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What is a Poem?
To be fair, no one has the exact definition to the question above. Various poets just answer it as they wish and as is best felt. Thus poetry has different meaning to different people.
Poetry is the expression of thoughts, emotions, feels through infused words.
Infused words? This is because poetry takes the ordinary grammar and transcends into words with more meaning beneath face value.
The academic definition of poetry however is ‘any communication resembling poetry in beauty or the evocation of feeling’
How do you write a poem?
Have a message/Pick a topic
Poetry is just like music. You can write a poem on tanything you can think of.
Just as the musician can sing about his lover, a home, a person, a heart, the head and so on, so can a poet pen on these myriads of things and events.
Get clear on whatever you wish to write on – If it’s a nature poem; consider the alternatives: the sun, the moon, the sky, animals, a leaf.
Get clear on it.
You may choose (or not) to title your poem what your topic is.
Various poem writers get inspired to write poems through different things; some meditate, others listen to music (I do too.), some just get it at odd times e.g when taking a shower.
You need to understand yourself as a person to know what inspires you to write.
Also, inspiration for poetry might differ from others.
For example: When trying to write a poem on poverty, I might decide to take a tour to a miserable location nearby so I can get a feel and see what’s actually on with what I am about to talk about. It makes the work much more vivid and relatable to the reader (who obviously must’ve felt such emotions at some point or the other).
This does not in any way imply that one cannot write poetry on such topics without leaving their rooms. It is just a way to better connect the dots in the poem.
Some amazing ways to get inspired for poetry include
- watching a movie (you’ll be surprised at how magical it works)
- listening to music
- reading random words
- watching art works
- watching photographs of people and things
- roaming/drifting around
- visiting a location
Just begin anyhow
(Not fit for a procedural guideline now, is it?)
Too many budding/prospecting poets out there worry themselves so much with the technicalities of poetry.
They wonder about needless stuffs on how long a poem should be, how to write poetry that is outstanding, whether or not to learn poetry before they actually begin writing it etc. so much that they forget that poetry is all about the emotions.
Hitch: Obviously when you become better and aim for competitions and want to submit for blogs, this would not be same but just for now, this would do well enough.
I challenge you (right now) to write three lines of what you are feeling.
Mine would be:
poetry is hard on the soul
yet easy to hold.
We do hold death while alive.
Now this is just purely what I was thinking of while writing this article and has no poetic devices (not big-time ones).
The next procedure is not totally necessary if you just want to write a poem. The two above would do but if you want to write poetry and want to write much more interesting poems, then the next procedure is definitely for you.
Add Poetic Devices
What did I say about not worrying yourself about poetic devices? Eventually you will have to.
Why? Well, because you can’t be at beginner level forever. It’s just like informing an adult to eat Peak 2-3-4 (Peak product made for kids).
Poetic devices are the condiments that make your poems really poetic. (Yes, it’s an adjective too because it’s that powerful.)
The most common poetic devices used by many poets are
- alliteration: repetitions of a consonant at the beginning of words in a poem e.g.
Man made money
Money made man mad
- personification: the ascription of human attributes to a non-human like plants, woods e.g.
The rain flogged the boy as he tried to cross home
- allusion: poets use this device in referencing. People, occurrences and so on are referenced in poetry e.g
As wise as Solomon …
I want to walk on water …
- pun: a pun is a play on words. It is also known as paronomasia. It is a the humorous twist of words to achieve a poetic feeling. e.g
Staying homeless for seven days has made one weak …
- onomatopoeia: the use of words to denote sounds they imitate. e.g
the sheet rattles (sound of rain on sheets) …
the vrooming car imitates the sound a car makes when powered …
- imagery: the use of figurative expressions/language to evoke sensory experiences in the mind of the reader.
- rhetorical question: these are queries which are meant to be pondered upon rather than providing answers for. e.g
“Are you mad?”
- metaphor: a device used by poets to refer something that it does not literally denote as a eans to suggest a similarity between them. e.g
He broke my heart. (Can a heart be broken?)
- enjambment: this occurs in the situation whereby a line of poetry is incomplete (whether intentional or unintentionally by the poet) to be completed in the next. Poets usually hyphenate such lines to continue with the expression on the next line. It is also known as a run-on-line. e.g.
Today, I promise—
to love you like none other.
- antithesis: poets utilize this devices to place contrasting words (meaning and antonyms) side-by-side in a poem. It is usually done as a feeling to give the work a feeling of balance. e.g.
their intimate affair is now an open-secret,
even the dead know of it
- oxymoron: similar to antithesis in meaning. The difference between them is that oxymorons have gaps in them before the contrasts in poems. e.g,
The dead are also envious of the living
we all wish we had what we lost
You can find the comprehensive list of poetic devices in the post by Prep Scholar
After understanding poetic devices, the idea behind a great poem is to ensure you do not befuddle your readers so much that they find it extremely difficult to understand your poem.
Good poets always stay conscious of the fact that poetry is all about passing a message, and that won’t be possible anymore if readers are lost in the writer’s world and cannot seem to find their way back home to earth.
Learning Poetic Forms and Types
Understanding these various forms helps a poet work better and more efficiently. e.g some poets prefer to write freeverses, haikus while others prefer sonnets or limericks.
All of these are the various forms of poetry that a poet have an understanding of.
What next after writing your first poem?
After writing that first poem, a poet (yes, no more budding *haha) shouldn’t just let it on their drive or let the work sleep for a long time in their `; they should get the word out.
This way, not only do the poets get better in the art of writing poetry but also build an audience or a following for their creative works.
It is normal as a budding poet, to feel like you’re (your works are) not good enough to be appreciated by poetry readers but trust me they are. Also, the bliss in it is that you will remember the commencing poems in latter days and appreciate them more.
There definitely would be deafening critics and appalling commentators who inform to budding artists of this great art to quit poetry because they think they’re not good enough yet, but the more a poet stays persistent as a writer and continuous improves his poetry craft, so does the journey get more interesting.
If this resource has helped you on how to write poetry, I’d love to invite you to our Facebook community for poets; it is a hub for budding and made creatives to grow their audience as well as themselves as artists.
You can share you creative works in-house too.
Join our list of mail recipients.
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