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Creative Ways to Start a Poem: A Solo Quest for Inspiration

Updated on October 10, 2014

Crossing the Stunning Barrier to Imagination

Stunning Mountain Landscape by Rick Ruell
Stunning Mountain Landscape by Rick Ruell | Source

A South African Poem(Author Unknown)

Love Song of a Girl

The far-off mountains hide you from me,

While the nearer ones overhang me.

Would that I had a heavy sledge

To crush the mountains near me.

Would that I had wings like a bird

To fly over those farther away.

[Translated by A.C. Jordan]

Creating poems can be the most beautiful and painful, literary form of art to wield. It is from your soul you can string words along and tie them together so magnificently and you read it, taste it on your lips for yourself and declare it good. You repeat catchy lines to yourself and you record it in a notebook, a laptop, a tablet or a recorder.

My problem follows close on my heels when it comes time to birth a poem. I have personal muses, emotions, and tons of family history to twist with a wicked grin and slap it on the screen. But even when that is used up, where can I go? I have traveled the yards of my mind and figure that I must have quite the imagination but if you’re like me, there are some doors shut in your mind. There are special locks designed only for when you have acquired the keys to unlock them. On my journey I have invested time and mental energies to unlock these doors.

In this hub, I will share with you some good ways to begin that creative poem you have burning inside your heart.

Music takes you to the poem you're looking for
Music takes you to the poem you're looking for | Source

Wake Up to a Song

If you’re a fan of music like I am, then listening to lyrics and the melody can put you in a trance sometimes. You feel where the artist is coming from. You have been there. The words remind you of…you. Then the melody itself lends to a rhythm you can meringue to or shake your rump, twist and bend and all the while you sit with those earphones on. Never moving.

Ah, but you are moving-by way of music.

When I hear a song I enjoy, it becomes a poem to me. I don’t copy the lyrics. Don’t have to. It is the “expression” found in the words: the situation, the person, the crime of passion. The beat simply transports me there. And now I do have a poem to write. If at first I was not in love, after hearing a song- I am in love and can write about it.

Get inspired by another person's words.
Get inspired by another person's words. | Source

Read a Poem

Similar to being inspired by music, I catch poetry in the palm of my mind and see it for what it is. An expression of something to someone or about anything. A seasoned poet’s words can sometimes say it a lot better than I can and they use poetry tools only those with experience can achieve like a magician and their practiced wand.

“How can I ever be inspired to write something that good?” You say.

What I have done was take the subject and that twisted the key. The metrics, syllabics, the metaphors, the repetitions and enjambed lines can all be re-cooked, reheated and served as my dish. Again, the goal is not to copy. It is to be inspired. There is a difference.

Master the Poetic Tools

Sometimes, if I am in a really good mood. I kill that mood with study of poetic terms. It is a kind of killjoy when you think about it. Why study the tools of poetry? How can that inspire anyone?

Knowing what weapons you have in your arsenal(we’re talking about literature here), allows you to get a bit more creative than before. If you are concerned with unlocking your potential, which is held hostage - it would be wise to understand these tools.

These tools include terms like metaphor, simile, oxymoron, irony, tone, voice, subject, alliteration, slant rhyme and on and on.

I hated learning these terms in school, but you know what? Once I sat down and spent more time learning about meter and syllabics and the difference between assonance and alliteration- I could do so much more with my poetry. I can refresh old poems and invent new poems.

Another door unlocks.

Example of a "Shape" poem and perhaps a "Found" poem too.
Example of a "Shape" poem and perhaps a "Found" poem too. | Source

Mastering Poetic Forms

Have you bought the Writer’s Market Guide to Poetry? If not, there is a wealth of information in there on the major poetic forms. It is mind blowing.

Forms are different from tools but they are all part of the technique. Forms are your types of poetry: Haiku, Prose, Free Verse, Blank Verse, Ghazal, Pantoum, etc.

I would love to learn about all forms so I may choose which forms to study. In my quest to find inspiration though, I have come to love the gogyohka and the haiku because a person can say much with little and I am trying my hardest to do that.

Join Poetry Groups Online

Join Poetry Groups Online.

About two years ago, or almost two years I was a part of the Gogyohka Junction. This group met online to learn about gogyohka(5 line, unrhymed poem) and create it to share with others via the Ning platform. The gogyohka form was created by Enta Kusakabe and became a fun outlet for me.

Whenever I was joyous, sad, or reflective, I signed on to my account and shared a five line poem with others. The amazing thing was many would respond using the five line format; kind of like the Japanese form of Renga in ancient days.

When the site closed down I was most unhappy, but the poetry I placed on there inspired me to write daily.

Another door clicks open.

Where the dream meets reality.
Where the dream meets reality. | Source

Mating Experience with a Dream or Vision

Earlier, I mentioned that the terrains of my imagination are plush and wonderful places for fantasy; and that I still had to look for inspiration.

Well, never despair because the Creator has placed a good dose of dreams and visions in you that are stored in the core of your being. No amount of research or searching around can replace that.

You can mingle the truth with fantasy though.

Some time ago I wrote a Something(essay, flash fiction, prose, experimental?) and married it to dreams and reality. It was fun to write from the top of my head but when I reread the post I was startled by the truth hidden in there. Like a little Where’s Waldo picture book.

Hopefully, by now you have realized as I have that we have been blessed with much creativity. Sometimes it takes a little work to unlock those stubborn doors so that a great poem may come out and the journey for me has been a challenge yet joyous at the same time.

Do you have a favorite form or technique for poetry? I'd love for you to share it here and we can encourage one another on the journey to poeming.


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    • Ericajean profile image

      Ericajean 5 years ago

      Ytsenoh: It is so refreshing to read to poems. I tend to prefer vintage poetry myself: Whitman, Frost, Plath... Thanks for reading my hub!

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      One of my favorite pieces I wrote is in my hubs. It is interesting how ideas and experiences generate a voice found in a poem. I remember when I was studying poetry and it was a lot of work to write a poem in all the different forms, but most enjoyable learning about the historical poets. Very interesting hub. Music is a good tool. Listening to Vivaldi promoted poetry from my mind. See, you wrote something interesting and you have me thinking about the reasons I don't write poetry anymore, although I read a lot of it! Thank you.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 5 years ago from North Carolina

      The pleasure is all mine. Kim

    • Ericajean profile image

      Ericajean 5 years ago

      Oh cool, Ocfireflies! I'm glad you got the boogie out of the Bugle Boy, ha! Did I say that right? Anyway, thanks for the Follow!

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Just recently, I wrote a poem about and/or for bloggers called the Hub Hop Boogie. I had been hub hopping a lot and the tune from the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy just would not get out of my head so I married the two and got my little poem out of it. It is as if (in this hub) you were describing how my Hub Hop Boogie came into be. Thank You. Voted Up.


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