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How to Write Poetry In Fixed Form

Updated on May 26, 2011

What Makes One a Poet?

I'm going to wax poetical on this one and perhaps go overboard on the cheese.  There are two very simple concepts: To write a poem, 1) you must enjoy poetry and 2) you must be a poet.  It's not for just writing assignments so you can learn what styles, stanzas, rhyme schemes, verses, and syllables are. You learn what these are intimately any time that you begin writing a poem. It's not a special case of elitism poet club. When you write something that comes from you, your mind, and your heart, you're pretty much immediately qualified. ;)

I personally feel that any human being with feelings, thoughts, emotions, and observation skills will find that they have a song or a prose. The hardest part is getting them into words and making them flow. The easy part, for me personally, is finding the rhyme and the groove. I tend to let that shape the rhyme scheme to come and how long a stanza will be, which you can see in my poem 'When I Write Poetry'. Letting the shape come naturally usually becomes my signature writing style which varies slightly from time to time.

When I Write Poetry

When I think of poetry,
I think of the mountain’s face,
I think of the hill’s gentle grace,
And I think of the road’s fast race.
When I think of poetry,
I think of the birds dipping their wings in the sky,
I think of the cars roaring elegantly by,
And I think of the change slipping in without a cry.
When I think of poetry,
I think of the rhyme, I think of the implications,
I think of the verses’ quiet desperations,
And I think of the stanza’s manic creation.
When I think of poetry,
Sometimes all I have to do
Is turn around and look at you.
Then everything –
All the structures, all the rhymes,
All the solid pain of simple lines,
Take up the shape of your heart.

But How to Get Started?

Good question. Many writers and poets have many different ways of their own to get started on writing. I think my innermost beginning stage would be finding what mood I'm in or what's catching my eye right at that moment. Even better, I usually write about what's keeping my mind occupied at that moment. Poetry tends to be spontaneous for me and almost always a work in progress. I also have to have a rhyme scheme - it sounds musical to me that way and it's more fun to do. Often, you can pick out phrases or words that comes from what you want to write about to start with. With that, ideas follow. Never be afraid to change what you've initially put down.

Let's take my poem for example. I knew I was going to rhyme and I wanted it to rhyme in a simple fashion. This one occurred to me spontaneously during a car ride, but not quite in this form. The words and images came to me sporadically and the real work came from finding the right words to the right lines.

At that time, I was really thinking about the things I was experiencing; the view, the ride, and the changes I'd been going through. It was a subtle change in my life at first, but very obvious in hindsight. All this kind of formulated into thought patterns and I thought, "Hmm, this could very well be poem material". Sounds weird, I know. So, I started off with "I think of.." and putting to words the images that came to mind. It became a "when I think of poetry" subject. Ta-da.

Another way to get started is to enjoy other people's poetry.  I tend to remain fascinated by classical long-dead poets; Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Poe, etc.  Their styles are so unique in how they put to use their old English language and set the mood for words they use.  The things they write about are just as unique too; flowers, death, society, self-perception, war, insanity, and time.  If you admire how your favorite poets do it, you can learn from them.

Poetry Writing

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Make It a Challenge!

Once you get into writing poetry with rhyme schemes, different stanza styles, and various things to write about, it's pretty easy to stay in your favorite writing style.

I find the most fun I have is understanding what other poetry categories there are and trying them out for a size.  I think it's inspiring to see your words in many different shapes and see what styles fit what you write about.

So, I'd say that's a good next step to being a poet; experimentation.  Once you realize the first steps of figuring out what you can go on poetic about, how many rhyme schemes you can use, and how you can write them, you're ready to challenge yourself as a poet and build upon your skills of writing by discovering fixed form of poem categories.  For example, haikus are very simple.  Sonnets are quite a bit harder.

Poetry Books - Reading and Writing


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    • writinginalaska profile image

      writinginalaska 7 years ago from southeast Alaska

      i'm a poet, and i "know it", and rhyming is the name of my game,and i love the cadence of them. The lulling to and fro, the meter, finding those darn sing songy words. Hop on over to my hub for some samples. i liked this hub, thank you very much. Good information, yep, i voted. :)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ..ya got to check out the epigramman - his 'stuff' ain't fixed - it's as loose as a goose .................

    • rajpravin431 profile image

      rajpravin431 8 years ago from Cambridge, MA

      This is so nice and informative, I take this as an inspiration to write more. I especially like the part "When I Write Poetry", it is so true, thank you so much.

    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 8 years ago from Chicago

      This is a wonderful piece, articulate, detailed and easy to read. Well done!

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Sunny, this is fantastic.  You're so right on the money about it coming from within.  It just sort of gets there.  It's fun because of the play.  Like a puzzle.  Some of it you know and the rest you get to figure out until it's right. Once you're comfortable with just writing it, then the fun comes in experimenting with styles and forms and beats and whatnot.  What a relaxing take on writing poetry.  Love how you used your poem and your personal thoughts and feelings on writing. I can't see anyone at least trying their hand at it after this.  Thanks.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 8 years ago from -Oceania

      Inspiring and I feel motivated to write a poem from my heart sometime. Thankyou for sharing.

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 8 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub..... I do write poetry, but know none of the rules...... I feel I should learn more about the art.....

    • Actionell profile image

      Actionell 8 years ago

      I think this will help those people that are interested in writing poetry and just don't think they can or feel like they need to know rules before putting pen to paper. It's tough when you are writing about personal things and then displaying it for others to read and critique. I am not that brave. I only share mine with close friends and family. I know not all poetry is bearing your heart for all to see... in my case a lot of it is just creative expression or trying to cleverly hide what I am feeling or talking about. It's a way for me to release pent up emotions, without seeing a shrink. Hah.

    • Sunny Robinson profile image

      Sunny Robinson 8 years ago from Tennessee

      s.pallai, what is your category? I can most likely edit and add it.  I'm not sure I understand the mixed feeling bit.  In this hub, I have advocated expressing yourself in thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences.  What part of this advocacy makes my feeling bitter? 

      My poem shared here was mainly what I think of poetry on the surface, so yes this one was a surface poetry that shared a little bit of what I saw and felt throughout.  This one fit with the subject of how to start writing poetry - like writing things you think of and whatnot.  I can certainly share deeper poems in later hubs. :)

    • s.pallai profile image

      s.pallai 8 years ago from INDIA

      I am not supposed to vote because my catagorey is something different.There is a mixed feeling.You write good but your advocacy regarding poetry may make your feeling bitter.Express yourself and bind others with string that is poetry.The durability of the string to hold some body`s emotion is the life of a poem.Nothing more.Feel it share it and your poetry is commendable to the surface.Better dive to the deep and see how do you feel.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 8 years ago from San Diego, California

      Right on. I liked your poem. You have a very smooth, flowing style. I agree completely that anyone with feeling and emotion can write poetry, and that they ought to. Thanks for the good hub!

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      I dint vote. My fans know who and what I am. I have written poetry since before I could write. LOL I was born into it somehow, but just played with it most of my life. Now I am somewhat more serious about it and just reach for the stars in what I feel and write about. Sometimes a silly thought, or maybe a bird song or a gossamer thread of the spider will set into a mood. I like it. You decide what I am as a wrtier.