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How to Write A Good Modern Poem

Updated on November 30, 2014

How to Write a Poem: Step 1 (preparation)

  1. Read! The best way to learn about poetry, how it works, how it should sound, and immerse oneself into it, by reading the works of great poets. There is nothing more beneficial to a budding poet than actually ingesting the sort of material you wish to create. Remember, it's not shameful to "copy" a poet's style experimentally, especially if you're having trouble putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard).
  2. Talk to poets. If at all possible! Find people who share your interest in poetry, especially people with serious experience. Find yourself a published poet. Penpals are always a great option. Yes, any writer needs and craves accolades to strengthen their spirit -- but the occasional criticism is just as essential. As with any profession or any hobby, you will constantly be growing in expertise.

How to Write a Poem: Step 2 (tips to remember)


  1. Don't take it too seriously. Billy Collins (Poet Laureate of the United States) said, in his poem "Introduction to Poetry," that readers -- like mice -- should explore a poem gently, feeling its walls for a light switch, rather than strapping it to a chair and torturing information out of it. So should you approach reading poems, and so should you approach writing them!
  2. Don't do the "roses are red" thing! In fact, try not to rhyme at all at first, unless you are following a specific rhyming poetic form, such as a rondeau or sonnet.
  3. Find a spot for writing. Some people can write anywhere, but it's best to find one spot -- somewhere quiet, comfortable, potentially inspiring or likewise dull, where you can quietly be with yourself.

Billy Collins

Billy Collins, 2008, in San Diego
Billy Collins, 2008, in San Diego | Source

How to Write a Poem: Step 3 (starting out)

  1. Write. If you have no ideas, I don't so much suggest "brainstorming" -- for a casual poem, this can cause a lot of unnecessary choices to sift through. Read; immerse; get into the groove of poetry.
  2. Free associate if you can't think of anything to write, or just can't get your hands to form letters, words, and lines. Free association is basically taking a pencil to paper (or other medium) and writing whatever comes to mind, trying your best not to actually think or imagine sentences. Hopefully, this will get your brain into gear for that masterpiece of a poem you're about to pen!
  3. If you have a specific form in mind, write out the rules as a template and plug your words into the poem. For example, when writing a sonnet, number 1-14, and next to each line, put ababcdcdefefgg, depending on the line.

How to Write a Poem: Step 4 (writing the poem)

  1. Don't rhyme. Did I say that already?
  2. Okay, you can rhyme. But don't twist and rearrange your words just to fit in a rhyme! You can even go back and add in rhymes, but just don't force them. A bland, flat poem is better than one that's outrageously singsong, in general. Embrace slant rhymes and eye rhymes.
  3. Include at least two symbols, and try to make stanzas of similar size. However, feel free to explore; if stanzas don't work for you, try prose poems, which are formatted similarly to paragraphs (prose). See this.
  1. Focus on your senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste, smell, pressure, itch, thirst, hunger, tension reception; all of the senses! (There are more than five, by the way.)

  1. Reach with your metaphors -- but not too much. As long as you are able to tie two dissimilar images to each other properly without obvious effort, you can make pretty much any connection, but don't reach too much.
  2. Short and sweet wins out usually, but lengthy poems can be accomplished.
  3. Go through it like a cathartic venture the first time, and then go back and edit, edit, revise.
  4. Take a break and start again.

Silvia Plath

A black-and-white photo of Silvia Plath in 1957.
A black-and-white photo of Silvia Plath in 1957. | Source

How To Write A Poem: Step (final tips)

  1. Keep writing. Keep reading. Try to write one poem every day for thirty days, or at least one poem a week. Just write. Even if it is other crap, write! Don't stop.
  2. Read it aloud! To yourself first, to an audience if you can. Do this when you are in the middle of revision, and do it when the poem is complete. Reading poetry out loud is an art unto itself, and can really help you understand your poem's feel, what it needs, and how to fix/ revise it.
  3. Remember: there's no perfect poem. You'll never be done revising! Find a place where the poem feels as good as it can, and move on.

How to Write a Poem with Florida International

Keep on writing!

Favorite Poetic Form

OF THE LIST BELOW, What Is Your Favorite Poetic Form?

See results

Bianca Stewart's "Referral"

A beautiful poem by lesser-known author Bianca Stewart.
A beautiful poem by lesser-known author Bianca Stewart. | Source

Disclaimer

As stated, there is no one perfect poem or poetic form. A lot of the information in this hub is solid fact; a lot is opinion. It's a guide; take it as such.

What do you think? Did I forget your favorite poet? Comment below!

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    • profile image

      Felecia 

      3 years ago

      I believe the only classic poet I included was Whitman. Byron is great too! And he was probably a gay adulterer. Fun poet history.

    • bradjames1983 profile image

      Bradley James Yellop 

      3 years ago from Southend-on-Sea

      Great advice. When I write poetry, I usually take a notebook out for a walk with me and jot down inspiration if it comes. Although even once the initial "flash" of inspiration has worn off, I have been guilty of trying to force it and it took me actually writing the rhyming out of my system to stop doing it.

      Also, in terms of poets you've forgotten. Lord Byron?

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