not check out this list of the world’s most famous sonnets to get you started?

In this article, we talked about a few of the basic poetic devices you’ll need to write good poetry. But there are actually a lot of poetic devices out there ! This article explains the 20 must-know poetic devices that can help you in writing good poetry and in analyzing poems that are already written.

Speaking of poetry tips: reading a poem and figuring out its meaning can be pretty tricky sometimes. We’ve put together a step-by-step analysis of Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night” that can help you better understand how poetry analysis works. Our experts walk you through the poem line by line and show you how to figure out a poem’s meaning on your own. 

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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Poetry Writing: Invention

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The following resource provides the reader with a better understanding of invention and invention strategies for poetry writing. It includes a number of exercises that can be used to aid in the invention process.

Poetry is an exciting form because it allows for a great deal of exploration and experimentation. Most writers are acquainted with poetry at a young age, through nursery rhymes or through children’s poets such as Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. You may also be a fan of rhyming poetry, and of some of the set forms for poems, such as the sestina or the pantoum. These forms for poetry, along with the other existing forms, give a new poet a place to start—a container to be filled-in with one’s own ideas.

Most contemporary poets write in free-verse instead. Rhymes are not common here; instead, the poem draws its shape from the natural pauses between thoughts and images. Contemporary poets use line breaks, caesura, and stanza breaks to slow a reader down or to emphasize important ideas, instead of relying on the repetition of sounds. Sound is still a vital element of contemporary poetry, but the aesthetic principles (what we find beautiful) have changed from the days of Shakespeare or even Robert Frost. The white space on the page is a valuable tool for poets, as it gives the reader time to pause and to make leaps between moments in the poem.

The hardest thing about writing a poem is often finding a place to start. You may have been told to “write what you know”—always good advice. Sometimes, certain images/moments/experiences will strike you as somehow important ; something happens, and you find yourself thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s important, therefore, to always be aware of the world around you—always looking for inspiration.

Alternatively, you may sit down to write a poem with a specific agenda in mind. You want to make a statement about the world, maybe personal, maybe political, and you want to say it in through a poem. Poems written this way require a lot of reflection, as the poet works to find the images or narrative that will get their point across skillfully and artfully.

Poet H. L. Hix writes that a poem always has a “synoptic moment,” one in which “the whole is implicit in the part” (41). This moment could also be considered the heart or main idea of the poem. The poem may start with this moment—a technique Hix calls “expository” (41). Alternatively, the poem may build up to that moment in a “cumulative” way, meaning the point falls at the end (41). Many writers begin a poem with an image and “write into” the synoptic moment; they don’t know what that moment will be until they arrive there. The opposite approach is to set out with the synoptic moment already in mind. Nix writes:

Unless I reflect on—unless I choose —a poem’s aims, I remain confined to received aim, those most typical of my time and place (41).

In other words, by beginning with an aim/something you want to get across, you open yourself up to more possibility in terms of imagery and form. By starting with an image, or by not knowing the poem’s aims ahead of time, Hix suggests that you are limiting yourself to only the images you see, things that are thrown into your path by chance.

At times, you may feel less inspired—you may not have a set agenda or “synoptic moment” in mind. That’s perfectly okay. Your own daily life experience is rich in images and material for poetry; you just have to focus in on the material to find a starting point. When you want or need to write something, you may have to prod your subconscious into it—find a hidden moment or image that can become something. Generative exercises are helpful for starting from scratch when you think you’re out of ideas, and some might help you figure out what happens next. The links below provide a few generative exercises to get you going:

Works Referenced:

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Poetry Explications

What this handout is about.

A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis which describes the possible meanings and relationships of the words, images, and other small units that make up a poem. Writing an explication is an effective way for a reader to connect a poem’s subject matter with its structural features. This handout reviews some of the important techniques of approaching and writing a poetry explication, and includes parts of two sample explications.

Preparing to write the explication

Before you try to tackle your first draft of the explication, it’s important to first take a few preliminary steps to help familiarize yourself with the poem and reveal possible avenues of analysis.

  • Read the poem or excerpt of poetry silently, then read it aloud (if not in a testing situation). Repeat as necessary.
  • Circle, highlight, underline, or otherwise note specific moments that caught your attention as you were reading, and reflect on why you noticed them. These could be moments that made sense to you, profoundly confused you, or something in between. Such moments might be single words, phrases, or formal features (e.g., rhyme, meter, enjambment).
  • Reflect on the poem and what it conveyed to you as a reader. You might not be able to fully and logically describe this, but take note of what you noticed. You might consider jotting down your initial thoughts after your first reading, and then noting how your ideas changed after you re-read the poem.

The large issues

Before you really delve into linguistic and formal elements, it’s first important to take a step back and get a sense of the “big picture” of a poem. The following key questions can be helpful when assessing a poem’s overall message:

How did the poem affect you as a reader? The word “affect” can be helpful to consider here since it denotes the overall subjective experience one has in response to reading something (or seeing or experiencing anything, really). This can encompass thoughts, emotions, moods, ideas, etc.—whatever the experience produced in you as a person. You can ask yourself what affective, or emotional, atmosphere the poem produced, even if something about it is difficult to describe. What adjective would you use to describe the tone of the poem? Happy? Sad? Thoughtful? Despairing? Joyous? How did the poem make you feel generally? Did the poem bring to mind certain ideas or images, etc.?

Does the poem have an identifiable speaker or addressee? Is the poem attributed to a specific speaker, or is this unclear or ambiguous? Is the speaker clearly addressing a specific second person audience, or a general one, or does this not come up? Is there a specific dramatic motivation driving the speaker to speak? You may have to make decisions about how to discuss the speaker or addressee in your explication, so it’s worth noticing how the poem is framed.

What seems to be the larger theme, or point, of the poem? This is the first question to try to address. Even if the larger message of the poem seems highly ambiguous, it’s important to first try to get a sense of this before you can move into analyzing the poem more fully. Does the poem seem to be an attempt to understand something? To appreciate something? To express a feeling? To work through a complex idea? To convey an image? Some combination of motivations?

After considering these questions, keep in mind that it’s okay if the poem still confuses you or eludes your full understanding. In fact, this sense of mystery can encourage further thought when trying to explicate a poem. Keep thinking carefully about the intricacies of the language and you may be able to convey some of this sense in your explication.

The details

To analyze the design of the poem, we must focus on the poem’s parts, namely how the poem dramatizes conflicts or ideas in language. By concentrating on the parts, we develop our understanding of the poem’s structure, and we gather support and evidence for our interpretations. Some of the details we should consider include the following:

  • Form: Does the poem represent a particular form (sonnet, sestina, etc.)? Does the poem present any unique variations from the traditional structure of that form?
  • Rhetoric: How does the speaker make particular statements? Does the rhetoric seem odd in any way? Why? Consider the predicates and what they reveal about the speaker.
  • Syntax: Consider the subjects, verbs, and objects of each statement and what these elements reveal about the speaker. Do any statements have convoluted or vague syntax?
  • Vocabulary: Why does the poet choose one word over another in each line? Do any of the words have multiple or archaic meanings that add other meanings to the line? Use the Oxford English Dictionary as a resource.

The patterns

As you analyze the design line by line, look for certain patterns to develop which provide insight into the dramatic situation, the speaker’s state of mind, or the poet’s use of details. Some of the most common patterns include the following:

  • Rhetorical Patterns: Look for statements that follow the same format.
  • Rhyme: Consider the significance of the end words joined by sound; in a poem with no rhymes, consider the importance of the end words.
  • Patterns of Sound: Alliteration and assonance create sound effects and often cluster significant words.
  • Visual Patterns: How does the poem look on the page?
  • Rhythm and Meter: Consider how rhythm and meter influence our perception of the speaker and language.

Basic terms for talking about meter

Meter (from the Greek metron, meaning measure) refers principally to the recurrence of regular beats in a poetic line. In this way, meter pertains to the structure of the poem as it is written.

The most common form of meter in English verse since the 14th century is accentual-syllabic meter, in which the basic unit is the foot. A foot is a combination of two or three stressed and/or unstressed syllables. The following are the four most common metrical feet in English poetry:

  • IAMBIC (the noun is “iamb”): an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, a pattern which comes closest to approximating the natural rhythm of speech. Note line 23 from Shelley’s “Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples”: ⏑ / ⏑ / ⏑ / ⏑ / And walked | with in | ward glo | ry crowned
  • TROCHAIC (the noun is “trochee”): a stressed followed by an unstressed syllable, as in the first line of Blake’s “Introduction” to Songs of Innocence: / ⏑ / ⏑ / ⏑ / Piping | down the | valleys | wild
  • ANAPESTIC (the noun is “anapest”): two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable, as in the opening to Byron’s “The Destruction of Sennacherib”: ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ / The Assyr | ian came down | like the wolf | on the fold
  • DACTYLIC (the noun is “dactyl”): a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, as in Thomas Hardy’s “The Voice”: / ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ / ⏑ ⏑ Woman much | missed, how you | call to me, | call to me

Meter also refers to the number of feet in a line:

Any number above six (hexameter) is heard as a combination of smaller parts; for example, what we might call heptameter (seven feet in a line) is indistinguishable (aurally) from successive lines of tetrameter and trimeter (4-3).

To scan a line is to determine its metrical pattern. Perhaps the best way to begin scanning a line is to mark the natural stresses on the polysyllabic words. Take Shelley’s line:

And walked with inward glory crowned.

Then mark the polysyllabic nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that are normally stressed:

Then fill in the rest:

Then divide the line into feet:

Then note the sequence:

The line consists of four iambs; therefore, we identify the line as iambic tetrameter.

I got rhythm

Rhythm refers particularly to the way a line is voiced, i.e., how one speaks the line. Often, when a reader reads a line of verse, choices of stress and unstress may need to be made. For example, the first line of Keats’ “Ode on Melancholy” presents the reader with a problem:

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist

If we determine the regular pattern of beats (the meter) of this line, we will most likely identify the line as iambic pentameter. If we read the line this way, the statement takes on a musing, somewhat disinterested tone. However, because the first five words are monosyllabic, we may choose to read the line differently. In fact, we may be tempted, especially when reading aloud, to stress the first two syllables equally, making the opening an emphatic, directive statement. Note that monosyllabic words allow the meaning of the line to vary according to which words we choose to stress when reading (i.e., the choice of rhythm we make).

The first line of Milton’s Paradise Lost presents a different type of problem.

Of Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Again, this line is predominantly iambic, but a problem occurs with the word “Disobedience.” If we read strictly by the meter, then we must fuse the last two syllables of the word. However, if we read the word normally, we have a breakage in the line’s metrical structure. In this way, the poet forges a tension between meter and rhythm: does the word remain contained by the structure, or do we choose to stretch the word out of the normal foot, thereby disobeying the structure in which it was made? Such tension adds meaning to the poem by using meter and rhythm to dramatize certain conflicts. In this example, Milton forges such a tension to present immediately the essential conflicts that lead to the fall of Adam and Eve.

Writing the explication

The explication should follow the same format as the preparation: begin with the large issues and basic design of the poem and work through each line to the more specific details and patterns.

The first paragraph

The first paragraph should present the large issues; it should inform the reader which conflicts are dramatized and should describe the dramatic situation of the speaker. The explication does not require a formal introductory paragraph; the writer should simply start explicating immediately. According to UNC ‘s Professor William Harmon, the foolproof way to begin any explication is with the following sentence:

“This poem dramatizes the conflict between …”

Such a beginning ensures that you will introduce the major conflict or theme in the poem and organize your explication accordingly.

Here is an example. A student’s explication of Wordsworth’s “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” might begin in the following way:

This poem dramatizes the conflict between appearance and reality, particularly as this conflict relates to what the speaker seems to say and what he really says. From Westminster Bridge, the speaker looks at London at sunrise, and he explains that all people should be struck by such a beautiful scene. The speaker notes that the city is silent, and he points to several specific objects, naming them only in general terms: “Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples” (6). After describing the “glittering” aspect of these objects, he asserts that these city places are just as beautiful in the morning as country places like “valley, rock, or hill” (8,10). Finally, after describing his deep feeling of calmness, the speaker notes how the “houses seem asleep” and that “all that mighty heart is lying still” (13, 14). In this way, the speaker seems to say simply that London looks beautiful in the morning.

The next paragraphs

The next paragraphs should expand the discussion of the conflict by focusing on details of form, rhetoric, syntax, and vocabulary. In these paragraphs, the writer should explain the poem line by line in terms of these details, and he or she should incorporate important elements of rhyme, rhythm, and meter during this discussion.

The student’s explication continues with a topic sentence that directs the discussion of the first five lines:

However, the poem begins with several oddities that suggest the speaker is saying more than what he seems to say initially. For example, the poem is an Italian sonnet and follows the abbaabbacdcdcd rhyme scheme. The fact that the poet chooses to write a sonnet about London in an Italian form suggests that what he says may not be actually praising the city. Also, the rhetoric of the first two lines seems awkward compared to a normal speaking voice: “Earth has not anything to show more fair. / Dull would he be of soul who could pass by” (1-2). The odd syntax continues when the poet personifies the city: “This City now doth, like a garment, wear / The beauty of the morning” (4-5). Here, the city wears the morning’s beauty, so it is not the city but the morning that is beautiful …

The conclusion

The explication has no formal concluding paragraph; do not simply restate the main points of the introduction! The end of the explication should focus on sound effects or visual patterns as the final element of asserting an explanation. Or, as does the undergraduate here, the writer may choose simply to stop writing when he or she reaches the end of the poem:

The poem ends with a vague statement: “And all that mighty heart is lying still!” In this line, the city’s heart could be dead, or it could be simply deceiving the one observing the scene. In this way, the poet reinforces the conflict between the appearance of the city in the morning and what such a scene and his words actually reveal.

Tips to keep in mind

Refer to the speaking voice in the poem as the “speaker” or “the poet.” For example, do not write, “In this poem, Wordsworth says that London is beautiful in the morning.” However, you can write,

“In this poem, Wordsworth presents a speaker who…”

We cannot absolutely identify Wordsworth with the speaker of the poem, so it is more accurate to talk about “the speaker” or “the poet” in an explication.

Use the present tense when writing the explication. The poem, as a work of literature, continues to exist!

To avoid unnecessary uses of the verb “to be” in your compositions, the following list suggests some verbs you can use when writing the explication:

An example of an explication written for a timed exam

The Fountain

Fountain, fountain, what do you say Singing at night alone? “It is enough to rise and fall Here in my basin of stone.” But are you content as you seem to be So near the freedom and rush of the sea? “I have listened all night to its laboring sound, It heaves and sags, as the moon runs round; Ocean and fountain, shadow and tree, Nothing escapes, nothing is free.”

—Sara Teasdale (American, 1884-1933)

As a direct address to an inanimate object “The Fountain” presents three main conflicts concerning the appearance to the observer and the reality in the poem. First, since the speaker addresses an object usually considered voiceless, the reader may abandon his/her normal perception of the fountain and enter the poet’s imaginative address. Secondly, the speaker not only addresses the fountain but asserts that it speaks and sings, personifying the object with vocal abilities. These acts imply that, not only can the fountain speak in a musical form, but the fountain also has the ability to present some particular meaning (“what do you say” (1)). Finally, the poet gives the fountain a voice to say that its perpetual motion (rising and falling) is “enough” to maintain its sense of existence. This final personification fully dramatizes the conflict between the fountain’s appearance and the poem’s statement of reality by giving the object intelligence and voice.

The first strophe, four lines of alternating 4- and 3-foot lines, takes the form of a ballad stanza. In this way, the poem begins by suggesting that it will be story that will perhaps teach a certain lesson. The opening trochees and repetition stress the address to the fountain, and the iamb which ends line 1 and the trochee that begins line 2 stress the actions of the fountain itself. The response of the fountain illustrates its own rise and fall in the iambic line 3, and the rhyme of “alone” and “stone” emphasizes that the fountain is really a physical object, even though it can speak in this poem.

The second strophe expands the conflicts as the speaker questions the fountain. The first couplet connects the rhyming words “be” and “sea” these connections stress the question, “Is the fountain content when it exists so close to a large, open body of water like the ocean?” The fountain responds to the tempting “rush of the sea” with much wisdom (6). The fountain’s reply posits the sea as “laboring” versus the speaker’s assertion of its freedom; the sea becomes characterized by heavily accented “heaves and sags” and not open rushing (7, 8). In this way, the fountain suggests that the sea’s waters may be described in images of labor, work, and fatigue; governed by the moon, these waters are not free at all. The “as” of line 8 becomes a key word, illustrating that the sea’s waters are not free but commanded by the moon, which is itself governed by gravity in its orbit around Earth. Since the moon, an object far away in the heavens, controls the ocean, the sea cannot be free as the speaker asserts.

The poet reveals the fountain’s intelligence in rhyming couplets which present closed-in, epigrammatic statements. These couplets draw attention to the contained nature of the all objects in the poem, and they draw attention to the final line’s lesson. This last line works on several levels to address the poem’s conflicts. First, the line refers to the fountain itself; in this final rhymed couplet is the illustration of the water’s perpetual motion in the fountain, its continually recycled movement rising and falling. Second, the line refers to the ocean; in this respect the water cannot escape its boundary or control its own motions. The ocean itself is trapped between landmasses and is controlled by a distant object’s gravitational pull. Finally, the line addresses the speaker, leaving him/her with an overriding sense of fate and fallacy. The fallacy here is that the fountain presents this wisdom of reality to defy the speaker’s original idea that the fountain and the ocean appear to be trapped and free. Also, the direct statement of the last line certainly addresses the human speaker as well as the human reader. This statement implies that we are all trapped or controlled by some remote object or entity. At the same time, the assertion that “Nothing escapes” reflects the limitations of life in the world and the death that no person can escape. Our own thoughts are restricted by our mortality as well as by our limits of relying on appearances. By personifying a voiceless object, the poem presents a different perception of reality, placing the reader in the same position of the speaker and inviting the reader to question the conflict between appearance and reality, between what we see and what we can know.

Suggestions for improvement

The writer observes and presents many of the most salient points of the short poem, but she could indeed organize the explication more coherently. To improve this explication, the writer could focus more on the speaker’s state of mind. In this way, the writer could explore the implications of the dramatic situation even further: why does the speaker ask a question of a mute object? With this line of thought, the writer could also examine more closely the speaker’s movement from perplexity (I am trapped but the waters are free) to a kind of resolution (the fountain and the sea are as trapped as I am). Finally, the writer could include a more detailed consideration of rhythm, meter, and rhyme.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Find Original Poetry Hiding in the Pages of Your Paper

Creating an erasure poem means finding your voice lurking in another’s words. It can be a way to start writing when words fail.

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writing poetry on paper

By E. Kristin Anderson

The past year has been difficult for many people. The pandemic, the politics, the job loss and the isolation — most Americans have had to find some new coping mechanisms to make it through. Here’s one: erasure poetry.

Creativity can be healing in difficult times, but it’s not always easy to tap into those creative juices. Sometimes you’re just too overwhelmed and exhausted to write or create. In those times, turning to found poetry — a style of poetry in which you write something new using only what you can find in an existing text — can help.

Sometimes when it’s hard to write, that constraint gives you a place to start. It’s a bit like a painter working with a limited palette: You have both a solid foundation from which to begin your poem, and the challenge to create something using only what you have in front of you. And even if you’re having difficulty writing traditionally constructed poetry, the medium of found poetry can let you gain access to a vocabulary you didn’t know you needed.

Among the forms of found poetry is erasure. The writer finds something new to say in an existing text; in this case, an article from The Times. Blackout poetry is a style of erasure that eliminates the words around a poem you’ve found within the text to present both a piece of literature and a stark image of that literature on the same page.

You may be wondering: Am I really writing a poem if I’m using someone else’s work to start? Yes! Writing a good found poem — and in this case, an erasure — requires the poet to intervene on the source text. This means that your poem will say something different than the source text. It will be representative of your voice and your narrative.

The rules are fairly simple: In an erasure, you can only use the words that appear in the article you’ve chosen, and you have to use them in the order they appear. How you erase the words around your poem is up to you. Here’s how to do it.

Choose your materials.

How will you erase? Do you want to use Wite-Out? A marker? Glitter? Maybe you’ll try some collage. The erasure in the poem above was done using a Sakura Gelly Roll pen.

Find an article.

You might choose an article that gives you strong feelings — joy, anger or sadness. Or you might choose an article that you can’t relate to at all. Both are great places to start. Once you’ve read the article, you can begin to identify words and phrases that you find interesting or that resonate with you, regardless of the context of the piece. Try to find at least one interesting or strong word that you can build the poem around.

The poem above was written using Marcus Westberg’s article “Crisp, Quiet and Still: A Wintry Swedish Wonderland,” from the Jan. 10 print edition of The Times. It’s important that your voice speaks in your poem, and not that of the original writer — an erasure poem shouldn’t summarize the material it’s created from. It should say something new. So while Mr. Westberg’s article is about pandemic travel in Sweden, the poem is about the elusiveness of new beginnings.

Prepare your draft.

Before you go in with that Sharpie or Wite-Out, you may want to outline the words you intend to keep with a pencil. You can also make a few copies of your article so that you can practice or experiment marking up the page from the original newspaper page you’re using.

When you’re ready, erase all of the words other than the ones in your poem using your medium of choice.

End result?

You’ve written a poem. And maybe — just maybe — it helped you feel a little less stressed today. Cite your sources, and then go ahead and share your poem with friends. Maybe you’ll find more erasure poets in your midst, a small clan of sneaky writers with whom to exchange your creations.

Writing About Poetry

View in pdf format, get to know the poem.

Describe the poem: Before you begin to organize your essay, read the poem aloud several times, noting its structure, meter, recurring images or themes, rhyme scheme – anything and everything which creates an effect. Paraphrase the poem: Again, before you begin to organize your essay, make sure you understand the language of the poem. Poetry, particularly from other time periods, often contains confusing syntax or vocabulary. Put into your own words those lines or phrases which are especially difficult. Resist the temptation to brush over the lines or phrases which seem unintelligible; these can be the most crucial parts of the poem. The Oxford English Dictionary is a good resource for defining difficult vocabulary.

How the Poem Works

Analyze the poem: Since your analysis should make up the bulk of your essay, approach it with care. Knowing that you will not be able to address every aspect of the poem, select the elements which work together to create special effects. Look beyond the surface meaning of the words and start to think about how the techniques used in the poem add depth to its meaning. How do the elements work together? Do they complement each other, do they create tension, or both? Think in terms of cause and effect and look for relationships within the poem itself. For example, if you see a pattern of imagery which suggests something about the speaker, look at other areas of the poem for more evidence along the same lines. In poetry, form and content are inseparable, so you must not overlook the relationship between what the speaker says and how he or she says it.

Interpret the poem: Using your analysis of how the poem works as your evidence, interpret the poem – answer the question, "So what is this poem all about?" In the interpretation, you bring together your analysis of the elements in the poem and show what they mean to the poem as a whole. You may suggest an interpretation of the speaker's state of mind, the poem's subject, or the nature of the experience which the poem creates. For example, does Poe's "The Raven" describe a dream? A drug-induced hallucination? A recollection? Why do you think so? What evidence, from your analysis, supports your idea? The main argument of your paper should begin to take form as you struggle with this process.

You have great freedom in interpreting a poem, provided that your assertions are solidly linked to your evidence. Interpretation that does not align with your analysis will be invalid. In the words of M. H. Abrams, editor of the Norton Anthology of Poetry , "There is no one, right interpretation of a poem – but there is one which is more right than any of the others."

The multi-faceted nature of poetry demands that you know where you are going before you begin to construct your written argument, which is why the description and paraphrase stages are so important. Your selective analysis emerges from them in the form of an argument that is limited to a manageable set of ideas. After you have thought through these stages and taken good notes, you should be ready to begin writing your essay.

Constructing Your Paper

Thesis: Review your notes. Look for patterns and themes. Formulate a thesis statement that will allow you to explain the relationships and the effects of elements in the poem. If you can, indicate in the thesis the areas or features of the poem important to your argument (a pattern of imagery, for instance, or a series of crucial lines). Remember, your thesis statement must argue a point; instead of simply saying that a poet uses certain poetic devices, you must give some indication in your thesis as to how those devices work and what they do to the poem's meaning. You do not need to go into elaborate detail in your thesis, but do show the relationship between the poem and your argument.

Introduction

Your first paragraph should make your reader comfortable with the poem by identifying the poet, offering a brief, general description of the poem and, most importantly, leading into the thesis and development of the argument by narrowing and limiting the subject. It may be helpful to imagine the introduction as a funnel, initially appealing to your reader from a wide perspective and then swiftly directing him or her into the body of your essay. Avoid sweeping, abstract statements or statements which you cannot concretely link to your thesis. The more quickly you get away from the general and focus on the specific, the sooner you will engage your reader.

The Development of Your Argument

The approach you undertake in your thesis determines the organization of the rest of the essay. Some arguments lend themselves to a linear presentation. For example, if you choose to trace the development of the speaker according to the recurrence of an image throughout the poem, you might want to go through the poem chronologically to show how that image changes in significance from line to line or stanza to stanza. You need not limit yourself to such a presentation, however. Many poems are difficult to explain chronologically; some poems are better suited to a non-linear argument which reflects cycles or other patterns in the poem. If you organize your argument according to the patterns you choose to address, your argument might move through the poem several times, according to the instances of the images and their contextual significance. For example, one word may have a formal relationship to numerous other words in the poem. The word "snow" has a relationship to the word "flow" in that they rhyme, and to the word "ice" in that they are both associated with winter. To discuss the significance of these relationships, you may find yourself jumping around the poem. That's fine, as long as you make your argument clear and keep your thesis in sight.

Each paragraph should consist of a point which is credible, relevant to your thesis, and analytical. Remember that you are arguing for a certain position and need to convince your reader of that position. At the beginning of each paragraph, tell your reader the focus of your argument in that paragraph by starting with a topic sentence. The rest of the paragraph should address the assertion with convincing evidence. The effectiveness of your argument depends heavily on how well you incorporate evidence into your paragraphs.

Using Evidence

You cannot create a compelling argument without evidence to back it up, but you must present that evidence in the context of your own argument. Merely including a line or a passage in your paper without linking it to your argument will not be convincing. Try incorporating your evidence into a "sandwich" of information which will allow your reader to receive the full impact of the lines. Before the quotation, describe the evidence in terms of the poem. Where is it located in the poem? Is it part of a pattern? Let your reader know what he or she should be looking for. After the quotation, if the passage is particularly difficult to understand, you should explain problematic syntax or vocabulary. Then, you must analyze the quote and show how that quote supports the claims you are making in your thesis. This is the most important part of your paper; it is where you make your interpretation clear to the reader and where you prove your thesis. Don't assume that the quotation will speak for itself—it is your job to explain it.

Be sure to cite your evidence properly. Citing from a poem is different from citing from a prose text. Because the line form of poetry is so important, you must indicate where lines end by separating them with a slash mark "/". If you are quoting more than three lines, single space the passage, indent, and present the passage as it appears in the poem. Follow the quotation with the appropriate line numbers enclosed in parentheses (see English Department handout on use of quotations and citations, available from the department office and the Writing Center).

The Conclusion

Conclusions take many forms. In your conclusion you can emphasize crucial ideas, raise questions about the poem, or connect the poem to other literary works or experiences. This is where you can offer your interpretation of the poem, which by now should be convincing to your reader since you have presented your evidence in the body of the paper. You may raise new ideas in a conclusion, provided that they are solidly linked to the development of your argument. Remember, you have flexibility, but your conclusion should flow naturally from the body of your paper.

Final Thoughts

  • If you have the choice of which poem to write about, pick one you like.
  • Read the poem aloud. Your ear will notice things your eyes miss.
  • Notice the way the poem looks on the page. The form of the poem may reveal something about the way it works.
  • Be careful to make a clear distinction between the poet and the speaker. Even in poems that are written in the first person, you should be careful not to assume anything about the speaker that the poem itself does not suggest.
  • Let your interpretation follow your analysis – avoid making unsupported assertions.
  • Be selective with your evidence. Limit the length of your quotations to a workable size. Passages longer than a few lines will be impossible to explain in a single paragraph.

Enjoy the Poem!

Poems are artistic expressions that demand that you appreciate them before you begin to reduce them to something explainable. Often, the most brilliant elements in a poem are very subtle and will be felt before they are understood. Remember, you are not just explaining what a poem does, you are explaining what it does to you. You are the medium in which the poem comes to life. Writing about poetry offers you a special opportunity to interact with a work of art.

by Seth DuCharme '92

Office / Department Name

Nesbitt-Johnston Writing Center

Contact Name

Jennifer Ambrose

Writing Center Director

Because Hamilton - Help Change Lives

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  • Writing Poetry

How to Write a Poem

Last Updated: January 12, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 7,052,395 times.

Writing a poem is about observing the world within or around you. A poem can be about anything, from love to loss to the rusty gate at the old farm. Writing poetry can seem daunting, especially if you do not feel you are naturally or bursting with poetic ideas. With the right inspiration and approach, you can write a poem that you can be proud to share with others in the class or with your friends.

Sample Poems

writing poetry on paper

Starting the Poem

Step 1 Do writing exercises.

Brainstorming for Ideas Try a free write. Grab a notebook or your computer and just start writing—about your day, your feelings, or how you don’t know what to write about. Let your mind wander for 5-10 minutes and see what you can come up with. Write to a prompt. Look up poem prompts online or come up with your own, like “what water feels like” or “how it feels to get bad news.” Write down whatever comes to mind and see where it takes you. Make a list or mind map of images. Think about a situation that’s full of emotion for you and write down a list of images or ideas that you associate with it. You could also write about something you see right in front of you, or take a walk and note down things you see.

Step 2 Get inspired by your environment and those close to you.

Finding a Topic Go for a walk. Head to your favorite park or spot in the city, or just take a walk through your neighborhood. Use the people you see and nature and buildings you pass as inspiration for a poem. Write about someone you care about. Think about someone who’s really important to you, like a parent or your best friend. Recall a special moment you shared with them and use it to form a poem that shows that you care about them. Pick a memory you have strong feelings about. Close your eyes, clear your head, and see what memories come to the forefront of your mind. Pay attention to what emotions they bring up for you—positive or negative—and probe into those. Strong emotional moments make for beautiful, interesting poems.

Step 3 Pick a specific theme or idea.

  • For example, you may decide to write a poem around the theme of “love and friendship.” You may then think about specific moments in your life where you experienced love and friendship as well as how you would characterize love and friendship based on your relationships with others.
  • Try to be specific when you choose a theme or idea, as this can help your poem feel less vague or unclear. For example, rather than choosing the general theme of “loss,” you may choose the more specific theme, such as “loss of a child” or “loss of a best friend.”

Step 4 Choose a poetic form.

  • You may decide to try a poetic form that is short, such as the haiku , the cinquain , or the shape poem. You could then play around with the poetic form and have fun with the challenges of a particular form. Try rearranging words to make your poem sound interesting.
  • You may opt for a form that is more funny and playful, such as the limerick form, if you are trying to write a funny poem. Or you may go for a more lyrical form like the sonnet , the ballad , or the rhyming couplet for a poem that is more dramatic and romantic.

Step 5 Read examples of poetry.

  • “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge [4] X Research source
  • “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman [5] X Research source
  • “I measure every Grief I meet” by Emily Dickinson [6] X Research source
  • “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare [7] X Research source
  • “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop [8] X Research source
  • “Night Funeral in Harlem” by Langston Hughes [9] X Research source
  • “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams [10] X Research source

Writing the Poem

Step 1 Use concrete imagery.

  • For example, rather than try to describe a feeling or image with abstract words, use concrete words instead. Rather than write, “I felt happy,” you may use concrete words to create a concrete image, such as, “My smile lit up the room like wildfire.”

Step 2 Include literary devices.

Try a New Literary Device Metaphor: This device compares one thing to another in a surprising way. A metaphor is a great way to add unique imagery and create an interesting tone. Example: “I was a bird on a wire, trying not to look down.” Simile: Similes compare two things using “like” or “as.” They might seem interchangeable with metaphors, but both create a different flow and rhythm you can play with. Example: “She was as alone as a crow in a field,” or “My heart is like an empty stage.” Personification: If you personify an object or idea, you’re describing it by using human qualities or attributes. This can clear up abstract ideas or images that are hard to visualize. Example: “The wind breathed in the night.” Alliteration: Alliteration occurs when you use words in quick succession that begin with the same letter. This is a great tool if you want to play with the way your poem sounds. Example: “Lucy let her luck linger.”

Step 3 Write for the ear.

  • For example, you may notice how the word “glow” sounds compared to the word “glitter.” “Glow” has an “ow” sound, which conjures an image of warmth and softness to the listener. The word “glitter” is two syllables and has a more pronounced “tt” sound. This word creates a sharper, more rhythmic sound for the listener.

Step 4 Avoid cliche.

  • For example, you may notice you have used the cliche, “she was as busy as a bee” to describe a person in your poem. You may replace this cliche with a more unique phrase, such as “her hands were always occupied” or “she moved through the kitchen at a frantic pace.”

Polishing the Poem

Step 1 Read the poem out loud.

  • You may also read the poem out loud to others, such as friends, family, or a partner. Have them respond to the poem on the initial listen and notice if they seem confused or unclear about certain phrases or lines.

Step 2 Get feedback from others.

  • You may go over the poem with a fine-tooth comb and remove any cliches or familiar phrases. You should also make sure spelling and grammar in the poem are correct.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Reader Videos

  • Brainstorm big things in your life and how they have impacted you. For example, if you write about how someone you know died, the tone of the poem could be the great sadness and loss you feel deep down and how it feels like a piece of you is missing. Thanks Helpful 17 Not Helpful 1
  • Think about what really matters in your life. It can give you ideas when you think about the people and places you love. You can write a poem in the form of the struggles in your life or the dangers you have had to face. You can also write a poem about happiness someone or something has brought to your life. Remember, what you write about should set the mood of your poem. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 4

writing poetry on paper

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  • ↑ https://www.edutopia.org/article/every-student-can-be-poet/
  • ↑ https://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/poetry-writing-tips-h
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-empowerment-diary/201604/the-secret-writing-transformative-poetry
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/readingpoetry/
  • ↑ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45477/song-of-myself-1892-version
  • ↑ https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/i-measure-every-grief-i-meet-561
  • ↑ https://poets.org/poem/shall-i-compare-thee-summers-day-sonnet-18
  • ↑ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47536/one-art
  • ↑ https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/night-funeral-harlem
  • ↑ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45502/the-red-wheelbarrow
  • ↑ https://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/poetry-writing-tips-how-to-write-a-poem/
  • ↑ https://www.literacymn.org/sites/default/files/learning_center_docs/metaphors_and_similes.pdf
  • ↑ https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1266002.pdf
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/poetry-explications/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709796/
  • ↑ https://milnepublishing.geneseo.edu/naming-the-unnameable/chapter/chapter-eight-revision/

About This Article

Alicia Cook

Writing a poem can seem intimidating at first, but with a little patience and inspiration, you can produce a beautiful work of written art. If you’re not sure what to write about, spend a few minutes jotting down whatever thoughts come into your head. Think about your feelings, your experiences and memories, people in your life, or things that you sense in your environment and see if any of those things inspire you. You can also try working from writing prompts. Once you’ve done some free writing, look for themes and ideas in what you’ve written, and choose one that feels inspiring to you. Common themes include things like love, loss, family, or nature. After you choose a theme, think about how you’d like to structure the poem. For example, you might stick to a traditional format, such as a limerick, haiku, or quatrain. If you’d rather not feel constrained by rhymes or meter, consider writing a free verse poem and simply let the words flow in whatever way feels right. You can also read poems by other authors to get ideas and inspiration. When you’re writing the poem, look for ways to express your thoughts using powerful, sensory language. For example, instead of saying something like “I felt happy,” try using a colorful simile, like “My heart soared like a bird set free.” As you’re writing, also think about how the poem will sound when read out loud. Try reading it to yourself or a friend to see if it’s pleasing to the ear. If a word or phrase doesn’t flow the way you like, replace it with something else that has a similar meaning. You might not be satisfied with the first draft of your poem, and that’s totally okay. Read it to yourself, get feedback from friends, teachers, or other people you trust, and keep revising until you feel like you’ve created a poem that really captures the feelings you’re trying to convey. For help choosing a structure for your poem, like a haiku, limerick, or sonnet, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Home / Book Writing / How to Write a Poem: Definition, Tips, and How to Publish

How to Write a Poem: Definition, Tips, and How to Publish

Poem writing is a special kind of magic that can really get your creativity flowing. Whether you want to publish a book of poems, enter a poetry contest, or just express your emotions through words on the page, you must first understand what poetry is and isn't. And that's exactly what I'll cover in this article on how to write a poem. 

  • What poetry is.
  • Different types of poetry.
  • How to start writing your own poems.

Table of contents

  • Poetry is a Broad Term
  • Structure and Form
  • Sound and Flow 
  • Different Types of Poems
  • Read Poetry Before You Write Poetry
  • Decide on a Form
  • Decide on a Theme
  • Remember Literary Devices
  • Put Pen to Paper
  • Make Use of Line Breaks
  • Edit and Rewrite
  • Publish Your Collected Poems
  • How to Write a Poem: Conclusion

What is Poetry?

Asking what poetry is is like asking what fiction is. There are so many different types of fiction that explore every aspect of humanity. Poetry is very much the same. You could write an entire book on the question of what poetry is (and people have). 

But for the purposes of this article, we'll go with a simple definition. Poetry is the aesthetic use of language to evoke emotion in the reader (or listener).  

Poetry can tell a story just as clearly as other forms of creative writing . It can evoke feeling through figurative language and imagery or word use alone, without the help of the logic underpinning those words. It can be straightforward or seemingly nonsensical. 

Writing poetry can be akin to a science or a free-for-all, depending on how you prefer to go about it. And like all art, good poetry is in the eye of the beholder. 

And given that there's something called free verse poetry, that definition is really all you need if you want to start writing now. That's one of the beautiful things about poetry; it doesn't have to be anything specific.  

It doesn't even have to rhyme. It can be whatever you write on the page.

But free verse poetry has only been around for a relatively short period in human history. If you want to get to the roots of what poetry really is in all its many facets, there are some things you first need to understand. 

Characteristics of Poetry

Poetry is as much about the sound of the words (whether said out loud or in your head) as it is about the words themselves. Poetry uses words to craft images in the reader's mind, to express ideas, and to explore what it means to be human.  

But it doesn't just do this through the words and their apparent face value. It does this through many different characteristics. The most common are as follows. 

Unlike free verse poetry, there are certain structures that are common in different kinds of poetry. These kinds of limitations can really help you get creative by searching for the exact right words with the right sounds, helping you put them in the right order. 

For example, a haiku is a form of three-line poetry that uses the five-seven-five syllable configuration.

Epic poetry tells the story of a hero going on a journey . Homer's The Odyssey is the most famous example of epic poetry. 

Acrostic poetry is a kind in which the first and/or last letters of each line spell a message or word. 

We'll get into more detail with the different types below. This is just to illustrate that certain types of poetry have certain structures to be aware of.  

While I won't get too deep into the technical aspects of poetry, it is important to consider two important characteristics that are near-constants across many poems: Rhythm and rhyme. 

Rhythm refers to the cadence of the words and how they sound when spoken. Sometimes called meter and rhythm, this is how the syllables (stressed and unstressed) sound together. 

Certain poems have a marked rhythm that seems to carry you through, whether you're reading or hearing it read. 

Rhyme refers to the use of similar-sounding words throughout the poem. While many people think of this as ending every line or every other line with a rhyming word, there are many different types of rhyming. You can have a rhyming word at the beginning, middle, or end of your lines—or all of the above. 

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These are the different forms of poetry. If one of them jumps out at you and you'd like to try writing poems in that form, I advise you to do a little research on the structure and then start experimenting. 

Sonnet – These 14-line poems feature a specific rhyme scheme. William Shakespeare is well-known for his English sonnets. 

Limerick – These comedic poems are five lines long and feature a specific rhyme scheme. 

Villanelle – 19-line poems that make use of repetition and feature a specific rhyme scheme. 

Blank Verse – Poems that don't rhyme but have a rhythmic pattern. 

Concrete – Concrete poetry arranges words and lines in such a way as to create an image of them that's related to the topic or theme.

Prose – These are poems only in the sense that they evoke emotion through imagery, but they are not written in verse. 

Lyric –  Unlike a narrative poem, these types of poems don't tell a story but instead focus on emotional feelings. 

Haiku – A form of three-line poetry that uses the five-seven-five syllable configuration.

Epic Poems – These tell the story of a hero going on a journey. They're essentially long stories in poem form.  

Acrostic Poems – An acrostic poem is one in which the first and/or last letters of each line spell a message or word. 

Free Verse – Free verse is just what it sounds like. There are no rules and no specific poetry form you have to stick to. It can tell a story or use more abstract words to describe an emotion or feeling. 

There are many other types of poems. You can look up a list of all the different kinds if none of these strike your fancy. 

Reading poetry is the best way to familiarize yourself with poetic form and the different kinds of poetry. Here are just a few resources to get you started. 

  • John Keats: The Complete Poems
  • The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou
  • 100 Selected Poems by E. E. Cummings
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver
  • The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Shakespeare's Sonnets
  • A Collection of Poems by Robert Frost
  • Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

How to Write a Poem

While the mechanics of writing poetry will vary depending on the form you choose, the tips below should help get you started no matter what kind of poem you're hoping to write. 

Most new poets like to start with free verse poetry because it's less restrictive than other forms. However, if you have a specific kind of form you'd like to stick to, I recommend reading and researching other poems in that form before you start reading.  

Pay close attention to the poems that resonate with you. And do some research on the specifics of the form in question. 

Once you decide on a form and want to give it a go, follow the steps below. 

A theme is the idea or inspiration behind your poem. There's really no wrong theme, nothing that's off-limits in contemporary poetry. Much of the time, a poet will start with a strong emotion they want to explore. It could be love, heartache, rejection, joy, confusion, rage, or any other emotion. 

Remember that the point of poetry is to evoke emotion in the reader. And chances are, if you're feeling something, other people can identify with that feeling as well. The trick is finding the right words and putting them in the right order to evoke that emotion from the reader. 

Of course, when I say the “right” words in the “right” order, I'm speaking relatively . As the writer, you'll have to decide whether the words you choose are the right ones or not. Only when you're satisfied with the poem is it truly done. And most poetry writing begins with an emotion. 

The whole of the English language (or whatever language you choose to write in) is at your disposal. This includes literary devices used in other creative writing, such as metaphor, simile, irony, and hyperbole. 

Feel free to use a literary device or two in your poem. You may use a simile by saying a person you love is like a comfy sweater, always there to provide warmth and a sense of comfort when you need it. 

You may use hyperbole by saying that the sense of loss you feel is a death in itself. 

Keep these literary devices in mind as you start to write your poem. 

While you don't have to write with pen and paper, I think there's something about writing by hand that helps jumpstart the creative process. Plus, the paper and pen will come in handy later when you do your editing. 

So if you have a notebook that you can use as a poetry journal, I highly suggest using it to write and edit.  

With your form, idea, and possible literary devices in mind, it's time to get writing. Don't focus on choosing the “right” words at this point. Just let your subconscious take control. Write down whatever comes to mind and see where it takes you. Sometimes you have to get the wrong words out to find the right ones. 

This is your first draft. It's about solidifying what you want to say and how you want to say it. And remember that every good poem you've ever read has likely gone through multiple iterations before it was ready to be seen by others. 

Don't limit yourself to what you “think” poetry is or isn't. Let your creativity stretch as far as you like, and see what combination of words you can find to express the idea you're trying to get across. 

Remember that poetry is different from prose in its use of line breaks. In prose, the edge of the page is really the only thing dictating where one line ends. But in poetry, line breaks can be used as a tool to enhance the poem.  

When reading poetry, readers will naturally pause when they come to a line break, and you can use that pause to your advantage, adding depth to your poetry. 

If you want your poem to rhyme, adding similar-sounding words before the line breaks is a great way to do it. So even if none of the other words rhyme, you'll still have similar sounds at the end of each line (or every other line, or every third line, etc.). 

Not every line needs to end with a punctuation mark, either. If your line continues with a line break but without a punctuation mark of some kind, it's called an enjambed line . 

Conversely, end-stopped lines are those that end with a comma, colon, semi-colon, exclamation point, question mark, or period. 

You can also use line breaks and lines of different lengths to create an image from your poem, thereby adding more depth and meaning. 

As with any form of creative writing, your poetry writing will flourish with editing and rewriting. Great poetry rarely happens on the first try, so if you're not quite satisfied with your first draft, keep working at it. 

Even if you like what you've written, see if you can make it even better by choosing different words, rephrasing sections, changing line break locations, or omitting words. 

I suggest using pen and paper so you can make notes in the space around the poem . You can also use arrows if you want to put one stanza (the poem's version of a paragraph) above another or simply rearrange a line. 

Make use of a thesaurus to find different words that may fit better into the flow you've created in your poem. Then, once you've decided on all the changes you want to make, go to a fresh page and write the poem again with your changes in mind. 

Repeat this process until you've got a beautiful piece of modern poetry you'll either share with the world or keep for yourself. 

If you keep at it long enough, you may have a collection of poems you want to share with the world. If so, I recommend self-publishing them on Amazon . 

But before you publish, it's a good idea to do some research so you can put your poetry collection in front of customers who are actively searching for your kind of poetry. 

There are a lot of different poetry book categories on Amazon , so choosing the right one (along with the right keywords) can help your book show up in search results. 

Normally, determining this could take hours of mind-numbing research combing through Amazon. However, I've created a tool called Publisher Rocket for indie authors to save them time during the market research process. 

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Easy to use, and and full of amazing features, you can quickly turn your book into a professional book.

Not only can this tool help you research what categories are right for you, but it can also help you determine the best keywords for your book's metadata and keywords for Amazon ads (if you want to advertise your book of poetry). 

Check out Publisher Rocket here . 

Whether you aspire to be a famous poet or you simply want to try your hand at poetry writing, there's really no downside to this creative endeavor. And while I didn't cover all the poetic devices (there are books written on the subject), I hope the tips I did share above have given you what you need to start writing poetry today!

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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A Full Guide to Writing a Perfect Poem Analysis Essay

01 October, 2020

14 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

Poem analysis is one of the most complicated essay types. It requires the utmost creativity and dedication. Even those who regularly attend a literary class and have enough experience in poem analysis essay elaboration may face considerable difficulties while dealing with the particular poem. The given article aims to provide the detailed guidelines on how to write a poem analysis, elucidate the main principles of writing the essay of the given type, and share with you the handy tips that will help you get the highest score for your poetry analysis. In addition to developing analysis skills, you would be able to take advantage of the poetry analysis essay example to base your poetry analysis essay on, as well as learn how to find a way out in case you have no motivation and your creative assignment must be presented on time.

poem analysis

What Is a Poetry Analysis Essay?

A poetry analysis essay is a type of creative write-up that implies reviewing a poem from different perspectives by dealing with its structural, artistic, and functional pieces. Since the poetry expresses very complicated feelings that may have different meanings depending on the backgrounds of both author and reader, it would not be enough just to focus on the text of the poem you are going to analyze. Poetry has a lot more complex structure and cannot be considered without its special rhythm, images, as well as implied and obvious sense.

poetry analysis essay

While analyzing the poem, the students need to do in-depth research as to its content, taking into account the effect the poetry has or may have on the readers.

Preparing for the Poetry Analysis Writing

The process of preparation for the poem analysis essay writing is almost as important as writing itself. Without completing these stages, you may be at risk of failing your creative assignment. Learn them carefully to remember once and for good.

Thoroughly read the poem several times

The rereading of the poem assigned for analysis will help to catch its concepts and ideas. You will have a possibility to define the rhythm of the poem, its type, and list the techniques applied by the author.

While identifying the type of the poem, you need to define whether you are dealing with:

  • Lyric poem – the one that elucidates feelings, experiences, and the emotional state of the author. It is usually short and doesn’t contain any narration;
  • Limerick – consists of 5 lines, the first, second, and fifth of which rhyme with one another;
  • Sonnet – a poem consisting of 14 lines characterized by an iambic pentameter. William Shakespeare wrote sonnets which have made him famous;
  • Ode – 10-line poem aimed at praising someone or something;
  • Haiku – a short 3-line poem originated from Japan. It reflects the deep sense hidden behind the ordinary phenomena and events of the physical world;
  • Free-verse – poetry with no rhyme.

The type of the poem usually affects its structure and content, so it is important to be aware of all the recognized kinds to set a proper beginning to your poetry analysis.

Find out more about the poem background

Find as much information as possible about the author of the poem, the cultural background of the period it was written in, preludes to its creation, etc. All these data will help you get a better understanding of the poem’s sense and explain much to you in terms of the concepts the poem contains.

Define a subject matter of the poem

This is one of the most challenging tasks since as a rule, the subject matter of the poem isn’t clearly stated by the poets. They don’t want the readers to know immediately what their piece of writing is about and suggest everyone find something different between the lines.

What is the subject matter? In a nutshell, it is the main idea of the poem. Usually, a poem may have a couple of subjects, that is why it is important to list each of them.

In order to correctly identify the goals of a definite poem, you would need to dive into the in-depth research.

Check the historical background of the poetry. The author might have been inspired to write a poem based on some events that occurred in those times or people he met. The lines you analyze may be generated by his reaction to some epoch events. All this information can be easily found online.

Choose poem theories you will support

In the variety of ideas the poem may convey, it is important to stick to only several most important messages you think the author wanted to share with the readers. Each of the listed ideas must be supported by the corresponding evidence as proof of your opinion.

The poetry analysis essay format allows elaborating on several theses that have the most value and weight. Try to build your writing not only on the pure facts that are obvious from the context but also your emotions and feelings the analyzed lines provoke in you.

How to Choose a Poem to Analyze?

If you are free to choose the piece of writing you will base your poem analysis essay on, it is better to select the one you are already familiar with. This may be your favorite poem or one that you have read and analyzed before. In case you face difficulties choosing the subject area of a particular poem, then the best way will be to focus on the idea you feel most confident about. In such a way, you would be able to elaborate on the topic and describe it more precisely.

Now, when you are familiar with the notion of the poetry analysis essay, it’s high time to proceed to poem analysis essay outline. Follow the steps mentioned below to ensure a brilliant structure to your creative assignment.

Best Poem Analysis Essay Topics

  • Mother To Son Poem Analysis
  • We Real Cool Poem Analysis
  • Invictus Poem Analysis
  • Richard Cory Poem Analysis
  • Ozymandias Poem Analysis
  • Barbie Doll Poem Analysis
  • Caged Bird Poem Analysis
  • Ulysses Poem Analysis
  • Dover Beach Poem Analysis
  • Annabelle Lee Poem Analysis
  • Daddy Poem Analysis
  • The Raven Poem Analysis
  • The Second Coming Poem Analysis
  • Still I Rise Poem Analysis
  • If Poem Analysis
  • Fire And Ice Poem Analysis
  • My Papa’S Waltz Poem Analysis
  • Harlem Poem Analysis
  • Kubla Khan Poem Analysis
  • I Too Poem Analysis
  • The Juggler Poem Analysis
  • The Fish Poem Analysis
  • Jabberwocky Poem Analysis
  • Charge Of The Light Brigade Poem Analysis
  • The Road Not Taken Poem Analysis
  • Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus Poem Analysis
  • The History Teacher Poem Analysis
  • One Art Poem Analysis
  • The Wanderer Poem Analysis
  • We Wear The Mask Poem Analysis
  • There Will Come Soft Rains Poem Analysis
  • Digging Poem Analysis
  • The Highwayman Poem Analysis
  • The Tyger Poem Analysis
  • London Poem Analysis
  • Sympathy Poem Analysis
  • I Am Joaquin Poem Analysis
  • This Is Just To Say Poem Analysis
  • Sex Without Love Poem Analysis
  • Strange Fruit Poem Analysis
  • Dulce Et Decorum Est Poem Analysis
  • Emily Dickinson Poem Analysis
  • The Flea Poem Analysis
  • The Lamb Poem Analysis
  • Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Poem Analysis
  • My Last Duchess Poetry Analysis

Poem Analysis Essay Outline

As has already been stated, a poetry analysis essay is considered one of the most challenging tasks for the students. Despite the difficulties you may face while dealing with it, the structure of the given type of essay is quite simple. It consists of the introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion. In order to get a better understanding of the poem analysis essay structure, check the brief guidelines below.

Introduction

This will be the first section of your essay. The main purpose of the introductory paragraph is to give a reader an idea of what the essay is about and what theses it conveys. The introduction should start with the title of the essay and end with the thesis statement.

The main goal of the introduction is to make readers feel intrigued about the whole concept of the essay and serve as a hook to grab their attention. Include some interesting information about the author, the historical background of the poem, some poem trivia, etc. There is no need to make the introduction too extensive. On the contrary, it should be brief and logical.

Body Paragraphs

The body section should form the main part of poetry analysis. Make sure you have determined a clear focus for your analysis and are ready to elaborate on the main message and meaning of the poem. Mention the tone of the poetry, its speaker, try to describe the recipient of the poem’s idea. Don’t forget to identify the poetic devices and language the author uses to reach the main goals. Describe the imagery and symbolism of the poem, its sound and rhythm.

Try not to stick to too many ideas in your body section, since it may make your essay difficult to understand and too chaotic to perceive. Generalization, however, is also not welcomed. Try to be specific in the description of your perspective.

Make sure the transitions between your paragraphs are smooth and logical to make your essay flow coherent and easy to catch.

In a nutshell, the essay conclusion is a paraphrased thesis statement. Mention it again but in different words to remind the readers of the main purpose of your essay. Sum up the key claims and stress the most important information. The conclusion cannot contain any new ideas and should be used to create a strong impact on the reader. This is your last chance to share your opinion with the audience and convince them your essay is worth readers’ attention.

Problems with writing Your Poem Analysis Essay? Try our Essay Writer Service!

Poem Analysis Essay Examples 

A good poem analysis essay example may serve as a real magic wand to your creative assignment. You may take a look at the structure the other essay authors have used, follow their tone, and get a great share of inspiration and motivation.

Check several poetry analysis essay examples that may be of great assistance:

  • https://study.com/academy/lesson/poetry-analysis-essay-example-for-english-literature.html
  • https://www.slideshare.net/mariefincher/poetry-analysis-essay

Writing Tips for a Poetry Analysis Essay

If you read carefully all the instructions on how to write a poetry analysis essay provided above, you have probably realized that this is not the easiest assignment on Earth. However, you cannot fail and should try your best to present a brilliant essay to get the highest score. To make your life even easier, check these handy tips on how to analysis poetry with a few little steps.

  • In case you have a chance to choose a poem for analysis by yourself, try to focus on one you are familiar with, you are interested in, or your favorite one. The writing process will be smooth and easy in case you are working on the task you truly enjoy.
  • Before you proceed to the analysis itself, read the poem out loud to your colleague or just to yourself. It will help you find out some hidden details and senses that may result in new ideas.
  • Always check the meaning of words you don’t know. Poetry is quite a tricky phenomenon where a single word or phrase can completely change the meaning of the whole piece. 
  • Bother to double check if the conclusion of your essay is based on a single idea and is logically linked to the main body. Such an approach will demonstrate your certain focus and clearly elucidate your views. 
  • Read between the lines. Poetry is about senses and emotions – it rarely contains one clearly stated subject matter. Describe the hidden meanings and mention the feelings this has provoked in you. Try to elaborate a full picture that would be based on what is said and what is meant.

poetry analysis essay

Write a Poetry Analysis Essay with HandmadeWriting

You may have hundreds of reasons why you can’t write a brilliant poem analysis essay. In addition to the fact that it is one of the most complicated creative assignments, you can have some personal issues. It can be anything from lots of homework, a part-time job, personal problems, lack of time, or just the absence of motivation. In any case, your main task is not to let all these factors influence your reputation and grades. A perfect way out may be asking the real pros of essay writing for professional help.

There are a lot of benefits why you should refer to the professional writing agencies in case you are not in the mood for elaborating your poetry analysis essay. We will only state the most important ones:

  • You can be 100% sure your poem analysis essay will be completed brilliantly. All the research processes, outlines, structuring, editing, and proofreading will be performed instead of you. 
  • You will get an absolutely unique plagiarism-free piece of writing that deserves the highest score.
  • All the authors are extremely creative, talented, and simply in love with poetry. Just tell them what poetry you would like to build your analysis on and enjoy a smooth essay with the logical structure and amazing content.
  • Formatting will be done professionally and without any effort from your side. No need to waste your time on such a boring activity.

As you see, there are a lot of advantages to ordering your poetry analysis essay from HandmadeWriting . Having such a perfect essay example now will contribute to your inspiration and professional growth in future.

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writing poetry on paper

How to Write a Poetry Paper: 5 Important Tips

Paper Blazer 08/09/2019 Proofreading Leave a Comment

Need to write a poetry analysis paper?  Trying to understand a poem and write a paper for English class?

Here are some essential tips to get you started. Use these steps to write a good poetry analysis for your literature course.

  • Read the poem multiple times.  Some poems communicate a clear meaning on the first reading, but subsequent readings reveal further depth.  Other poems might be confusing on the first, or even second read, and require several readings.  Don’t be frustrated by this, since all readers reread poems.  Most poems are short or short enough to read more than once, so be sure to do that.
  • Interpret the meaning.  After reading the poem, ask yourself, “What does this mean?” This can be tricky for a number of reasons: (1) any art “experience” cannot be condensed to a proposition, and a poem provides an experience for the reader; (2) some poems communicate multiple messages — which can be thought of as “multivalent” meaning; (3) some people question whether there can be a single meaning.  That said, remember that authors always have a purpose, so as best you can, try to understand what that purpose is.
  • Look for the author’s strategy.  To analyze a poem, go beyond interpretation. See what techniques the author uses to communicate the meaning (which you determined in step 2). In other words, the author had a plan when writing, so your goal is to analyze that.  Ask yourself, “How does the  way in which this was written support  what is written?” To compare, this is like transitioning from “This is a tall house” to “This two-story house features a marble staircase, which was built by…” Dig in further to study the  how .
  • Find the rhymes.  Technically, a rhyme is a literary or poetic device — words that share similar ending sounds —  though we don’t often think of them in a technical sense.  When we think of poems, we often think of rhyming, since most poems include rhymes.  Be aware that poems usually have a rhyming scheme (e.g., A, B, A, B) so look for that.  Also be aware that some poems, especially modern poems, do not use any rhymes or instead use “slight rhymes” (words that kind of rhyme, but not in the most obvious way).
  • Repetition – a word, phrase, or idea appears more than once, usually in close proximity.
  • Alliteration – words that repeat the starting letter of surrounding words.
  • Simile – comparing things in terms of “like” or “as” (e.g., My friend dances like an angel.)
  • Metaphor – comparing two things in terms of “is” (e.g., An angel went dancing with me.”)
  • Hyperbole – exaggerating or overemphasizing an idea.
  • Assonance – repeating vowel sounds within words.
  • Personification – describing an inanimate thing or invisible idea in personal, human, or lifelike ways.

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Poetry & Poets

Explore the beauty of poetry – discover the poet within

How To Write A Poetry Research Paper

How To Write A Poetry Research Paper

Introduction

Writing a poetry research paper can be an intimidating task for students. Even for experienced writers, the process of writing a research paper on poetry can be daunting. However, there are a few helpful tips and guidelines that can help make the process easier. Writing a research paper on poetry requires the student to have an analytical understanding of the poet or poet’s work and to utilize multiple sources of evidence in order to make a convincing argument. Before starting the research paper, it is important to properly analyze the poem and to understand the form, structure, and language of the poem.

The process of writing a research paper requires numerous steps, beginning with researching the poet and poem. If a poet is unknown, the research process must be started by learning about their biography, other works, and their impact on society. With online databases, libraries, and archives the research process can move quickly. It is important to carefully document sources for later use when creating bibliographies for the paper. Once the process of researching the poem has been completed, the next step is to analyze the poem itself. It is important for the student to read the poem carefully in order to understand the meaning, as well as its tone, imagery, and metaphors. Furthermore, analyzing other poems by the same poet can help students observe patterns, trends, or elements of a poet’s work.

Outlining and Structure

Outlining the research paper is just as important as analyzing the poem itself. Many students make the mistake of not taking enough time to craft a detailed outline that follows the structure of the paper. An effective outline will make process of writing the research paper more efficient, allowing for ease of transitions between sections of the paper. When writing the paper, it is important to think through the structure of the paper and how to make a strong argument. Support for the argument should be based on concrete evidence, such as literary criticism, literary theory, and close readings of the poem. It is essential to have a clear argument that is consistent throughout the body of the paper.

Citing Sources

When writing a research paper it is also important to cite all sources that are used. The style used for citing sources will depend on the style guide indicated by the professor or the school’s guidelines. Whether using MLA, APA, or Chicago style, it is important to adhere to the style guide indicated in order to have a complete and well-written paper.

How To Write A Poetry Research Paper

Once the research and outlining is complete, the process of drafting a poetry research paper can begin. When constructing the first draft, it is especially useful to re-read the poem and to recall evidence that supports the argument made about the poem. Additionally, it is important to proofread and edit the first draft in order to make the argument more clear and to check for any grammar or spelling errors.

Writing a research paper on poetry does not have to be a difficult task. By taking the time to properly research, analyze, and structure the paper, the process of writing a successful poetry research paper becomes easier. Following these steps— researching the poet, understanding the poem itself, outlining the paper, citing sources, and drafting the paper— will ensure a great and thorough paper is prepared.

Using Imagery and Metaphor

The use of imagery and metaphor is an essential element when writing poetry. Imagery can be used to provide vivid descriptions of scenes and characters, while metaphor can be used to create deeper meanings and analogies. Understanding the use of imagery and metaphor can help to break down the poem and discover hidden meanings. Students researching poetry should pay special attentions to the poetic devices used to further the story or allusions to other works, such as classical mythology. Paying close attention to the language, metaphors, and imagery used by the poet can help to uncover the true meaning of the poem. By breaking down the element of the poem and focusing on individual elements, it is much easier to make valid conclusions about the poem and its author.

Understanding Rhyme and Meter

Rhyme and meter are two of the most important and complex elements of poetry. These two poetic techniques are used to help the poet structure their poem to provide rhythm and flow. Most commonly, rhyme and meter help to provide emphasis to certain words or phrases to give them additional meaning. When analyzing poetry, it is important to pay attention to the written rhyme schemes and meter of the poem. There are various patterns of rhyme, such as couplets, tercets, and quatrains. Meter, usually governed by iambs and trochees, can give the poem an added sense of rhythm to further emphasize certain words, phrases, or thoughts.

Exploring Themes

How To Write A Poetry Research Paper

Themes are the central ideas behind a poem. The themes of a poem can be subtle and can be found in the language and images used. Exploring the poem through a thematic analysis can help to identify the true meaning of the poem and the message that the poet is conveying. When researching a poem, it is important to identify the primary theme of the poem and to look for evidence in the poem that can be used to support the claim. By paying attention to the language of a poem, students can uncover the deeper meanings within the poem and can move past the literal interpretation of the poem.

Analyzing Discourse and Context

In addition to the written aspects of a poem, it is important to consider the historical and social context of the poem. The context of the poem can be used to further understand its deeper meanings and implications. Collingwood’s theory of re-enactment can be used to reconstruct the context of a poem in order to gain a deeper understanding of the poem. When researching a poem, it is important to consider the the time period in which the poem was written, the author’s other works, and the broader literary context of the poem. Examining the discourse used by the poet can help to uncover the true message of the poem and the impact on society at the time.

Finding Inspiration

When researching poetry, it is important for the student to find inspiration in the form of other authors, critics, and theorists. Studying the works of other authors can provide valuable insight into a poem and can inform the student’s own interpretations. In addition to studying critics and theorists, the student should also look to other poets and authors as sources of inspiration. The student can explore the works of similar poets or authors to learn how they use their poetic elements in their work. This can help students to gain insight into the language, imagery, and themes present in the poem being researched.

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Minnie Walters

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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“Thought a Rarity on Paper”

By Billy Collins

Read by the author.

Here I am thanking you for this fine copy of Jack Spicer’s posthumous “One Night Stand and Other Poems” (Grey Fox Press, 1980), introductions by Donald Allen and Robert Duncan.

It’s such a rare little bird, I was careful to purify my hands before sliding it out of its clear Mylar sleeve.

I was careful, too, when I turned the pages, but when Jesus began making out his will and Alice in Wonderland went missing from the chessboard, the book had to be restrained from taking flight and flapping its many wings against a window pane.

So now, the front cover is bent back a little like a clam with its shell slightly ajar the way Spicer’s mouth could look sometimes when we would see him at Gino and Carlo or in the park by the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, where he would often sit cross-legged under a shade tree.

There on hot summer afternoons he would suffer the company of young poets if they observed the courtesy of arriving with cold quart bottles of Rainier Ale, as green as the sports section of the paper.

It was a practice that my friend Tom and I and his friend A. B. Cole followed religiously. Spicer even called us “The Jesuits” for he knew where we had gone to school.

To be imperfectly truthful, I was intimidated by his reality— a lonely homosexual adult who dressed funnily in summery shirts and baggy pants, belt buckle to the side, his sad moon-face pocked as the moon itself, and with a name like a medieval vender’s.

He would talk about poetics, of which we knew nothing, and about the other Berkeley poets, but we poetry juniors felt more at home when he talked about Willie McCovey and we would be on to another still cold quart.

Then a forceful wind came off the Bay and blew Jack Spicer away, found a year later at 40 on the floor of an elevator going neither up nor down.

Later still, Tom would be blown over a golden bridge, his soft inner arm full of holes, and I sadly lost track of the sardonic Andy Cole.

And here I still remain, more than twice Spicer’s final age, rolling through the pages of his little book,

listening to his bewildering birds, and watching Beauty walk, not like a lake but among the coffee cups and soup tureens,

causing me to open my hands and allow this green aeronaut of paper to lift off and fly around my yellow house and beat its wings against glass as the thrilling sky continues to change slowly from blue to black then, miraculously, back to blue once more.

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See Inside a New 'Dune' Book Featuring Poetry by Star Josh Brolin (Exclusive)

Its pages, a few of which were shared exclusively with PEOPLE, feature candid moments between director Denis Villeneuve, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and more

Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty;Insight Editions

Just in time for Valentine's Day, actor and poet Josh Brolin has a new book out for Dune fans to add to their collection, Dune: Exposures .

The book, out today from Insight Editions, is a visual representation of the creative bond that formed between Director of Photography Greig Fraser and Josh Brolin, who plays Warmaster Gurney Halleck in Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two . The first installment of the sci-fi saga based on the book series by Frank Herbert hit theaters in 2021 and earned the film six Oscars. The second film comes out March 1.

Photos by Greig Fraser, Writing by Josh Brolin

According to a statement shared with PEOPLE, Dune: Exposures collects hundreds of "intimate, evocative photographs" taken by Fraser on the sets of Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two . The book is comprised of candid, unposed images taken by Fraser on set, accompanied by lyrical, poetic writing by Brolin.

Its pages, a few of which were shared exclusively with PEOPLE, feature candid moments between director Denis Villeneuve and cast members like Timothée Chalamet , Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and Javier Bardem .

"Stark shots of iconic characters immersed in their cinematic worlds share space with candid, unmannered photos of actors and craftspeople at work, all as Brolin’s spare, poetic writing weaves throughout," the publisher says. "Simply put, this book is as close as one can get to being on set."

Dune: Exposures will give fans of the film and Frank Herbert’s saga a peek behind the scenes of making the movie, perfect for film and photography aficionados.

For poetry fans, Brolin's words will bring the imagery to life. And for all readers, the publisher calls the book "a moving and interior chronicle of a fleetingly rare creative bond shared by two practitioners at the heights of their respective crafts."

The book joins Insight Editions’ previous Dune titles, Dune: Part One, The Photography ; The Art and Soul of Dune  and its sequel  The Art and Soul of Dune: Part Two .

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  1. Characteristics of Metaphysical Poetry Paper 101

  2. 5 Tips to Writing Poetry

  3. Essay Poetry Profile

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write Poetry: 11 Rules for Poetry Writing Beginners

    How to Write Poetry: 11 Rules for Poetry Writing Beginners Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 9, 2021 • 5 min read If you think you're ready to try your hand at writing poems, it may help to have some general parameters as guideposts.

  2. How to Write a Poem: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Although there aren't any hard and fast rules for writing poetry, there are some fundamental guidelines to keep in mind: Show, don't tell. The goal is to provoke an emotion in the reader. Less can be more. While it's perfectly acceptable to write long, flowery verse, using simple, concise language is also powerful.

  3. How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step

    1. Elements of Poetry: Rhythm. Traditionally, poets relied on rhyme and meter to accomplish a rhythmically sound poem. Free verse poems—which are poems that don't require a specific length, rhyme scheme, or meter—only became popular in the West in the 20th century, so while rhyme and meter aren't. Blue — "th" sounds.

  4. How To Write Poetry In A Paper

    1. Basic Rules of Poetry Writing 2. Consider Your Subject Matter 3. Select an Appropriate Form 4. Create a Metaphor 5. Avoid Structural Clichés 6. Edit Your Work 7. Publish Your Poem 8. Experiment with Different Poetry Techniques 9. Find Inspiration 10. Write with a Purpose 11. Exploring Different Literary Devices 12. Impact of Poetic Language 13.

  5. How to Write a Poetry Essay (Complete Guide)

    How to Write a Poetry Essay (Complete Guide) Unlock success in poetry essays with our comprehensive guide. Uncover the process to help aid understanding of how best to create a poetry essay.

  6. Writing About Poetry

    Most importantly, you should realize that a paper that you write about a poem or poems is an argument. Make sure that you have something specific that you want to say about the poem that you are discussing. This specific argument that you want to make about the poem will be your thesis.

  7. Your Guide To Writing Poetry As A Form Of Self-Care

    It's simultaneously easier than you think, and more confronting than you'd expect. If you also find solace in writing through your emotions, here's a guide to writing poetry for self-care. 1. Set up your writing area. If you'd prefer to write on the fly, go for it. For me to feel energized and supported by my writing, I need a clear ...

  8. The Best 5 Tips for Writing Poetry

    Poetry Tip 1: Decide Where to Start. Because poems are often split into chunks--at least, if you're using a more traditional form!-- you might find it helpful to start writing somewhere other than the beginning. For example, say you have a really pretty image of a sunset that you want to include in your poem.

  9. 4 Ways to Write Poetry for Beginners

    Try to write poetry for at least 10 minutes a day, or more if you have time. Write about anything that you are inspired by. [3] If you think you will forget to write, try setting an alarm on your phone or using a post-it note to remind you. 4. Keep a poetry journal with you to write when inspiration strikes.

  10. Poetry Writing: Invention

    The poem may start with this moment—a technique Hix calls "expository" (41). Alternatively, the poem may build up to that moment in a "cumulative" way, meaning the point falls at the end (41). Many writers begin a poem with an image and "write into" the synoptic moment; they don't know what that moment will be until they arrive ...

  11. Poetry Explications

    A poetry explication is a relatively short analysis which describes the possible meanings and relationships of the words, images, and other small units that make up a poem. Writing an explication is an effective way for a reader to connect a poem's subject matter with its structural features. This handout reviews some of the important ...

  12. Writing about Poetry: Questions and Answers

    Answer: A poetry paper is actually called an explication, or a close reading of a poem. It is a line-by-line commentary about what is happening there. However, when writing an explication, is it important to remember that it is more than just a long summary.

  13. Erasure Poetry At Home

    Creating an erasure poem means finding your voice lurking in another's words. It can be a way to start writing when words fail. The past year has been difficult for many people. The pandemic ...

  14. Writing Resources

    Describe the poem: Before you begin to organize your essay, read the poem aloud several times, noting its structure, meter, recurring images or themes, rhyme scheme - anything and everything which creates an effect. Paraphrase the poem: Again, before you begin to organize your essay, make sure you understand the language of the poem.

  15. How to Write a Poem: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

    1 Do writing exercises. A poem might start as a snippet of a verse, a line or two that seems to come out of nowhere, or an image you cannot get out of your head. You can find inspiration for your poem by doing writing exercises and using the world around you. Once you have inspiration, you can then shape and mould your thoughts into a poem. [1]

  16. How to Write a Poem: Definition, Tips, and How to Publish

    A theme is the idea or inspiration behind your poem. Much of the time, a poet will start with a strong emotion they want to explore. It could be love, heartache, rejection, joy, confusion, rage, or any other emotion. Remember that the point of poetry is to evoke emotion in the reader.

  17. A Full Guide to Writing a Perfect Poem Analysis Essay

    The given article aims to provide the detailed guidelines on how to write a poem analysis, elucidate the main principles of writing the essay of the given type, and share with you the handy tips that will help you get the highest score for your poetry analysis.

  18. Writing Poetry with English Language Learners

    Writing poetry is a great exercise for English language learners. It gives them a chance to experiment with language and vocabulary, and to freely share their ideas without the confinement of perfect grammar or firm structures. Many ELLs have also had rich life experiences that range from memories of their home culture to saying good-bye to ...

  19. Full article: The Uses of Poetry

    Like other forms of writing we value, it lends shape and meaning to our experiences and helps us to move confidently in the world we know and then to step beyond it. (From Teaching Poetry in the Secondary School: An HMI View, Department for Education and Science, 1987, quoted in Ofsted Citation 2007, 6)

  20. How to Write a Poetry Paper: 5 Important Tips

    How to Write a Poetry Paper: 5 Important Tips Paper Blazer 08/09/2019 Proofreading Leave a Comment Need to write a poetry analysis paper? Trying to understand a poem and write a paper for English class? Here are some essential tips to get you started. Use these steps to write a good poetry analysis for your literature course.

  21. How To Write A Poetry Research Paper

    1.Introduction 2.Research 3.Outlining and Structure 4.Citing Sources 5.Drafting 6.Conclusion 7.Using Imagery and Metaphor 8.Understanding Rhyme and Meter 9.Exploring Themes 10.Analyzing Discourse and Context 11.Finding Inspiration Writing a poetry research paper can be an intimidating task for students.

  22. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    provide when you are writing a paper. Here are some useful guidelines: o If you're writing a research paper, do not assume that your reader has read all the sources that you are writing about. You'll need to offer context about what those sources say so that your reader can understand why you have brought them into the conversation.

  23. PDF Writing About Poetry: Q and A

    A: A poetry paper is actually called an explication, or a close reading of a poem. It is a line-by-line commentary about what is happening there. However, when writing an explication, is it important to remember that it is more than just a long summary. Although you may have to summarize the poem in certain parts of your paper (like in the ...

  24. Results for poetry writing paper

    Poetry Writing Papers - Paper Choice Created by Sophia Stamas 18 different writing paper choices for poetry! Subjects: Creative Writing, Poetry, Writing Grades: Not Grade Specific Types: Activities, Printables $3.50 4.6 (14) PDF Add one to cart Poetry Writing Paper - Writing Workshop Created by Mr L's Classroom

  25. "Thought a Rarity on Paper," by Billy Collins

    Billy Collins, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry. His latest, " Musical Tables ," was published in 2022. Weekly

  26. See Inside a New 'Dune' Book Featuring Poetry by Star Josh Brolin

    Photos by Greig Fraser, Writing by Josh Brolin. For poetry fans, Brolin's words will bring the imagery to life. And for all readers, the publisher calls the book "a moving and interior chronicle ...

  27. lena on Instagram: "1000/10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #lettering #

    769 likes, 5 comments - allesorten on February 20, 2024: "1000/10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #lettering #texte #schreiben #gedicht #poetry #writing #art ..."