ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Poetry Formula with 20 Requirements

Updated on February 24, 2008

Writing form poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea. Neither is reading it. However, I am a firm believer that the best poets have conquered the forms before reinventing them into new, breathtaking poems. Of course, it is possible that I have been brainwashed into thinking this by those who have taught the various writing classes and workshops I’ve attended.

Following a formula for a poem can be both challenging and fun. In fact, if you like word puzzles, you should love the challenge of writing a good poem that fits a form. It is easy to write a form poem, but it isn’t easy to write a great one.

The following exercise is from an assignment I received while taking a poetry class in college. My professor, Sam Green (who was named Poet Laureate for the state of Washington in 2007), provided this fun formula for us.

The Twenty Requirements

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor or simile.

2. Say something specific, but completely and utterly preposterous.

3. Use at least one image, in succession, for each of the five senses: sight, touch, sound, taste, smell.

4. Use an example of synesthesa (mixing the senses).

5. Use the proper name of a person and a place.

6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.

7. Change direction, or digress from the last thing you said.

8. Use a word you have never seen in a poem (slang, perhaps).

9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic (The snow falls heavily, because the candle is burning, and there’s nothing on TV—see how none of these really have anything to do with each other?).

10. Use a piece of “talk” you have actually heard, preferably in dialect and/or which you do not understand.

11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun).”

12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities (her smile is the squeal of a pig to slaughter).

13. Make the speaker of the poem do something he/she could not do in real life.

14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.

15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.

16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.

17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing, but that makes no “real” sense.

18. Use a phrase from a language other than English, than translate it.

19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).

20. Close the poem with a vivid image that echoes the image you began the poem with.

Below, you will see how I wrote the poem. I think it is a fun poem, but it isn’t finished. It can use a lot of editing and revision; in fact, I already have more current version of it. After you write your poem following the form, you can choose to deviate from it to make it work better.

DRIVING CROSS-COUNTRY, USA 2003

Billboards decorate natural scenery along the interstate

like vultures screeching over their prey.

I am full of silences shouting through my mind.

A glimpse of my eye caught in the mirror, my smile

thickens, as voices change from sweet melodies

to serious banter. I am entranced by the voices,

their words scourging through my veins, my fingers

coiling like ancient roots around the steering wheel.

And I bite through the bitterness, praying for

sweet respite, but the air is full of the rotten

fruit, the trash left at the door and trailed back

in by unwanted visitors who can’t be turned away.

Messages of harmful hope feel smooth

as a razor, and I am alone in the world,

hidden in dreams with the noise spreading

through my mind and into numbness.

They are home in bed, in sheets of cotton,

like a Sunday morning with empty prospects

and I swerve on the road like a young kid in

his red racing car. Again I’m bombarded

by billboards, because I won’t be there today,

and tomorrow has yet to come.

I’m following my plan, and I’m listening

to the woman’s relationship with God,

like the sun, and we are the dark moon

of disgrace, the silvery globe is the cold

light of sin. I grasp the radio waves in my

fist, tossing them out the window. How many

miles to go? I can’t wait to sigh with heavy relief,

stretching limbs, realizing how this lonely

adventure will shape perspectives for years

unknown. My eyes are glued to the long stretch

of strict road, and I continue on,

with the sound of memories fueling my engine,

the car rumbles soundlessly along.

Ich bin nicht auf dieser Straße allein

I am not alone on this road.

The tires ask for a break, the pedals beg

for a breath of fresh air from underfoot.

I continue alone, avoiding the cries

of the predators surrounding my car.

I will pull over, as soon

as I’m no longer here.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Juan Lizardman 

      5 years ago

      Over the rainbow and through the stars. They gather and nobody knows.

    • Serendipity88 profile image

      Raina Makdissy 

      8 years ago from California

      Below was what I had written before until I came across this page, however, I do look forward to trying this. It sounds very intriguing and helpful! Writing is the one of the best cathartic releases that I know of… It has always been a passion to me. Poetry is something that is very new to me. I do believe that in time I will improve, especially if I were to read or take a class on it. I was curious how long the average person take to work on a poem. Also, I am confused by the classifications of the poems themselves. I have been categorizing mine as narrative or dramatic because they seem to be the most suitable. I would really appreciate it if anyone has any suggestions. Thank you so much! Sincerely, Raina

    • LeonJane profile image

      LeonJane 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Great idea and very creative

    • profile image

      :) loveyoudearly 

      8 years ago

      this is amazing!!! thanks!!! :)

    • pinkhawk profile image

      pinkhawk 

      8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      ...interesting but I'm not sure If i can do this, I need so many practice to follow all the requirements. However I'll try if my limitation permits. Thank you very much for sharing ma'am! :0 great!

    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 

      8 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      Wow I thought I went a little over the top with some of my musical viral hubs, you can check and see what I mean. But this is quite an exercise in percison poetics, not for the rank amateur. I will have to see if I am up the the call, It may take me a while to write the exercise...thanx for the challenge.

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      8 years ago

      Wow, what a coincedence. i didn't understand a few of the requirements, so i searched it up, and apparently, you are doing this as well. I'm only fourteen, and my english teacher decided to choose this for us to write, and i must say, it is really, really difficult for me... But your poem is beautiful. you make it seem so easy. i'll try harder now thanks to your inspiration :)

    • hotspur profile image

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thanks for sharing the exercise I'll try it out

    • WRKennedy profile image

      WRKennedy 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Rhythm 'n rhyme - they are just tools to me. You can use them to build a commercial jingle or a Shakespearean sonnet. For me, poetry is actually about distilling emotions into language. If after reading a poem, you don't feel an emotional connection to the author or the subject, then it isn't a real poem for you.

      I LOVE this exercise. It's intellectually challenging and it pokes fun at poets who take themselves too seriously.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      8 years ago from USA

      Stacie... Forgive this old man, OK? As an exercise, write out that poem as though it were paragraphical text, you know, like some sort of text story. Then read it to yourself. What do you think of it? I'm one of those screwballs who truly believe that poetry should have both rhyme and rythm. If not, it is text written on funny little disconnected lines. I got what you thought, etc., and it made sense. But, I asked myself, is that poetry? :-)

    • profile image

      Theresa Grefer 

      8 years ago

      this exercise gives great ideas for poetry (most of which I have experimented with movie). I loved your product which makes me want to try one for myself :D.

    • profile image

      aussie_wife 

      9 years ago

      thanks for sharing this info with us..this is very helpful....love the poem...i'm curious to see the other version of this poem...

    • profile image

      luv.poem 

      9 years ago

      This is a very challenging exercise! I look forward to trying it, probably after finals lol :)

      I also really like your product! It's very good, and doesn't seem to have come from a writing prompt. Bravo.

    • profile image

      hillellina 

      9 years ago

      I love it!!!,

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)