How to Write a Poem Well
Before you begin reading, let me just say this: every poem is a work of art and every poem is unique in its own way! No poem is written poorly, because EVERY single line shows the life of a poet and how they are thinking. I feel dejected when I think of English teachers giving poor grades to poems because they aren’t written “well”. So, to help you make a “well” written poem in the mind of the modern English teacher, here are some tips that should help!
- Appeal to The Reader’s Five Senses
The five senses include: feel, touch, hear, smell, and taste. To incorporate this into a poem, attempt to use these poetic devices:
This device helps the reader see what you are seeing, and this device is often what makes the poem either be considered “bad” or “good”. Readers LOVE to see what the poet is seeing, especially through the use of descriptive word choices that make the reader feel as if they are actually there.
Example of poor imagery:
It was cold outside.
Example of good imagery:
My nose turned blood red and numb as it was exposed to the clawing gusts of wind that screeched inside my frozen ears.
This device is used by giving objects and animals “human-like” qualities.
Example of personification:
The trees bowed and danced in response to the wind’s loving call.
Personification used here was “trees bowed and danced” and “wind’s loving call”. As we all know, trees cannot bow and dance and wind cannot call to something, but yet this device sounds much more appealing than just saying something like “the trees moved in because of the wind”. In a poem, personification is great!
We all know what these are! Similes are used by making a comparison between two things by using like or as.
The child’s cheeks glowed like the sunset upon a summer horizon
Yet again, not a relatively “unknown” device! A metaphor, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a DIRECT comparison between two things!
The sleeping child was a fallen log, and the fragile grandmother struggled under the weight
There are MANY other qualities that make a poem great, but, for now, these are what really should be focused upon. Imagery in particular, is very important in order to write a poem well.
- Don’t Force Your Rhyming!
This is sadly something that many poets struggle with. I myself know that I am not perfect when it comes to rhyming, but I feel that it needs to be addressed. Rhyming is a GREAT thing to have in your poems, but it is very hard to do correctly. To rhyme well, try to have an interesting rhyme scheme!
Example of bad rhyming (rhyme scheme is AABB):
The smell of the warm bread rolls
Were beginning to take their toll
As my taste buds tasted the air
And my eyes could all but stare.
Example of good rhyming (rhyme scheme is ABCB)
My mother pulled the pan of homemade bread from the oven,
And taking off her flour encrusted baking gloves,
She cut me a thick, warm slice as the smell met my nose
That smelled of thousands of hugs and a mother’s love.
See how much better that sounds? By adding imagery and an interesting rhyme scheme, the poet gets a lot more freedoms AND creates a perfect poem.
- Make The Abstract Concrete
When I tell people this, most have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, when in actuality, the idea is quite simple: DON’T JUST CLEARLY STATE WHAT YOU MEAN! That is basically like saying the moral of a novel within the first two sentences! Avoid generalizations, judgments, and abstractions.
Example of a judgment:
The girl was beautiful
Example of making turning this judgment around:
I looked at the freckles that littered her cheeks
As if it was a canvas that was mapping out the stars,
But then I noticed her hair
And those few stray stands that fell into her eyelashes
When she sat in her desk reading a classic novel,
Trying not to smile when she glances my way
And sees my longing gaze.
As you can tell, the second example SHOWS how the boy sees beauty rather than just stating “the girl was beautiful”. Here is a list of some generalizations, judgments and abstractions that you should never use in your poems:
Basically, never use an adjective by itself in a line. Big “no-no” of poetry. Make the poem INTERESTING!
Well, I think that is all that I have to say on how to write a good poem! I hope that some of this stuff was useful to you and you can use it in your own poems! Keep writing!