Poetry Tips

I remembered another reason why April is my favorite month… and that is because April is National Poetry Month. And, in honor of April, here are five tips for writing poetry.

1. Don’t use mixed metaphors. Make sure the imagery in the poem flows together and doesn’t clash. “A wave of guilt wafted over her like an avalanche” is a mixed image. An avalanche does not waft.

2. Keep in practice; don’t just write when you’re inspired. Like any art, poetry requires dedication and practice to gain skill. If you want to become a poet, write a poem (or a scrap of a poem, or a writing exercise) every day.

3. The lyrics to popular music (by and large) are not good poetry. Yes, they are poetry of a sort, but if you want to write good stuff, you must read (and listen to) real poetry from all different writers, in all different time periods.

4. With that said, it’s good to practice writing all types and styles of poetry. Haiku, limerick, sonnet, ghazal, villanelle, etc.

5. Read your poems out loud. Poetry was originally a spoken-word art form. Even if your poem doesn’t rhyme, it should still sound pleasing to the ear when read out loud. (And of course, not all poetry has to rhyme.)

Feel free to share any other useful poetry tips in the comments section!

14 thoughts on “Poetry Tips

  1. Thanks for the tips, Maggie! And also thanks for letting me know it’s National Poetry Month (I didn’t before – quite bad of me). Tip number 4 is probably the one I follow the most. I never stick to one type of poem, usually either because it gets boring or because I like to experiment with new types of poetry.

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  2. My creative writing teacher in high school told me #2 and I’ve never forgotten it (though I can’t say I have followed it as well as I have liked). His version was, “READ (others poems) and write poetry every day.”

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  3. Hi Maggie,

    This was fun, thanks.

    My tip is to pair a great poem with an exceptional title. A poor title might not capture the attention that your poem desurves. Some poets don’t title their poems at all–that’s great, but if you do that, do it every time. Make not titling poems your trademark.

    Otherwise, give your poem a title, but make it a good one!! Writing titles is a great opportunity to be super creative.

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      1. Oh, you do the title first…cool. I do that sometimes but 99 percent of the time I like to do it after the poem is written. I like that your technique would reflect the main idea of the poem so well. Good tip.

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  4. How exciting! I learned about a new form; although I’ve read Rumi & Hafiz, I’d never seen/heard a mention of the “ghazal” form.

    I largely gave up poetry-writing to pursue fiction. My common refrain: I can’t find enough time for everything that I love.

    You could say the metaphor in #1 is a doubly-mixed metaphor – not only is there an avalanche “wafting,” but there’s also a wave AND an avalanche!

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  5. Thanks for posting. I enjoyed this. Point 1, I don’t like to think what I do with words haha 🙂 and 2,3 and 5 I try to do 🙂 Point 4 I don’t do. Perhaps I should though 🙂

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