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A poem finds you. By this, I mean that writing a poem is not like preparing dinner or designing a Mars explorer. Following a series of steps correctly will not get you a poem but will get you perfectly edible pot roast or a design that wins approval -- if not funding -- from NASA. A poem has to capture observation and reflection. You see a child jumping on puddles -- and you see his mom -- in her brand new, white dress. Then the inevitable happens - mom's new dress begins to 'wear' the puddle and you are already forming a poem. See my haiku:
so many puddles
-- splaaaaash - he jumps in with both feet!
mom's new white dress
1. Read and listen to poetry : "Good" poems fall into three categories: those that are recognized as classics, those that seem to be popular, and those that you personally like. Poems typically being short, there is no reason not to explore plenty of both.
2. Find a spark : A poem may be born as a snippet of verse, maybe just a line or two that seems to come out of nowhere. This is usually called 'inspiration', and the remainder of the poem need only be written around it.
3. Think about what you want to achieve with your poem : Think about why you are writing your poem and who your intended audience is, and then proceed in your writing accordingly.
4. Decide which poetry style suits your subject : While the choice may not always be as obvious as the example above, the best form for the poem will usually manifest itself during the writing process.
5. Try to fit into a particular scene you want to write about : The natural scenery may inspire few lines, even if they're not perfect.
6. Listen to your poem : As you write and edit your poem, read it aloud and listen to how it sounds. A poem's internal structure commonly focuses on rhythm, rhyme, or both.
7. Write down your thoughts as they come to you : Don't edit as you write, or do edit as you write - the choice is yours. However, you should try both methods at least a couple times to see what works best for you.
8. Choose the right words : Think of the words you use as building blocks of different sizes and shapes. Some words will fit together perfectly, and some won't. Use only those words that are necessary, and those that enhance the meaning of the poem. Choose your words carefully. The differences between similar sounding words or synonyms can lead to interesting word play.
9. Use concrete imagery and vivid descriptions : Really powerful poetry not only uses concrete images; it describes them vividly. Show your readers and listeners what you're talking about--help them to experience the imagery of the poem. Put in some "sensory" handles. These are words that describe the things that you hear, see, taste, touch, and smell, so that the reader can identify with their own experience.
10. Use poetic devices to enhance your poem's beauty and meaning :The most well known poetic device is rhyme. Rhyme can add suspense to your lines, enhance your meaning, or make the poem more cohesive. It can also make it prettier. Don't overuse rhyme. It's a crime. In fact, you don't have to use rhyme at all. Other poetic devices include meter, metaphor, assonance, alliteration, and repetition. Poetic devices can establish a poem, or, if they bring too much attention to themselves, can ruin it.
11. Save your most powerful message for the end of your poem : Give the reader something to think about, something to dwell on after reading your poem. Resist the urge to explain it; let the reader become engaged with the poem in developing an understanding of your experience or message.
12. Edit your poem : When the basic poem is written, set it aside for awhile and then read the poem out loud to yourself. Go through it and balance the choice of words with the rhythm. Take out unnecessary words and replace imagery that isn't working. Don't be afraid to rewrite if some parts of the poem is not working. Some poems have lines that simply don't convey an element well, and can be replaced.
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