How To Write a Poem

So you've decided to write a love poem for your loved one. Or maybe you want to write a funny poem for a child. If you're stuck on where to start and your first line is "Roses are red....", you might benefit from a quick review of poetry writing skills. Follow these easy steps and you'll have a basic poem that you'll be happy to sign your name to.

  1. Decide on the style of poem you want to write. The most common types of poems are rhyming poems, including those where every two lines rhyme (AABB style), every other line rhymes (ABAB style), or every second line rhymes (ABCB style). You could also choose to write a free verse poem, which does not necessarily need to rhyme. For simplicity, stick with a rhyming poem.
  2. Read some poetry. Now that you know what type of poem you're going to write, it's always good to read what other poets are writing. It will give you an idea of proper formatting, and will also get you used to the flow of a poem.
  3. Decide on a topic. Every poem needs to tell a story, or at least discuss the same topic throughout. You might even want to brainstorm some of your ideas and when some points out on paper about what you'd like to say in your poem. This will be great to refer to during the writing process.
  4. Begin writing each verse. For this style of poem, there will be 4 lines per verse (you may think of a verse as a ‘poem paragraph'), and every second line will rhyme. You also need to note that every line of a rhyming poem is capitalized, and punctuation is used throughout just as you would if you were writing a normal sentence. Make note of the look and formatting of this 4-line verse:
    • Mary had a little lamb.
    • Its fleece was white as snow.
    • And everywhere that Mary went,
    • The lamb was sure to go.
As you can see, each line lines up at the margin, and each line begins with a capital regardless of where it is in the sentence. Also, since this is an ABCB style poem, the second and fourth lines rhyme (both referred to as B since they share the same ending sound). In terms of content, use lots of descriptive words and imagery. Be sure to save your strongest point for the very last line of your poem. End with a ‘bang', so to speak.

5. Say your poem out loud. Every poem has a sort of rhythm to it, a tempo that almost feels like a pulse when you read it. You'll need to read your poem out loud to make sure that your poem flows well, and has the same tempo throughout. The poem above has 4 beats per line - can you tell? If one line has 4 beats, and the next line has 7 beats, you need to revise your poem so that both lines are about the same length and share the same tempo.

6. Edit your poem. While you might think that your finished poem is a masterpiece, you will definitely need to re-read it to check for errors. There are often a few words that you can replace to make your poem sound even better. Double-check that you have included everything you wanted to say in your poem, and add more verses if you need to. Remember, there is no set length to a poem. It just needs to be consistent in style and formatting throughout. Think of a great title after you're done writing the poem, so you can be sure it suits it perfectly!

You've done it! You're a poet. You can impress your poem recipient even more by transferring your masterpiece to a nice piece of paper or presenting it in some other creative way. You'll win major brownies points from loved ones for this poem, that's for sure.


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