How to write poetry: 5 essentials you need to know

how to write poetry,poems,verse,rhymes

Carolyn is currently promoting her latest book, The Moonsparrow Collection

Many HTWB readers have asked me to run more articles about poetry, and I want to learn more about it, too! Here we have US-based multi-published poet Carolyn Wolfe who has agreed to share her 5 key things to remember when starting to write poetry – some very valuable advice.

Over to Carolyn…

Greetings to all of you poets and bards out there!

The first thing I would like to do, before I give my advice, is to explain that when I write my poems for general readership, I write poetry in free verse.  This type of poetry does not have any particular rhythm or rhyme to it. 

The Wikipedia definition of free verse states:

“Free verse is an open form of poetry. It does not use consistent meter pattern, rhymes, or any other musical pattern. It thus tends to follow the rhythm of natural speech…”

I also write children’s stories in rhyme, in which I use a much more metered form of poetry. I also use alliteration to create a song-like cadence to the poems.

The Wikipedia definition of alliteration states:

“Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase. Alliteration developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in syllables that, according to the poems meter, are stressed …. As in James Thomson’s verse, “come…  dragging the lazy languid  line along.” Another example is “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers….”

Though I studied the craft of writing poetry in school, I am much more comfortable with free verse than with blank verse, (which uses iambic pentameterthink Shakespeare) or any other metered poetry forms. I am more of a free form poet.

Having explained all of this, I would like to give you now, the kind of advice that I wish I had been given, starting out as a young poet.

Five things to remember about writing poetry

1.When writing for the public, I find it is best to write a poem that is not so obscure, either in subject matter or in terms of the poet’s personal life, that it cannot be understood.

blog,writing,news.blogging,businessObscure poetry is meaningful to the individual, and should be written in a personal journal or used as a meditation, or perhaps as a catharsis. But the poetry that I have most enjoyed both reading and writing, was about taking the microcosm of a personal experience and transcending it into something universal. That creates a bond between you and the reader.

I also want to caution any poet that if you are in this craft to make a great deal of money, you may be in for a surprise. There are famous poets of course, but for many poets, you write for the love of the craft, you write to make a point, make a difference or just because you cannot imagine doing anything else.  If the money comes, then that is an added bonus!

2.There is a very big difference between poetry and prose.

Poetry is not story writing, it is not a memoir, it is not a paragraph listing a personal experience. Now, that is the easy part, saying what poetry is not. What poetry is, may be a little harder to explain.

Poetry is putting feelings into words; it is taking an experience and describing it in such a way that it evokes a visceral feeling in whoever reads your work. Whether it evokes joy, humor, sadness, or rage, it should produce an emotional response from the reader.

Poetry should make the heart sing, swoon, or weep, because it is a bit of the poet’s soul laid bare for the readers.

I would advise you to read from both modern and classical poets. See what moves you and what kind of poet you are. Do you like a specific form or do you want to write sonnets? Haiku? Or would you rather write in free verse with no specific form?

Find the style of poetry that fits you by experimenting with writing, journaling and blogging about your poetry. Get it out there into the world.

3. Join a poetry/writing group.

It nurtures, it feeds, and it helps a poet grow. By listening to others and sharing your work, you expand your knowledge, and open yourself up to many different poetry styles. This is a terrific way to hone your craft.

It is also a great way to network about where you can publish your poetry. Joining an online group is also very helpful, and there are quite a few online poetry groups and sites from Yahoo and Linked In  groups, to numerous poetry and writing blogs.

YouTubeis another great place to watch and listen to great poetry.You will find many powerfulpoetry videos recorded from poetry shares, poetry slams and open-mic poetry events. The more you read, share and listen to others, the more you learn.  Lit-Zines and E-zines online are open to new poetry. One wonderful Lit-Zine is “The GreenSilk Journal” it gives a place for new poets to shine.

4.When writing poetry for children, keep the subject simple and the matter familiar.

Use words that flow and create a sing-song cadence. Such as: the pup was trouncing, bouncing, bashing and dashing, his paws were racing, his teeth were gnashing.

I suggest that you have fun with the poetry. Think about what made you happy as a child, what moved you, what poetry you remember with fondness. What stayed with you, and what lessons you took from the poems? Then write the kind of poetry that you loved.

5.Beware of poetry publishing scams, and there are a lot out there. 

Subscribe to online watchdog blogs and sites such as Writers Beware. They do the research for you and let you know about the less than honest publishers out there, whether they are magazine “poetry contests” that cost way too much money, or anthologies that will make you pay to play.  There are many unscrupulous characters out there just trying to make a buck off  a poet who is hungry to be published, so do your research before you submit your poems.

I hope my advice has been helpful and I wish you much success with your writing!

how to write poetry,poems,verse,rhymes

Carolyn Wolfe

Carolyn Wolfe is a freelance writer, published poet, and author of eight books, which range from poetry to fantasy and children’s literature. Her body of work includes writing articles for newspapers and newsletters, and hosting poetry events. Her books include two poetry books “Notes From The Shadow Self” and “When The Moon Speaks,” a collection of original light fantasy stories titled “The Moonsparrow Collection” and four children’s books. Wolfe lives in Winchester VA with her husband Scott and many animal companions. Check out her website here

The Moonsparrow Collection is available on Amazon USA here, and Amazon UK here.






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