Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Alright, the title is misleading. No one can tell you how to write poetry, but I am going to share what I feel are the important aspects to writing something that will actually touch other people.

What makes a good piece of poetry?

Some people's eyes are automatically drawn to spelling and punctuation. It's the first thing they look for when they read something. I'm not one of those people. Spelling and punctuation are tools to help you communicate yourself effectively, but whether you spell it right or not, if someone knows what you are trying to say, you have suceeded.

People write poetry for many different reasons. I know people who spend weeks crafting their words into a piece that they are happy with, that follows rules of form and flow. They write to have written, to create something beautiful. If you are one of those writers, I can't help you here. But you can learn everything you need to know from a technical dictionary. Stephen Fry's An Ode Less Travelled is a great place to go for that.


Personally I write for two reasons, the two reasons that I believe are the most common.

1 - To get whatevers in my head out of it. A lot of people write to gain control over their emotions. That's why love poetry and depressive poetry are so popular, because they are extremes.

2 - To help others. It sounds odd but its my personal belief that we all experience similar things to one degree or another, and by sharing our experiences we can make them less scary for the next person.

So when I sit down to write I don't think about syllables or sonnets, I think about me. What do I need to say, and how can I say it in a way that ensures the readers know what I mean.


- Honesty. If you are going to write about something that someone else feels, you have to be honest. Poetry is very therapeutic, it helps you work out what you're feeling, why you're feeling it, and then decide what to do about it. Its a way to see yourself clearly without bias.

- Integrity. Write what you mean to write. Do not write what fits. I despair of people trying to fit 'a dove' into their poetry just because it rhymes with love. Love isn't organised or conventional. You are doing it a dis-service by writing it that way. Its okay if things rhyme, if you can make the rhymes say what you want to say, but never settle for saying something just because it fits.

- Rhyming. Its not vital. No where in the manual does it say poetry must rhyme. But if you are going to rhyme you have to be flexible. I write all of my poetry on the computer because then I can quickly rearrange lines and stanzas to work together.

I'm falling apart here
I'm running out of luck
I want another chance
Do you wanna ....


So you have 3 lines working (ok these are awful examples, sorry about that, but bear with me) and the fourth line doesnt rhyme. Are you really gonna finish that line? Consider revising the original lines to make the fourth line easier on yourself.

I'm falling apart here
Only bad luck is mine
I want another chance
Just a moment of your time.


You can always change your mind about the first lines, stick to what you mean and try to manipulate it to make your job easier.

- Understanding. Don't write about things you don't understand, it will show. You have to consider why you are even writing about it. When your still at school if you are asked to write about how it feels to be a pineapple in world war 8 thats fine.. but in your spare time if your still writing about that then why? Its alright to write for fun, its great practise, but if you want to say something, then say something about you... something you know.

- Critique. Sharing your poetry can be an important part of the process of learning. Not everyone does, and writing for yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, but if you do share your work be careful what your asking for. If you ask for critique and you tend to take suggestions as criticism then specify what you would like critique in (for example flow, language, spelling, structure, subjects).

- More critique! When critiquing other texts remember to be honest. Its alright not to like something, no matter how popular the person who wrote it is. There will be people who disagree with you, but your opinion is still valid. However, if you are going to say you don't like something, you must say why. It is very rude to say something is bad, or that you dont like it without saying why. Help the writer improve. Tell them what was good about their poetry so they know to expand on that, and then tell them what you found difficult about it. Poetry is an expression of self, they dont have to listen to your opinion.

When critiquing remember not to critique the subject. Its irrelevant what the writer is trying to express. Its their right to express it. Whats relevant is how well they are communicating their experience to you as a reader. Their choice of words, moods, structure etc and how they reflect the subject, these are things to explore with the writer.




At the end of the day the magic of poetry is you can't get it wrong. But poetry is such a passionate art form that it would be a shame for it to get lost under a mountain of greeting cards and radio jingles. We all have something to say, so say it. No one can stop you. Not even me!

** Write a piece of poetry using these pointers? Note me a link! **
Add a Comment:
 
:iconblanzeflor:
Blanzeflor Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2009
Fascinating and well thought out. I don't "think" when I write poetry. When I try to think about rhyme or meter or spelling or whatever, it backfires. Sometimes I feel like there's another consciousness inside my head that comes up with the ideas, and I am just the conduit that puts them on paper.
Reply
:iconsilentange101:
silentange101 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2009
Wow out of all the things I have come across on DeviantART, this article has got to be my favorite!
I love writing, even though sometimes it feels like a pain in the rear end, =P
Mostly though, I go by those guidelines!!! So I was very happy reading this article and seeing I'm not a nutcase for writing the way I write :D
I've been on DA for not a long time, but I wish more people read this article, it would help so much! :)
Kudos to you for writing this up, I like it. ^^
Reply
:iconkael-thas-sunstrider:
Kael-Thas-Sunstrider Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
I was thinking 'WTF' when I first saw this lol, but then I saw the first few lines and Lol'd.

I like the information you've put down here, its really interesting.
My poetry fails to rhyme on a regular basis even when I want it too lol :XD:
Reply
:icondomine-iesu:
domine-iesu Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2008   Photographer
i was a little nervous clicking on the link because, in the back of my head, i'm wondering if this is going to be one of those "follow these simple steps and you're a poet" lectures.

but this article sums up what it means to be a poet. i loved it!
especially the part about "write what you know about." there's nothing i can't stand more than those 13 year-olds talking about "true" love and other things beyond their years.

age and experience are the true predecessors to understanding most feelings.
Reply
:iconmattiello:
Mattiello Featured By Owner May 14, 2008  Professional Writer
I have featured this in my journal as a reference to writers.
Reply
:icontheweirdandwonderful:
TheWeirdandWonderful Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2008
I'm definately going to keep this in mind! I love writing and would like to improve in many forms. Poetry being one of them, in fact I'm in a writing mood at the moment!^^
Reply
:iconaethiana:
Aethiana Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2008
And not to overuse The Ellipsis... or ... as most people know it... It's really... Irritating... to look at... I sound so... unsure of myself... using it... so much... killmenow...
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2008
lolol i am guilty of that a fair bit.
Reply
:iconaethiana:
Aethiana Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2008
From what I can tell, not nearly enough to put yourself in that category :D
Reply
:icontheobviouschild:
TheObviousChild Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2008
PS - The Ode Less Travelled is, indeed, a masterpiece of a book. Every aspiring writer should read and absorb it!
Reply
:icontheobviouschild:
TheObviousChild Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2008
The thing about spelling and punctuation (and, by extension, grammar)... you're right, in a sense. The most important thing is that the message gets through. But it does depend who you're writing for. Yourself? Fine. But if you want to be published in magazines/anthologies etc, you HAVE to pay attention to that nitpicky stuff. Many magazines will, sadly, just reject something outright if the spelling's bad (particularly "u" for "you" and so on), regardless of the message.

(Fortunately, I run a lit mag which aint like that. But so many are, so it is an important factor...)
Reply
:iconlovemeethate:
lovemeethate Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2008  Student Writer
Amazing. :D This is something everyone should read.
Reply
:iconmalcontentious:
Malcontentious Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008
Writers can always learn something from other writers. We may not all share the same styles but we can share ideas.
Reply
:iconero-47:
ERO-47 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Those are some super hints/pints.
Thank you very much :)
Reply
:iconkagitsune:
Kagitsune Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Professional Interface Designer
Well-put! I'm an amateur poet myself, so this was very helpful! ^^
Reply
:iconalice-anne:
alice-anne Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Professional General Artist
:hug:
Reply
:iconeverroxas:
EverRoxas Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Nice article! I've saved this so I can refer to it if I write a piece of poetry again! :)
Reply
:iconraphir:
Raphir Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
That was very well written and it well covered many important parts of the subject in a manner that, indeed, is very fitting for most young poets out there to read and, with some luck, reflect upon. So very good work in that sense!

But I think you narrowed it down a bit too much. Expression of feelings is only one of the many kinds of poetry there are, though it's the most common one. But a poem may well be just an expression of creativity. Heck, I probably would like an well-written poem about pineapples in world war 8 better than an extremely well-written one about love, just because it'd feel more original.
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
But if you wanted to write about poetry you would be expressing your thoughts feelings or experiences (experiences can include imaginary ones) about pineapples.
Reply
:iconbahama-dreams:
Bahama-dreams Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
I agree with you on this, all of my stuff is written along the lines you pointed out. I too write to send my thoughts into the world. The only planning I might do is the figuring out of exactly how to convey my message. Alot of times though I sit down and what I want just flows out of me. That's why I always go back and reread cause sometimes a stream of conciesious (sp) turns out to be not quite a coherant as I thought it was at 3:00am when I put it down. thanks for an informative article that should inspire many a fledgling....
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
I'm always open to notes full of streams of consciousness if you need someone to check coherancy and edit them up. laughs.
Reply
:iconbahama-dreams:
Bahama-dreams Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Hahaha, thank you for your gracious offer! Umm maybe you can check my comment on the poem you wrote for me, I was pretty incoherant then!
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008
laughs
Reply
:iconarchesven:
Archesven Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Aye that stuff's all true.
I'm one of those spontaneous writers; I can't stand the idea of ';planning' a poem out lol
Cause you're not ';planning' what happens to you, so you shouldn't have to plan how to write what has happened.
=)
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Chuckles. When I was a poetry mentor on a poetry forum I had this guy who took four weeks to write a poem. I said to him.

"I want you to write me a stream of consciousness, dont think about it, just when you read the subject, reply, and say whatever you feel about...

being cheated on"

and he replied with his thoughts and i just cut them up, took out about 3 lines, and added punctuation and said ';post it, just post it and see what happens' and people loved it as much as his planned stuff. and I was like, you dont have to do it this way, theres nothing wrong with planning things out, but you dont have to.
Reply
:iconarchesven:
Archesven Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Haha yeah.
I tried planning it out once or twice, and it just doesn't feel like I put myself in it lol
It just feels like I took a scientific approach to it, and that's not what it's about. =)
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008
Nods, im not saying people who write like that are wrong, but they can learn how to do that in a book cant they.
Reply
:iconarchesven:
Archesven Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008
Lol yeah
It's too 'mechanical'
I prefer spontaneous anyday =]
Then again, some people choose not to rhyme and I do rhyme. Can't argue with that.
Reply
:iconpunkgirl-simeone:
PunkGirl-Simeone Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Student General Artist
Poetry.
Reply
:iconletterbomber-223:
letterbomber-223 Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008
i agree.
Reply
:iconpunkgirl-simeone:
PunkGirl-Simeone Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008  Student General Artist
Yup! :D
Reply
:iconmidnightmoon:
MidnightMoon Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Very informative, great read. :)
Reply
:iconmakethevoicesstop:
maketheVoicesSTOP Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Great job on this. However, I agree with :iconchammer:. No matter how hard you try, you can never know what the other person is thinking exactly, and honesty not the word to describe this. Perhaps, sincerity? The sincerity of your thoughts and feelings of what MIGHT be the other person feel. The word 'might' was used because, as I said above, you can never know what the person is thinking exactly.

I really like the part about understanding. It is true that you have to write about what you understand, because if you don't, then everything just goes downhill from there. The integrity section is also great because fillers of any sort should not be used in poetry just to make it 'work'. In the end, it does not work at all.

Keep up the good work.
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Copy: I meant, if your gonna write about something real, and you lie, other people who feel similar are gonna know your lying.
Reply
:iconmakethevoicesstop:
maketheVoicesSTOP Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Alright, thank you for clearing that up.
Reply
:iconchammer:
chammer Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008   Writer
Gotta disagree on this:

"If you are going to write about something that someone else feels, you have to be honest." You can't be honest about emotions that are not your own. No matter how much you can think into somebody, you will never think the same as him/her. I think honesty is the wrong word here. It should be more something like, well ... elaborateness with estimating other's psychology.

overall nice writeup, especially on the integrity and rhyming part.
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
I meant, if your gonna write about something real, and you lie, other people who feel similar are gonna know your lying.
Reply
:iconchammer:
chammer Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008   Writer
ahhhhh. yeah well I agree on that. it's always nice to find thoughts similar to your own when reading texts.
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
Indeed. That point there wasnt to say only write about things people can relate to, it was just suggesting that you be honest with yourself if your gonna write, whats the point in covering up your feelings, especially if its a subject other people feel the same about, because theyll recognise the bits your hiding.
Reply
:iconopheliawhispers:
OpheliaWhispers Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Hobbyist
Yay Flutterings!!!!!!! Great job! I think that for all those aspiring poets out there, this is WONDERFUL!!
Reply
:iconngatti:
ngatti Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, these are really great pointers. Posting this was a great idea.
This is great... "write about how it feels to be a pineapple in world war 8"... War of the Pineapples lol
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
*snorts* war of the pineapples 2 - revenge of the mango
Reply
:iconngatti:
ngatti Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
WOTP 3 - Revenge of the Bananas :yoda:
Reply
:iconpoetryod:
PoetryOD Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008
WOTP 4 - The melon baller strikes back
Reply
:iconcupcakegumbo:
CupcakeGumbo Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Very cool, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconpoetryod: More from PoetryOD


Featured in Collections

Learning by PepperminTiger

Articles to read by VivaFariy


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
January 18, 2008
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
1,281
Favourites
81 (who?)
Comments
45
×