How to Write a Blues Poem

Naturally, blues poetry has its roots in music. It is a form that reaches into the experiences and histories of African Americans. The early blues poems were actually sung by slaves working out in fields. They involved a call from one person, with a response by others.

A traditional blues stanza has three lines. The first line is repeated with the second line, but you can also use a repetitive variation. Then comes the third line, which is rhyming.

Blues poetry doesn’t have to follow the traditional form—often, poems are considered blues because of their content rather than form.

The following is an excerpt from a blues poem by Carolyn Beard Whitlow.

Rockin’ a Man,

Stone Blind

Cake in the oven, clothes out on the line,

Night wind blowin’ against sweet, yellow thighs,

Two-eyed woman rockin’ a man stone blind.

Langston Hughes, along with Sterling Brown, helped blues poetry emerge.
Langston Hughes, along with Sterling Brown, helped blues poetry emerge.

The poem continues on for five more stanzas. All the stanzas have three lines, except for the last, which has four.

It is common to find lines repeating each other in a blues poem. Not only does the repetitiveness highlight ideas within the poem, but it also creates a rhythm throughout the lines.

Here is my attempt at a blues poem. Please be aware that it uses vulgar language..

A WHITE GIRL’S BLUES

Her momma told her, don't sing no more.

Her momma told her, don't you sing no more.

Poor little, poor little girl, she's only four.

---

She hummed in the shower before she sang.

She hummed in the shower before she sang.

Her neighbors knocked at her door. bang bang

---

She sings no more, she's always sick.

She sings no more, she's silently sick.

You think she's a daisy, easy to pick.

---

White petals and so easy to pluck.

White on the outside. Still easy to fuck.

You look at her, just her fucking luck.

---

I’m a little girl without any wings.

I’m a little girl without any wings.

I’m a woman, let me sing.

Interested in writing a blues poem?

Try listening to blues music before you start writing. This will help you find the style you want to write the poem in. You can also try the structure of repetition, or from someone else’s perspective. Remember that while the blues is usually associated with a painful experience, it is also about triumph of the human spirit. You can write about your deepest sorrow, but you can also write about choosing the path away from that sorrow.

Happy writing.

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Comments 12 comments

Ian 7 years ago

I'm sure you know this but just in case (because you don't mention it): "Two-eyed woman rockin’ a man stone blind" is actually a Villanelle, and an excellent example of one at that. Villanelle's have an extremely rigid structure where the first and last lines of the first stanza are repeated alternately on each subsequent stanza with the final two lines actually being these repeated lines. Another classic example of a villanelle is the, perhaps more widely known, "Do not go gentle into this good night" by Dylan Thomas.

"Two-eyed woman rockin’ a man stone blind" is absolutely one of my favourite poems purely for her amazing story-telling within such a short and rigid poetic form. Being in possession of a rather clipped British accent myself it's almost impossible for me to read out loud in the way it should without me mimicking a Southern US drawl - a testament to the blues quality of the poem.


devon 7 years ago

awesome dude i totally agree


michael 7 years ago

who knows were to find examples


Mitzi 7 years ago

i agree with what is said here and I really enjoyed the poetry yours was really cute as well, gud job!!!


hakim 6 years ago

wow i love them and they stink too lol


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Mr blues 2 jazz 6 years ago from Jurupa Valley California

I'm sorry...that was some of the most lame stuff I ever heard. You guys think because you can talk about the blues because you took a class or two. and you listen to the radio..Please!! Real Blues Poetry,lyrics get these: T-Bone Walker -1950-54- imperial Records -2-disc set. Muddy Waters-Chess Records,Henry "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, John Lee Hooker boogie Chillun', Robert Johnson Country Blues,. You can probably google the lyrics once you decide what you want. Good Luck!


Emmanuel onyibe 5 years ago

Totally awesomen,your gorgeous


Stella 4 years ago

I still need help figuring out how to write a blues poem.


mad dog 4 years ago

the first one was good but the second one sucked............................and i still need help on a bluse poem for miss.parella


Pretty Girl Swagg 4 years ago

@ Mr.Blues 2 JAZZ. this is my first time taking a class in Jazz. I do not understand Jazz. I enjoy to the music very much, but to have to take a test on Jazz and Blues....all I can say is Lord help me. I pray I pass this class.


Anja 4 years ago

Simplify plz?


dina 3 years ago

.-. i have to write a blues poem and its DUE TOMMOROW AND I DIDN'T EVEN START D;

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