How to write poetry for beginners - A guest blog
Poetry is a special experience, something that can invoke thoughts, feelings, and ideas that we would never have entertained previously. However, despite the unique nature of poetry, it is not something that only artists can create. Indeed, used in a personal capacity or to help improve learning, poetry is an amazing tool.
Today is National Poetry Day (Monday 21st March). This is a global celebration of all things wonderful about poetry. It is a day for finding new pieces, for celebrating your most beloved works, and for creating your own.
The wonder of poetry
Poetry provides us with an opportunity to paint a picture, and set a scene, in a way we never could otherwise. Unlike a paragraph, a poem has to invoke a meaning and a message in a much smaller word count. This, to those who have never tried before, can seem like a nigh-impossible task. However, the wonder of poetry is that anyone can write a poem!
I truly believe that poetry should be taught at a young age. Being able to write a poem naturally and comfortably can help children with:
- Looking closer into their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a level they might not otherwise
- Tapping into their creative mind-set and understanding how to make their ideas clear
- Improving confidence by helping them see the true depth of the thoughts that they hold
- Strengthening their understanding of language, and how to make their points understood
- Moving beyond the base meaning of a word or phrase, and looking at more abstract meanings
All of these factors are very important I believe in helping children become more creative overall. Poetry pushes us to look at items from a new angle, and from different perspectives. It can force us to think about subjects from viewpoints we never had taken before. In what amounts to around a paragraph of text, a poem can make the point that it would take an entire essay to achieve. Some great examples of poetry lessons include The Seaside and Chocolate Poetry by PlanBee.
Poems can come in all shapes and sizes. Some will look to tell a story, like my own poem, The Wonderful Life of Todd the Frogg. Others look to try and provide knowledge of what it is like to see the world through the eyes of another. Other poems will set a scene, or try to make the mind focus on a particular theme or topic. The beauty of poetry is that it is easy to learn, it is capable of providing tremendous information to the reader, and it can be a wonderful tool for those learning a new language.
Anyone can write poetry, but how do you get started?
I truly believe that anyone can write poetry – even those who are writing in a second language. The fact poetry does not require the same volume of words as writing an essay means it is easier to make your point without being totally language-fluent. However, it is also a great learning tool for second language learners, as it can provide interesting concepts in a smaller word count.
What, though, are some of my main tips for writing poetry? How can you get started?
Learn from the best
First off, be sure to take inspiration from other poets. The best way to write good poetry is to read quality poetry in the first place. Read poems that you enjoy, and look for poems that are on topics of your passion. Simply do an online search for “poems about [X]” and replace the X with your chosen topic. Then, you can start to notice little similarities and stylings used by the best poets you can incorporate.
Just as a good musician will broaden their musical horizons, so too must a poet.
Avoid first line paralysis
Most new poets fail to fire because they struggle with their opening line. For many, the first line of a poem is like the article title. It might set the original foundation, but come the end of the writing the original idea might have shifted. Even improved. With that in mind, avoid spending too much time worrying about your opening line in a poem.
You can come back to the opening line, but if you never progress beyond a quest for opening line perfection you will never write anything.
Learn more about literary devices
To write good poetry, it is important to be able to turn to literary devices. Being able to drop in a metaphor, use imagery in your writing, or include an allegory can be a tremendous way to paint the picture you want in your poem.
This is why we highly recommend you start thinking about learning more about these literary devices. They can be excellent for really making a point felt despite a relative lack of words.
Focus on storytelling
The best way to get beyond the early challenges of poetry is to write a story. Try and focus on writing something that actually tells a tale. This allows you to focus on telling this story well as opposed to trying to find some existential point within the words. Take something like “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe – this is as powerful a story as many movies or books.
Trying to tell a story, perhaps focusing on one major plot point, can be a good way to make your poem feel worthwhile. Embrace the idea of telling a story as opposed to trying to impress with written flair.
Read analysis pieces on poetry
Part of what makes poetry so special is that a singular piece can have many meanings and valid conclusions. By reading an analysis piece on a poem, you can see what one analyst thinks the poem means. Read another, though, and another person could reach a totally contrasting yet equally valid conclusion!
This is great for helping you to write better poetry, as you stop focusing on always having one black and white meaning.
Write something small
Many lose focus and interest in writing a poem because they feel like they are unable to write the full thing. Instead of trying to write a large poem, though, start with something small – even a haiku. Something short like a haiku, or something simplistic like a rhyming poem, can be a better place to start and build confidence.
If you were to try to move into writing books, you would start with short stories as opposed to a Tolkienesque novel. Well, the same goes for poetry. Quality over quantity always.
Learning more about writing poetry
Of course, I also recommend that you take a look at my other videos on poetry. I believe these provide extra insight into how to go about writing poetry, and why it can be such a tremendous tool for learning. You can find Todd the Frogg and other videos here.
Poetry is a spectacular way to express ourselves and to create stories that we simply could not through other mediums. When used as a learning tool, too, poetry can be incredibly effective. Why not try it out for yourself, and see what your mind creates in celebration of National Poetry Day?
Andy Nesbit - andytheeslguy
Andy Nesbit is the founder of the successful Youtube Channel andytheeslguy and a PlanBee customer! The channel has nearly 10k subscribers and was created to make teacher's lives that little bit easier! Andy has been an English teacher in China for the past 12 years and currently works for the prestigious school: King's College School Chengdu.