How to Write a Poem: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lindsay Kramer

Poetry is . . . song lyrics without the music? Writing that rhymes? A bunch of comparisons and abstract imagery that feels like a code for the reader to decipher?

The answer to all of the above is yes, but poetry encompasses much more. Poetry is a broad literary category that covers everything from bawdy limericks to unforgettable song lyrics to the sentimental couplets inside greeting cards. Poetry’s lack of rules can make it feel hard to define but is also what makes poetry enjoyable for so many to write. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to write a poem, read on. Writing poetry doesn’t have to be daunting—we’re going to demystify the process and walk you through it, one step at a time.  

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What is a poem?

A poem is a singular piece of poetry. 

Poems don’t have to rhyme; they don’t have to fit any specific format; and they don’t have to use any specific vocabulary or be about any specific topic. But here’s what they do have to do: use words artistically by employing figurative language . With a poem, the form is as important as the function—perhaps even more so.

In contrast, prose is writing that follows the standard sentence and paragraph structure. Prose, while it takes many different forms and tones, largely mimics human speech patterns. 

The purpose of a poem

Poetry expresses emotions and conveys ideas, but that’s not all it can do. Poets tell stories, teach lessons, and even communicate hidden messages through poetry. When you listen to music with lyrics, you’re listening to poetry. 

When you’re writing poetry, keep your goal in mind. Are you writing to evoke emotion? To perform your poem at an open mic night? To get a good grade on your assignment? Although there aren’t any hard and fast rules for writing poetry, there are some fundamental guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • Show, don’t tell. The goal is to provoke an emotion in the reader.
  • Less can be more. While it’s perfectly acceptable to write long, flowery verse, using simple, concise language is also powerful. Word choice and poem length are up to you. 
  • It’s OK to break grammatical rules when doing so helps you express yourself.

Elements of poetry

The key elements that distinguish poetry from other kinds of literature include sound, rhythm, rhyme, and format. The first three of these are apparent when you hear poetry read aloud. The last is most obvious when you read poetry.

One thing poetry has in common with other kinds of literature is its use of literary devices. Poems, like other kinds of creative writing , often make use of allegories and other kinds of figurative language to communicate themes. 

In many cases, poetry is most impactful when it’s listened to rather than read. With this in mind, poets often create sound, whether to be pleasing, jarring, or simply highlight key phrases or images through words. Read this short poem “The Cold Wind Blows” by Kelly Roper aloud and listen to the sounds the letters and words make: 

Who knows why the cold wind blows

Or where it goes, or what it knows.

It only flows in passionate throes

Until it finally slows and settles in repose.

Do you hear the repeated “ose” sound and how it mimics the sound of wind gusts? Poets create sound in a variety of ways, like alliteration , assonance, and consonance. 

Poetry has rhythm. That’s what often makes it so attractive to set to music. 

A poem’s rhythmic structure is known as its meter . Meter refers to:

  • The number of syllables in each line
  • The stressed and unstressed syllables in each line 

These syllables are grouped together to form feet , units that make up a line of poetry. A foot is generally two or three syllables, and each combination of two or three stressed and unstressed syllables has a unique name. 

You probably recognize the term iambic pentameter from English class. It comes up a lot in high school English classes because Shakespeare wrote in it frequently, and Shakespeare is frequently read in high school English classes. An iamb is a two-syllable foot where the second syllable is stressed: duh-DUH. Pentameter means that each line in the poem has five feet or ten total syllables. 

Iambic pentameter is just one of the many kinds of rhythm a poem can have . Other types of feet include the trochee , two syllables where the first syllable is stressed (DUH-duh), and dactyl , three syllables where only the first is stressed (DUH-duh-duh). When a poem only has one foot per line, it’s in monometer; when there are two feet per line, it’s in dimeter; and so on. 

Stressed and unstressed syllables aren’t the only way you can create rhythm in your poetry. Another technique poets frequently embrace is repetition. Repetition underscores the words being repeated, which could be a phrase or a single word. In her poem “Still I Rise”, Maya Angelou repeats the phrase “I rise” with increasing frequency as the poem progresses, changing it from “I’ll rise” in the first stanzas to a repeated “I rise” toward the ending, to emphasize her unbreakable spirit:

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

With poetry, rhythm and rhyme go hand in hand. Both create musicality in the poem, making it pleasurable to recite and listen to. 

Rhymes can appear anywhere in a poem, not just at the ends of alternating lines. Take a look at all the places Lewis Carrol uses rhymes in this excerpt from “Jabberwocky”:

One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.

When you’re reading poetry, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is its formatting. Simply put, poems just aren’t formatted the same way as prose. Sentences end in weird places, there are blank lines between the different sections, one word might have a line all to itself, or the words might be arranged in a shape that makes a picture on the page. 

One of poetry’s defining characteristics is that it doesn’t adhere to the same formatting that prose does. You (most likely) won’t find sentences and paragraphs in poetry. Instead, you’ll find stanzas, lines, and line breaks. 

A stanza is the poetic equivalent of a paragraph. It’s a group of lines that (usually) adheres to a specific rhyme or rhythm pattern. For example, a quatrain is a four-line stanza in which the second and fourth lines rhyme. An isometric stanza is a stanza of any length where each line has the same meter. 

Literary devices

Literary devices aren’t limited to prose—many, perhaps even most, poems incorporate one or more literary devices. Literary devices commonly found in poetry include:

  • Figurative language
  • Juxtaposition
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Personification

Often, poets use literary devices in conjunction with other poetic elements. One famous example of a poem that layers multiple literary devices is Margaret Atwood’s “[you fit into me]”:

you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

In the first stanza, Atwood uses a simile, a type of figurative language , to create an initially pleasant image: a hook and eye closure, a small metal hook that neatly fits into an appropriately sized metal loop to fasten clothing. Then the second stanza juxtaposes this with a jarring image: a fish hook plunged into an eyeball. These images together, formatted as two stark sections separated by a break, express the poem’s uncomfortable, visceral theme. 

Types of poetic forms

There are many different types of poems. Some have very strict style rules, while others are classified according to the topics they cover rather than their structure. When you’re writing poetry, keep the form you’re writing in mind as you brainstorm—with forms that involve rhyming or require a specific number of syllables, you’ll probably want to jot down a list of go-to words that fit into your chosen format before you start writing. 

A haiku is a three-line poem that always fits this format: The first and third lines contain five syllables and the second line contains seven syllables. 

A limerick is a five-line poem that follows a strict AABBA rhyme scheme. Though they often discuss humorous subjects, this isn’t a requirement—the only requirement is that it fits this precise rhyme pattern.  

A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that was often used by Shakespeare and Petrarch. Although a sonnet’s exact rhyme scheme varies from poem to poem, each sonnet has some kind of consistent rhyme pattern.

Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s  Citation Generator  ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing sonnets in Chicago , MLA , and APA styles.

Blank verse

Blank verse poetry is written in a specific meter that, as a rule, does not rhyme. Although this specific meter is often iambic pentameter, that isn’t a requirement for blank verse poetry—the only requirements are that it does not stray from its meter (whichever meter the poet chose) and that it doesn’t rhyme. 

With free verse, anything goes. When you read a poem that doesn’t appear to fit any specific format, you’re reading free verse poetry. 

An ode is a poem that celebrates a person, an event, or even an object. An ode uses vivid language to describe its subject. 

Elegies are poems that, like odes, pay tribute to specific subjects. However, rather than being purely celebratory, an elegy is generally a reflection on its subject’s death and includes themes of mourning and loss. 

How to write a poem

Writing a poem isn’t the same as writing a short story , an essay, an email, or any other type of writing. While each of these other kinds of writing requires a unique approach, they all have one thing in common: they’re prose. 

Poetry isn’t prose, as we explained above. And that’s what makes it feel like the wildcard of creative writing. 

With poetry, going through the standard writing process can feel like a creativity killer. That doesn’t mean you should just sit down, scrawl out a poem, and call it a day. On the contrary, when you’re writing poetry, you might find that skipping one or more stages in the traditional writing process will help you be more creative. 

Of course, you might also find that following the writing process helps you explore and organize your thoughts before you start to write. The usefulness of starting with brainstorming, then moving onto outlining, then starting to write only once you’ve got an outline varies from poet to poet and even poem to poem. Sometimes, inspiration strikes and the words just start flowing out of your mind and onto the page. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started and write your next poem:

1 Decide what you want to write about

Unless you’ve been assigned to write a poem about a specific topic, the first step in writing a poem is determining a topic to write about. Look for inspiration around you, perhaps in nature, your community, current events, or the people in your life. Take notes on how different things make you feel and what they drive you to think about. 

Freewriting can be a helpful exercise when you’re searching for the perfect topic to write a poem about. You can use a writing prompt as a jumping-off point for your freewriting or just jot down a word (or a few) and see where your mind guides your pen, stream-of-consciousness style. 

Once you have a topic and a theme in mind, the next step is to determine which kind of poem is the best way to express it. 

2 Determine the best format for your topic

Your poem doesn’t have to adhere to any specific format, but choosing a format and sticking to it might be the way to go. By opting to write in a particular format, like a sonnet or a limerick, for example, you constrain your writing and force yourself to find a way to creatively express your theme while fitting that format’s constraints. 

3 Explore words, rhymes, and rhythm

If you’ve decided to write your poem in a specific format, read other poems in that format to give yourself a template to follow. A specific rhythm or rhyme scheme can highlight themes and clever wordplay in your poem. For example, you might determine that a limerick is the most effective way to make your readers laugh at your satirical poem because the format feels like it has a built-in punchline. 

4 Write the poem

Now it’s time to write! Whether you opt for using a pen and paper, typing on a laptop, or tapping on your phone, give yourself some uninterrupted time to focus on writing the poem. 

Don’t expect to write something perfect on the first try. Instead, focus on getting your words out. Even if your lines don’t rhyme perfectly or you’ve got too many or too few syllables to fit the format you chose, write what’s on your mind. The theme your words are expressing is more important than the specific words themselves, and you can always revise your poem later. 

5 Edit what you’ve written

Once you have a draft, the next step is to edit your poem. You don’t have to jump right from writing to editing—in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Give yourself a break. Then in a day or two, come back to your poem with a critical eye. By that, we mean read it again, taking note of any spots where you can replace a word with a stronger one, tighten your rhythm, make your imagery more vivid, or even remove words or stanzas that aren’t adding anything to the poem. When you do this, you might realize that the poem would work better in another form or that your poem would be stronger if it rhymed . . . or if it didn’t. 

Reading your poem aloud can help you edit it more effectively because when you listen to it, you’ll hear the poem’s rhythm and quickly notice any spots where the rhythm doesn’t quite work. This can help you move words around or even completely restructure the poem. 

If you’re comfortable sharing your poetry with others, have somebody else read your poem and give you feedback on ways you can improve it. You might even want to join a writing group, online or off, where you can workshop your poetry with other writers. Often, other people can spot strengths and weaknesses in your work that you might not have noticed because your perspective is too close to the poem. A more distanced perspective, as well as perspectives from readers and writers of different backgrounds, can offer up ways to make your writing stronger that you hadn’t considered before. 

Give your writing extra spark

When you’re writing poetry, you’re allowed to break the rules. In fact, you’re encouraged to break the rules. Breaking the rules artistically is one of the key differences between writing poetry and writing prose. 

But making mistakes isn’t the same as breaking the rules. Mistakes in your poetry, like misspelled words and incorrect punctuation, can distract readers from what you’re communicating through your words. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Grammarly catches any mistakes or tone inconsistencies in your work and suggests ways you can make your writing stronger. The outcome: writing with confidence and getting better at breaking the rules on purpose.

poetry writing help

To learn how to write a poem step-by-step, let’s start where all poets start: the basics.

This article is an in-depth introduction to how to write a poem. We first answer the question, “What is poetry?” We then discuss the literary elements of poetry, and showcase some different approaches to the writing process—including our own seven-step process on how to write a poem step by step.

So, how do you write a poem? Let’s start with what poetry is.

What Poetry Is

It’s important to know what poetry is—and isn’t—before we discuss how to write a poem. The following quote defines poetry nicely:

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” —Former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove

Poetry Conveys Feeling

People sometimes imagine poetry as stuffy, abstract, and difficult to understand. Some poetry may be this way, but in reality poetry isn’t about being obscure or confusing. Poetry is a lyrical, emotive method of self-expression, using the elements of poetry to highlight feelings and ideas.

A poem should make the reader feel something.

In other words, a poem should make the reader feel something—not by telling them what to feel, but by evoking feeling directly.

Here’s a contemporary poem that, despite its simplicity (or perhaps because of its simplicity), conveys heartfelt emotion.

Poetry is Language at its Richest and Most Condensed

Unlike longer prose writing (such as a short story, memoir, or novel), poetry needs to impact the reader in the richest and most condensed way possible. Here’s a famous quote that enforces that distinction:

“Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in the best order.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So poetry isn’t the place to be filling in long backstories or doing leisurely scene-setting. In poetry, every single word carries maximum impact.

Poetry Uses Unique Elements

Poetry is not like other kinds of writing: it has its own unique forms, tools, and principles. Together, these elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

The elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

Most poetry is written in verse , rather than prose . This means that it uses line breaks, alongside rhythm or meter, to convey something to the reader. Rather than letting the text break at the end of the page (as prose does), verse emphasizes language through line breaks.

Poetry further accentuates its use of language through rhyme and meter. Poetry has a heightened emphasis on the musicality of language itself: its sounds and rhythms, and the feelings they carry.

These devices—rhyme, meter, and line breaks—are just a few of the essential elements of poetry, which we’ll explore in more depth now.

Understanding the Elements of Poetry

As we explore how to write a poem step by step, these three major literary elements of poetry should sit in the back of your mind:

  • Rhythm (Sound, Rhyme, and Meter)
  • Literary Devices

1. Elements of Poetry: Rhythm

“Rhythm” refers to the lyrical, sonic qualities of the poem. How does the poem move and breathe; how does it feel on the tongue?

Traditionally, poets relied on rhyme and meter to accomplish a rhythmically sound poem. Free verse poems—which are poems that don’t require a specific length, rhyme scheme, or meter—only became popular in the West in the 20th century, so while rhyme and meter aren’t requirements of modern poetry, they are required of certain poetry forms.

Poetry is capable of evoking certain emotions based solely on the sounds it uses. Words can sound sinister, percussive, fluid, cheerful, dour, or any other noise/emotion in the complex tapestry of human feeling.

Take, for example, this excerpt from the poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” by Walt Whitman:

elements of poetry: sound

Red — “b” sounds

Blue — “th” sounds

Green — “w” and “ew” sounds

Purple — “s” sounds

Orange — “d” and “t” sounds

This poem has a lot of percussive, disruptive sounds that reinforce the beating of the drums. The “b,” “d,” “w,” and “t” sounds resemble these drum beats, while the “th” and “s” sounds are sneakier, penetrating a deeper part of the ear. The cacophony of this excerpt might not sound “lyrical,” but it does manage to command your attention, much like drums beating through a city might sound.

To learn more about consonance and assonance, euphony and cacophony, and the other uses of sound, take a look at our article “12 Literary Devices in Poetry.”

It would be a crime if you weren’t primed on the ins and outs of rhymes. “Rhyme” refers to words that have similar pronunciations, like this set of words: sound, hound, browned, pound, found, around.

Many poets assume that their poetry has to rhyme, and it’s true that some poems require a complex rhyme scheme. However, rhyme isn’t nearly as important to poetry as it used to be. Most traditional poetry forms—sonnets, villanelles , rimes royal, etc.—rely on rhyme, but contemporary poetry has largely strayed from the strict rhyme schemes of yesterday.

There are three types of rhymes:

  • Homophony: Homophones are words that are spelled differently but sound the same, like “tail” and “tale.” Homophones often lead to commonly misspelled words .
  • Perfect Rhyme: Perfect rhymes are word pairs that are identical in sound except for one minor difference. Examples include “slant and pant,” “great and fate,” and “shower and power.”
  • Slant Rhyme: Slant rhymes are word pairs that use the same sounds, but their final vowels have different pronunciations. For example, “abut” and “about” are nearly-identical in sound, but are pronounced differently enough that they don’t completely rhyme. This is also known as an oblique rhyme or imperfect rhyme.

Meter refers to the stress patterns of words. Certain poetry forms require that the words in the poem follow a certain stress pattern, meaning some syllables are stressed and others are unstressed.

What is “stressed” and “unstressed”? A stressed syllable is the sound that you emphasize in a word. The bolded syllables in the following words are stressed, and the unbolded syllables are unstressed:

  • Un• stressed
  • Plat• i• tud• i•nous
  • De •act•i• vate
  • Con• sti •tu• tion•al

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is important to traditional poetry forms. This chart, copied from our article on form in poetry , summarizes the different stress patterns of poetry.

2. Elements of Poetry: Form

“Form” refers to the structure of the poem. Is the poem a sonnet, a villanelle, a free verse piece, a slam poem, a contrapuntal, a ghazal, a blackout poem , or something new and experimental?

Form also refers to the line breaks and stanza breaks in a poem. Unlike prose, where the end of the page decides the line breaks, poets have control over when one line ends and a new one begins. The words that begin and end each line will emphasize the sounds, images, and ideas that are important to the poet.

To learn more about rhyme, meter, and poetry forms, read our full article on the topic:

3. Elements of Poetry: Literary Devices

“Poetry: the best words in the best order.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

How does poetry express complex ideas in concise, lyrical language? Literary devices—like metaphor, symbolism, juxtaposition, irony, and hyperbole—help make poetry possible. Learn how to write and master these devices here:

How to Write a Poem, in 7 Steps

To condense the elements of poetry into an actual poem, we’re going to follow a seven-step approach. However, it’s important to know that every poet’s process is different. While the steps presented here are a logical path to get from idea to finished poem, they’re not the only tried-and-true method of poetry writing. Poets can—and should!—modify these steps and generate their own writing process.

Nonetheless, if you’re new to writing poetry or want to explore a different writing process, try your hand at our approach. Here’s how to write a poem step by step!

1. Devise a Topic

The easiest way to start writing a poem is to begin with a topic.

However, devising a topic is often the hardest part. What should your poem be about? And where can you find ideas?

Here are a few places to search for inspiration:

  • Other Works of Literature: Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it’s part of a larger literary tapestry, and can absolutely be influenced by other works. For example, read “The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Hayes , a poem that was inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool.”
  • Real-World Events: Poetry, especially contemporary poetry, has the power to convey new and transformative ideas about the world. Take the poem “A Cigarette” by Ilya Kaminsky , which finds community in a warzone like the eye of a hurricane.
  • Your Life: What would poetry be if not a form of memoir? Many contemporary poets have documented their lives in verse. Take Sylvia Plath’s poem “Full Fathom Five” —a daring poem for its time, as few writers so boldly criticized their family as Plath did.
  • The Everyday and Mundane: Poetry isn’t just about big, earth-shattering events: much can be said about mundane events, too. Take “Ode to Shea Butter” by Angel Nafis , a poem that celebrates the beautiful “everydayness” of moisturizing.
  • Nature: The Earth has always been a source of inspiration for poets, both today and in antiquity. Take “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver , which finds meaning in nature’s quiet rituals.
  • Writing Exercises: Prompts and exercises can help spark your creativity, even if the poem you write has nothing to do with the prompt! Here’s 24 writing exercises to get you started.

At this point, you’ve got a topic for your poem. Maybe it’s a topic you’re passionate about, and the words pour from your pen and align themselves into a perfect sonnet! It’s not impossible—most poets have a couple of poems that seemed to write themselves.

However, it’s far more likely you’re searching for the words to talk about this topic. This is where journaling comes in.

Sit in front of a blank piece of paper, with nothing but the topic written on the top. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes and put down all of your thoughts related to the topic. Don’t stop and think for too long, and try not to obsess over finding the right words: what matters here is emotion, the way your subconscious grapples with the topic.

At the end of this journaling session, go back through everything you wrote, and highlight whatever seems important to you: well-written phrases, poignant moments of emotion, even specific words that you want to use in your poem.

Journaling is a low-risk way of exploring your topic without feeling pressured to make it sound poetic. “Sounding poetic” will only leave you with empty language: your journal allows you to speak from the heart. Everything you need for your poem is already inside of you, the journaling process just helps bring it out!

3. Think About Form

As one of the elements of poetry, form plays a crucial role in how the poem is both written and read. Have you ever wanted to write a sestina ? How about a contrapuntal, or a double cinquain, or a series of tanka? Your poem can take a multitude of forms, including the beautifully unstructured free verse form; while form can be decided in the editing process, it doesn’t hurt to think about it now.

4. Write the First Line

After a productive journaling session, you’ll be much more acquainted with the state of your heart. You might have a line in your journal that you really want to begin with, or you might want to start fresh and refer back to your journal when you need to! Either way, it’s time to begin.

What should the first line of your poem be? There’s no strict rule here—you don’t have to start your poem with a certain image or literary device. However, here’s a few ways that poets often begin their work:

  • Set the Scene: Poetry can tell stories just like prose does. Anne Carson does just this in her poem “Lines,” situating the scene in a conversation with the speaker’s mother.
  • Start at the Conflict: Right away, tell the reader where it hurts most. Margaret Atwood does this in “Ghost Cat,” a poem about aging.
  • Start With a Contradiction: Juxtaposition and contrast are two powerful tools in the poet’s toolkit. Joan Larkin’s poem “Want” begins and ends with these devices. Carlos Gimenez Smith also begins his poem “Entanglement” with a juxtaposition.
  • Start With Your Title: Some poets will use the title as their first line, like Ron Padgett’s poem “Ladies and Gentlemen in Outer Space.”

There are many other ways to begin poems, so play around with different literary devices, and when you’re stuck, turn to other poetry for inspiration.

5. Develop Ideas and Devices

You might not know where your poem is going until you finish writing it. In the meantime, stick to your literary devices. Avoid using too many abstract nouns, develop striking images, use metaphors and similes to strike interesting comparisons, and above all, speak from the heart.

6. Write the Closing Line

Some poems end “full circle,” meaning that the images the poet used in the beginning are reintroduced at the end. Gwendolyn Brooks does this in her poem “my dreams, my work, must wait till after hell.”

Yet, many poets don’t realize what their poems are about until they write the ending line . Poetry is a search for truth, especially the hard truths that aren’t easily explained in casual speech. Your poem, too, might not be finished until it comes across a necessary truth, so write until you strike the heart of what you feel, and the poem will come to its own conclusion.

7. Edit, Edit, Edit!

Do you have a working first draft of your poem? Congratulations! Getting your feelings onto the page is a feat in itself.

Yet, no guide on how to write a poem is complete without a note on editing. If you plan on sharing or publishing your work, or if you simply want to edit your poem to near-perfection, keep these tips in mind.

  • Adjectives and Adverbs: Use these parts of speech sparingly. Most imagery shouldn’t rely on adjectives and adverbs, because the image should be striking and vivid on its own, without too much help from excess language.
  • Concrete Line Breaks: Line breaks help emphasize important words, making certain images and ideas clearer to the reader. As a general rule, most of your lines should start and end with concrete words—nouns and verbs especially.
  • Stanza Breaks: Stanzas are like paragraphs to poetry. A stanza can develop a new idea, contrast an existing idea, or signal a transition in the poem’s tone. Make sure each stanza clearly stands for something as a unit of the poem.
  • Mixed Metaphors: A mixed metaphor is when two metaphors occupy the same idea, making the poem unnecessarily difficult to understand. Here’s an example of a mixed metaphor: “a watched clock never boils.” The meaning can be discerned, but the image remains unclear. Be wary of mixed metaphors—though some poets (like Shakespeare) make them work, they’re tricky and often disruptive.
  • Abstractions: Above all, avoid using excessively abstract language. It’s fine to use the word “love” 2 or 3 times in a poem, but don’t use it twice in every stanza. Let the imagery in your poem express your feelings and ideas, and only use abstractions as brief connective tissue in otherwise-concrete writing.

Lastly, don’t feel pressured to “do something” with your poem. Not all poems need to be shared and edited. Poetry doesn’t have to be “good,” either—it can simply be a statement of emotions by the poet, for the poet. Publishing is an admirable goal, but also, give yourself permission to write bad poems, unedited poems, abstract poems, and poems with an audience of one. Write for yourself—editing is for the other readers.

How to Write a Poem: Different Approaches and Philosophies

Poetry is the oldest literary form, pre-dating prose, theater, and the written word itself. As such, there are many different schools of thought when it comes to writing poetry. You might be wondering how to write a poem through different methods and approaches: here’s four philosophies to get you started.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Emotion

If you asked a Romantic Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the spontaneous emotion of the soul.

The Romantic Era viewed poetry as an extension of human emotion—a way of perceiving the world through unbridled creativity, centered around the human soul. While many Romantic poets used traditional forms in their poetry, the Romantics weren’t afraid to break from tradition, either.

To write like a Romantic, feel—and feel intensely. The words will follow the emotions, as long as a blank page sits in front of you.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Stream of Consciousness

If you asked a Modernist poet, “What is poetry?” they would tell you that poetry is the search for complex truths.

Modernist Poets were keen on the use of poetry as a window into the mind. A common technique of the time was “Stream of Consciousness,” which is unfiltered writing that flows directly from the poet’s inner dialogue. By tapping into one’s subconscious, the poet might uncover deeper truths and emotions they were initially unaware of.

Depending on who you are as a writer, Stream of Consciousness can be tricky to master, but this guide covers the basics of how to write using this technique.

How to Write a Poem: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of documenting the mind, rather than trying to control or edit what it produces. This practice was popularized by the Beat Poets , who in turn were inspired by Eastern philosophies and Buddhist teachings. If you asked a Beat Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the human consciousness, unadulterated.

To learn more about the art of leaving your mind alone , take a look at our guide on Mindfulness, from instructor Marc Olmsted.

How to Write a Poem: Poem as Camera Lens

Many contemporary poets use poetry as a camera lens, documenting global events and commenting on both politics and injustice. If you find yourself itching to write poetry about the modern day, press your thumb against the pulse of the world and write what you feel.

Additionally, check out these two essays by Electric Literature on the politics of poetry:

  • What Can Poetry Do That Politics Can’t?
  • Why All Poems Are Political (TL;DR: Poetry is an urgent expression of freedom).

Okay, I Know How to Write a Good Poem. What Next?

Poetry, like all art forms, takes practice and dedication. You might write a poem you enjoy now, and think it’s awfully written 3 years from now; you might also write some of your best work after reading this guide. Poetry is fickle, but the pen lasts forever, so write poems as long as you can!

Once you understand how to write a poem, and after you’ve drafted some pieces that you’re proud of and ready to share, here are some next steps you can take.

Publish in Literary Journals

Want to see your name in print? These literary journals house some of the best poetry being published today.

Assemble and Publish a Manuscript

A poem can tell a story. So can a collection of poems. If you’re interested in publishing a poetry book, learn how to compose and format one here:

Join a Writing Community is an online community of writers, and we’d love it if you shared your poetry with us! Join us on Facebook and check out our upcoming poetry courses .

Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists to educate and uplift society. The world is waiting for your voice, so find a group and share your work!

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Sean Glatch


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super useful! love these articles 💕

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Indeed, very helpful, consize. I could not say more than thank you.

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I’ve never read a better guide on how to write poetry step by step. Not only does it give great tips, but it also provides helpful links! Thank you so much.

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Thank you very much, Hamna! I’m so glad this guide was helpful for you.

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Very inspirational and marvelous tips

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Thank you super tips very helpful.

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I have never gone through the steps of writing poetry like this, I will take a closer look at your post.

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Beautiful! Thank you! I’m really excited to try journaling as a starter step x

[…] How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step […]

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This is really helpful, thanks so much

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Extremely thorough! Nice job.

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Thank you so much for sharing your awesome tips for beginner writers!

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People must reboot this and bookmark it. Your writing and explanation is detailed to the core. Thanks for helping me understand different poetic elements. While reading, actually, I start thinking about how my husband construct his songs and why other artists lack that organization (or desire to be better). Anyway, this gave me clarity.

I’m starting to use poetry as an outlet for my blogs, but I also have to keep in mind I’m transitioning from a blogger to a poetic sweet kitty potato (ha). It’s a unique transition, but I’m so used to writing a lot, it’s strange to see an open blog post with a lot of lines and few paragraphs.

Anyway, thanks again!

I’m happy this article was so helpful, Eternity! Thanks for commenting, and best of luck with your poetry blog.

Yours in verse, Sean

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One of the best articles I read on how to write poems. And it is totally step by step process which is easy to read and understand.

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Thanks for the step step explanation in how to write poems it’s a very helpful to me and also for everyone one. THANKYOU

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Totally detailed and in a simple language told the best way how to write poems. It is a guide that one should read and follow. It gives the detailed guidance about how to write poems. One of the best articles written on how to write poems.

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what a guidance thank you so much now i can write a poem thank you again again and again

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The most inspirational and informative article I have ever read in the 21st century.It gives the most relevent,practical, comprehensive and effective insights and guides to aspiring writers.

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Thank you so much. This is so useful to me a poetry

[…] Write a short story/poem (Here are some tips) […]

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It was very helpful and am willing to try it out for my writing Thanks ❤️

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Thank you so much. This is so helpful to me, and am willing to try it out for my writing .

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Absolutely constructive, direct, and so useful as I’m striving to develop a recent piece. Thank you!

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thank you for your explanation……,love it

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Really great. Nothing less.

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5 Tips for Poetry Writing: How to Get Started Writing Poems

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Hannah Yang

A beginner's guide to poetry

Poetry is a daunting art form to break into.

There are technically no rules for how to write a poem, but despite that—or perhaps because of it—learning how to write a successful poem might feel more difficult than learning how to write a successful essay or story.

There are many reasons to try your hand at poetry, even if you’re primarily a prose writer. Here are just a few:

  • Practice writing stronger descriptions and imagery
  • Unlock a new side of your creative writing practice
  • Learn how to wield language in a more nuanced way

Learning how to write poetry may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we’ll cover five of our favorite tips to get started writing poetry.

How Do You Start Writing Poetry?

How do you write a poem from a new perspective, how do you write a meaningful poem, how do you write a poem about a theme, what are some different types of poetry, tip 1: focus on concrete imagery.

One of the best ways to start writing poetry is to use concrete images that appeal to the five senses.

The idea of starting with the specific might feel counterintuitive, because many people think of poetry as a way to describe abstract ideas, such as death, joy, or sorrow.

Examples of abstract words

It certainly can be. But each of these concepts has been written about extensively before. Try sitting down and writing an original poem about joy—it’s hard to find something new to say about it.

If you write about a specific experience you’ve had that made you feel joy, that will almost certainly be unique, because nobody has lived the same experiences you have.

That’s what makes concrete imagery so powerful in poetry.

A concrete image is a detail that has a basis in something real or tangible. It could be the texture of your daughter’s hair as you braid it in the morning, or the smell of a food that reminds you of home.

The more specific the image is, the more vivid and effective the poem will become.

Examples of concrete thoughts from abstract words

Concrete imagery: Example

Harlem by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Notice how Langston Hughes doesn’t directly write about dreams, except for the very first line. After the first line, he uses concrete images that are very specific and appeal to the five senses: “dry up like a raisin in the sun,” “stink like rotten meat,” “sags like a heavy load.”

He conveys a deeper message about an abstract concept—dreams—using these specific, tangible images.

Concrete Imagery: Exercise

Examine your surroundings. Describe what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.

Through these concrete images, try to evoke a specific feeling (e.g., nostalgia, boredom, happiness) without ever naming that feeling in the poem.

Once you've finished writing, you can use ProWritingAid’s Sensory Check to see which of the five senses you've used the most in your imagery. Most writers favor one or two senses, like in the example below, which can resonate with some readers but alienate others.

ProWritingAid's Sensory Check using I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to try the Sensory Check.

Bonus Tip: Start with a free verse poem, which is a poem with no set format or rhyme scheme. You can punctuate it the same way you would punctuate normal prose. Free verse is a great option for beginners, because it lets you write freely without limitations.

Tip 2: Play with Perspective

A persona poem is a poem told in the first-person POV (point of view) from the perspective of anything or anyone. This could include a famous person, a figure from mythology, or even an inanimate object.

The word persona comes from the Latin word for mask . When you write a persona poem, it’s like you’re putting on a mask to see the world through a new lens.

What is a persona poem

If you’re a new poet and you haven’t found your own voice yet, a persona poem is a great way to experiment with a unique style.

Some persona poems are narrative poems, which tell a story from a specific point of view. Others are lyric poems, which focus more on the style and sound of the poem instead of telling a story.

You can write from the perspective of a pop star, a politician, or a figure from fable or myth. You can try to imagine what it feels like to be a pair of jeans or a lawn mower or a fountain pen. There are no limits except your own creativity.

Types of persona poems

Play with Perspective: Example

Anne Hathaway by Carol Ann Duffy

Item I gyve unto my wief my second best bed … (from Shakespeare’s will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world of forests, castles, torchlight, cliff-tops, seas where he would dive for pearls. My lover’s words were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme to his, now echo, assonance; his touch a verb dancing in the centre of a noun. Some nights I dreamed he’d written me, the bed a page beneath his writer’s hands. Romance and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste. In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on, dribbling their prose. My living laughing love— I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head as he held me upon that next best bed.

In this poem, Carol Ann Duffy writes from the perspective of Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare.

She imagines what the wife of this famous literary figure might think and feel, with lines like “Some nights I dreamed he’d written me.”

The poem isn’t written in Shakespearean English, but it uses diction and vocabulary that’s more old-fashioned than the English we speak today, to evoke the feeling of Shakespeare’s time period.

Play with Perspective: Exercise

Write a persona poem from the perspective of a fictional character out of a book or movie. You can tell an important story from their life, or simply try to capture the feeling of being in their head for a moment.

If this character lives in a different time period or speaks in a specific dialect, try to capture that in the poem’s voice.

Tip 3: Write from Life

The best poems are the ones that feel authentic and come from a place of truth.

Brainstorm your own personal experiences. Are there any stories from your life that evoke strong feelings for you? How can you tell that story through a poem?

Examples of personal experiences

Try to avoid clichés here. If you want to write about a universal experience or feeling, try to find an entry point into that feeling that’s unique to your life.

Maybe your first hobby was associated with a specific pair of shoes. Maybe your first encounter with shame came from breaking a specific promise to your grandfather. Any of these details could be the launching point for a poem.

Write from Life: Example

Discord in Childhood By D.H. Lawrence

Outside the house an ash-tree hung its terrible whips, And at night when the wind arose, the lash of the tree Shrieked and slashed the wind, as a ship’s Weird rigging in a storm shrieks hideously.

Within the house two voices arose in anger, a slender lash Whistling delirious rage, and the dreadful sound Of a thick lash booming and bruising, until it drowned The other voice in a silence of blood, ’neath the noise of the ash.

Here, D.H. Lawrence writes about the suffering he endured as a child listening to his parents arguing. He channels his own memories and experiences to create a profoundly relatable piece.

Write from Life: Exercise

Go to your phone’s camera roll, or a physical photo album, and find a photo from your life that speaks to you. Write a poem inspired by that photo.

What does that part of your life mean to you? What were your thoughts and feelings at that point in your life?

Tip 4: Save the Theme for the End

In a poem, the last line is often the most important. These are the words that echo in your reader’s head after they’re done reading.

Many poems will tell a story or depict a series of images, allowing you to draw your own conclusions about what it’s trying to say, and then conclude with the takeaway at the very end. Think of it like a fable you might tell a child—often, the moral of the story comes at the end.

Tip for writing the last line of a poem

In sonnets it’s a common trend for the final couplet to summarize the theme of the whole poem.

Save the Theme: Example

Resumé by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Here, Dorothy Parker doesn’t make the poem’s meaning clear until the very last line: “You might as well live.” The poem feels fun, almost like a song, and its true meaning doesn’t become obvious until after you’ve finished reading the poem.

Save the Theme: Exercise

Pick your favorite proverb or adage, such as “Actions speak louder than words.” Write a poem that uses that proverb or adage as the closing line.

Common adages

Until the closing line, don’t comment on the deeper meaning in the rest of the poem—instead, tell a story that builds up to that theme.

Tip 5: Try a Poetic Form

Up until now, we’ve been writing in blank verse because it’s the most freeing. Sometimes, though, adding limitations can spark creativity too.

You can use a traditional poetic form to create the structure and shape of your poem.

If you have a limited number of lines to use, you’ll concentrate more on being concise and focused. Great poetry is minimalistic—no word is unnecessary. Using a form is a way to practice paring back to the words you absolutely need, and to start thinking about sound and rhyme.

The basic elements of a poem

The rules of a poetic form are never set in stone. It’s okay to experiment, and to pick and choose which rules you want to follow. If you want to use a form’s rhyme scheme but ignore its syllable count, for example, that’s perfectly fine.

Let’s look at some examples of poetic forms you can try, and the benefits of each one.

The haiku is a form of Japanese poetry made of three short, unrhymed lines. Traditionally, the first line contains 5 syllables, the second line contains 7 syllables, and the last contains 5 syllables.

Because each haiku must be incredibly concise, this form is a great way to practice economy of language and to learn how to convey a lot with a little. Even more so than with most other poetic forms, you have to think about each word and whether or not it pulls its weight in the poem as a whole.

The Old Pond by Matsuo Bashō

An old silent pond A frog jumps into the pond— Splash! Silence again.

What is a haiku?

The limerick is a 5-line poem with a sing-songy rhyme scheme and syllable count.

Limericks tend to be humorous and witty, so if you’re usually a comedic writer, they can be a great form for learning how to write poetry. You can treat the poem as a joke that builds up to a punchline.

Untitled Limerick by Edward Lear

There was an Old Man with a beard Who said, "It is just as I feared! Two Owls and a Hen, Four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard!"

how to write a limerick template

The sonnet is a 14-line poetic form, invented in Italy in the 13th century.

There are multiple types of sonnet. One of the most well-known forms is the Shakespearean sonnet, which is divided into three quatrains (4-line stanzas) and one couplet (2-line stanza).

Almost every professional poet has tried a sonnet at some point, from classical poets such as William Shakespeare , John Milton , and John Donne , as well as contemporary poets such as Kim Addonizio , R.S. Gwynn , and Cathy Park Hong .

Sonnets are great for practicing more advanced poetry. Their form forces you to think about rhyme and meter.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no, it is an ever fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand’ring barque, Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken. Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

what is a shakespearean sonnet?

The villanelle is a 19-line poem with two lines that recur over and over throughout the poem.

The word “villanelle” comes from the Italian villanella , meaning rustic song or dance, because the two lines that are repeated resemble the chorus of a folk song. Using this form helps you to think about the sound and musicality of your writing.

Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, And arbitrary blackness gallops in: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade: Exit seraphim and Satan’s men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said, But I grow old and I forget your name. (I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. (I think I made you up inside my head.)

Try a Poetic Form: Exercise

Pick your favorite poetic form (sonnet, limerick, haiku, or villanelle) and try writing a poem in that structure.

Remember that you don’t have to follow all the rules—pick the ones that spark your imagination, and ignore the ones that don’t.

These are our five favorite tips to get started writing poems. Feel free to try each of them, or to mix and match them to create something entirely new.

Have you tried any of these poetry methods before? Which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.

Take your writing to the next level:

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20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..

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Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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Last updated on Nov 23, 2022

How to Write a Poem: Get Tips from a Published Poet

Ever wondered how to write a poem? For writers who want to dig deep, composing verse lets you sift the sand of your experience for new glimmers of insight. And if you’re in it for less lofty reasons, shaping a stanza from start to finish can teach you to have fun with language in totally new ways.

To help demystify the subtle art of writing verse, we chatted with Reedsy editor (and published poet) Lauren Stroh . In 8 simple steps, here's how to write a poem:

1. Brainstorm your starting point

2. free-write in prose first, 3. choose your poem’s form and style, 4. read for inspiration, 5. write for an audience of one — you, 6. read your poem out loud, 7. take a break to refresh your mind, 8. have fun revising your poem.

Qap_5aHX1q4 Video Thumb

If you’re struggling to write your poem in order from the first line to the last, a good trick is opening with whichever starting point your brain can latch onto as it learns to think in verse.

Your starting point can be a line or a phrase you want to work into your poem, though it doesn’t have to take the form of language at all. It might be a picture in your head, as particular as the curl of hair over your daughter’s ear as she sleeps, or as capacious as the sea. It can even be a complicated feeling you want to render with precision — or maybe it's a memory you return to again and again. Think of this starting point as the "why" behind your poem, your impetus for writing it in the first place.

If you’re worried your starting point isn’t grand enough to merit an entire poem, stop right there. After all, literary giants have wrung verse out of every topic under the sun, from the disappointments of a post- Odyssey Odysseus to illicitly eaten refrigerated plums .

How to Write a Poem | Tennyson's "Ulysses" revisits a character from Greek epic, but that's only one of the topics you can address in your poetry

As Lauren Stroh sees it, your experience is more than worthy of being immortalized in verse.

"I think the most successful poems articulate something true about the human experience and help us look at the everyday world in new and exciting ways."

It may seem counterintuitive but if you struggle to write down lines that resonate, perhaps start with some prose writing first. Take this time to delve into the image, feeling, or theme at the heart of your poem, and learn to pin it down with language. Give yourself a chance to mull things over before actually writing the poem. 

Take 10 minutes and jot down anything that comes to mind when you think of your starting point. You can write in paragraphs, dash off bullet points, or even sketch out a mind map . The purpose of this exercise isn’t to produce an outline: it’s to generate a trove of raw material, a repertoire of loosely connected fragments to draw upon as you draft your poem in earnest.

Silence your inner critic for now

And since this is raw material, the last thing you should do is censor yourself. Catch yourself scoffing at a turn of phrase, overthinking a rhetorical device , or mentally grousing, “This metaphor will never make it into the final draft”? Tell that inner critic to hush for now and jot it down anyway. You just might be able to refine that slapdash, off-the-cuff idea into a sharp and poignant line.

Whether you’ve free-written your way to a beginning or you’ve got a couple of lines jotted down, before you complete a whole first draft of your poem, take some time to think about form and style. 

The form of a poem often carries a lot of meaning beyond the structural "rules" that it offers the writer. The rhyme patterns of sonnets — and the Shakespearean influence over the form — usually lend themselves to passionate pronouncements of love, whether merry or bleak. On the other hand, acrostic poems are often more cheeky because of the secret meaning that it hides in plain sight. 

Even if your material begs for a poem without formal restrictions, you’ll still have to decide on the texture and tone of your language. Free verse, after all, is as diverse a form as the novel, ranging from the breathless maximalism of Walt Whitman to the cool austerity of H.D . Where, on this spectrum, will your poem fall?

How to Write a Poem | H.D.'s poetry shows off a linguistically sparse, imagistically concrete style

Choosing a form and tone for your poem early on can help you work with some kind of structure to imbue more meanings to your lines. And if you’ve used free-writing to generate some raw material for yourself, a structure can give you the guidance you need to organize your notes into a poem. 

A poem isn’t a nonfiction book or a historical novel: you don’t have to accumulate reams of research to write a good one. That said, a little bit of outside reading can stave off writer’s block and keep you inspired throughout the writing process.

Build a short, personalized syllabus around your poem’s form and subject. Say you’re writing a sensorily rich, linguistically spare bit of free verse about a relationship of mutual jealousy between mother and daughter. In that case, you’ll want to read some key Imagist poems , alongside some poems that sketch out complicated visions of parenthood in unsentimental terms.

How to Write a Poem | Ezra Pound's two-line poem is a masterclass in using everyday language in verse

And if you don’t want to limit yourself to poems similar in form and style to your own, Lauren has you covered with an all-purpose reading list:

  • The Dream of a Common Languag e by Adrienne Rich
  • Anything you can get your hands on by Mary Oliver
  • The poems “ First Turn to Me ” and “ You Jerk You Didn’t Call Me Up ” by Bernadette Mayer.
  • I often gift Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara to friends who write.
  • Everyone should read the interviews from the Paris Review’s archives . It’s just nice to observe how people familiar with language talk when they’re not performing, working, or warming up to write.

Even with preparation, the pressure of actually producing verse can still awaken your inner metrophobe (or poetry-fearer). What if people don’t understand — or even misinterpret — what you’re trying to say? What if they don’t feel drawn to your work? To keep the anxiety at bay, Lauren suggests writing for yourself, not for an external audience.

"I absolutely believe that poets can determine the validity of their own success if they are changed by the work they are producing themselves; if they are challenged by it; or if it calls into question their ethics, their habits, or their relationship to the living world. And personally, my life has certainly been changed by certain lines I’ve had the bravery to think and then write — and those moments are when I’ve felt most like I’ve made it."

You might eventually polish your work if you decide to publish your poetry down the line. (If you do, definitely check out the rest of this guide for tips and a list of magazines to submit to.) But as your first draft comes together, treat it like it’s meant for your eyes only.

A good poem doesn’t have to be pretty: maybe an easy, melodic loveliness isn’t your aim. It should, however, come alive on the page with a consciously crafted rhythm, whether hymn-like or discordant. To achieve that, read your poem out loud — at first, line by line, and then all together, as a complete text.

How to Write a Poem | Emily Dickinson's poetry shows off her extraordinary musicality

Trying out every line against your ear can help you weigh out a choice between synonyms — getting you to notice, say, the watery sound of “glacial”, the brittleness of “icy,” the solidity of “cold”.

Reading out loud can also help you troubleshoot line breaks that just don't feel right. Is the line unnaturally long, forcing you to rush through it or pause in the middle for a hurried inhale? If so, do you like that destabilizing effect, or do you want to literally give the reader some room to breathe? Testing these variations aloud is perhaps the only way to answer questions like these. 

While it’s incredibly exciting to complete a draft of your poem, and you might be itching to dive back in and edit it, it’s always advisable to take a break first. You don’t have to turn completely away from writing if you don’t want to. Take a week to chip away at your novel or even muse idly on your next poetic project — so long as you distance yourself from this poem a little while. 

This is because, by this point, you’ve probably read out every line so many times the meaning has leached out of the syllables. With the time away, you let your mind refresh so that you can approach the piece with sharper attention and more ideas to refine it. 

At the end of the day, even if you write in a well-established form, poetry is about experimenting with language, both written and spoken. Lauren emphasizes that revising a poem is thus an open-ended process that requires patience — and a sense of play. 

"Have fun. Play. Be patient. Don’t take it seriously, or do. Though poems may look shorter than what you’re used to writing, they often take years to be what they really are. They change and evolve. The most important thing is to find a quiet place where you can be with yourself and really listen."

Is it time to get other people involved?

Want another pair of eyes on your poem during this process? You have options. You can swap pieces with a beta reader , workshop it with a critique group , or even engage a professional poetry editor like Lauren to refine your work — a strong option if you plan to submit it to a journal or turn it into the foundation for a chapbook .

Want a poetry expert to polish up your verse?

Professional poetry editors are on Reedsy. Sign up for free to meet them!

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

The working poet's checklist

If you decide to fly solo, here’s a checklist to work through as you revise:

✅ Hunt for clichés. Did you find yourself reaching for ready-made idioms at any point? Go back to the sentiment you were grappling with and try to capture it in stronger, more vivid terms.

✅ See if your poem begins where it should. Did you take a few lines of throat-clearing to get to the actual point? Try starting your poem further down.

✅ Make sure every line belongs. As you read each line, ask yourself: how does this contribute to the poem as a whole? Does it advance the theme, clarify the imagery, set or subvert the reader’s expectations? If you answer with something like, “It makes the poem sound nice,” consider cutting it.

Once you’ve worked your way through this checklist, feel free to brew yourself a cup of tea and sit quietly for a while, reflecting on your literary triumphs. 

Whether these poetry writing tips have awakened your inner Wordsworth, or sent you happily gamboling back to prose, we hope you enjoyed playing with poetry —  and that you learned something new about your approach to language.

And if you are looking to share your poetry with the world, the next post in this guide can show the ropes regarding how to publish your poems! 

Anna Clarke says:

29/03/2020 – 04:37

I entered a short story competition and though I did not medal, one of the judges told me that some of my prose is very poetic. The following year I entered a poetry competition and won a bronze medal. That was my first attempt at writing poetry. I am more aware of figurative language in writing prose now. I am learning to marry the two. I don't have any poems online.

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Learning | Poetry | 2023-05

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How to Write a Poem — A Step-by-Step Guide

In the complex world of human communication, poetry is one of the most impactful elements. It combines our ideas, feelings, and life experiences in a beautifully arranged sequence of words. It’s an art form that, when well-executed, can be a method for emotional release, a way for intellectual engagement, and a means to see life from different viewpoints.

Yet, the desire to write poetry often finds itself at odds with the daunting task of putting abstract feelings into concrete verse. This article will illuminate the path toward learning how to write a poem.

How to Write a Poem

First, let’s define poetry.

Now that we've established the importance and power of poetry, let's delve deeper into its core elements and understand what truly makes a poem by looking at the poetry definition.


What is poetry.

Poetry is a literary art form that uses rhythm, rhyme, meter, and figurative language to express human experiences with emotional depth and artistic elegance. 

Poems are crafted compositions of words, arranged to convey specific themes or emotions, often with a rhythmic pattern distinct from prose. They can vary in structure from tightly defined forms like sonnets to more flexible free verse, all aiming to evoke emotion and provoke thought. 

Using metaphors, similes, personification, and imagery, poetry communicates thoughts, feelings, and perspectives in a personal yet universal way, offering unique insights and challenging readers to see the world differently.

Characteristics of poetry:

  • Figurative Language

Learning How to Write a Poem

Elements of a poem.

Poetry is a craft that employs various elements to create a unique and captivating work of art. These elements interact with each other to convey the poet's message and evoke the desired emotional response from the reader. Let's delve into these elements one by one.

Understanding Verses and Stanzas

Verses and stanzas are the basic building blocks of a poem. A verse is a single line in a poem, while a stanza is a group of verses arranged together to form a distinct segment within the poem, much like a paragraph in prose. 

The arrangement of stanzas and verses can influence the flow and rhythm of the poem, as well as its visual presentation on the page.

Stanzas and Verses  •  Tips for Writing Poetry

The role of rhythm and rhyme.

Rhythm and rhyme are musical elements of poetry. Rhythm refers to the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line, which gives the poem its beat. 

Rhyme, on the other hand, is the repetition of similar sounds in words, usually at the end of lines. These elements add a melodic quality to the poem and can enhance its emotional impact.

Significance of Imagery and Metaphor

Imagery and metaphor are powerful tools for conveying meaning in poetry. Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things, providing deeper insight or highlighting certain qualities in a unique way.

What is a Metaphor  •   Subscribe on YouTube

Imagery involves the use of vivid and descriptive language to create mental pictures or sensations, enabling readers to experience the poem more fully. 

The Power of Alliteration, Assonance, and Consonance

Alliteration , assonance , and consonance are stylistic devices that contribute to the sound and rhythm of a poem. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds, assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, and consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds anywhere in the word. These devices can lend a lyrical quality to the poem and enhance its aesthetic appeal.

Importance of Tone and Mood

Tone and mood play a crucial role in shaping the reader's emotional response to a poem. Tone refers to the poet's attitude towards the subject, which can be discerned through their choice of words and stylistic devices. 

Mood, on the other hand, is the atmosphere or emotional setting created by the poem, which influences how the reader feels while reading. By carefully manipulating tone and mood, poets can guide their readers' emotional journey through the poem.

Related Posts

  • What is a Sonnet? →
  • What is Iambic Pentameter? →
  • Different Types of Poems and Poem Structures →

How to Start a Poem Based on Form

Types of poetry.

The beauty of poetry lies in its diversity. There are numerous types of poetry , each with its own unique structure, style, and thematic focus. Here are some of the most popular forms:

A sonnet is a 14-line poem that originated in Italy and was later popularized by Shakespeare. It traditionally explores themes of love and beauty and is known for its precise structure, which typically includes a specific rhyme scheme and meter. An iconic example of this is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. 

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

 So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Free verse poems do not conform to any specific rules regarding rhyme or meter, giving the poet full creative freedom. This form allows for greater flexibility and experimentation in terms of structure and content.

A limerick is a humorous five-line poem with a distinct rhythm and rhyme scheme (AABBA). The first, second, and fifth lines are longer, while the third and fourth lines are shorter.

Ballads are narrative poems that tell a story, often set to music. They are usually composed of four-line stanzas (quatrains) with a regular rhythm and rhyme scheme.

Originating in Japan, a haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count. Haikus often focus on nature and the changing seasons, capturing a single moment or observation in a concise and impactful way.

How To Write A Poem  •  Haiku (Step-By-Step Tutorial)

An elegy is a mournful or reflective poem typically written in response to the death of a person or an expression of sorrow over a personal loss. It often employs a formal tone and structure.

Each type of poetry offers a unique way to express thoughts, feelings, and stories, providing endless possibilities for creativity and exploration. Whether you're drawn to the brevity of the haiku or the storytelling potential of the ballad, there's a poetic form out there that will suit your personal style and voice.

How to Write a Poem Step by Step

Steps to writing a poem.

Writing a poem can be a deeply personal and rewarding process. Here are the key steps to guide you on your poetic journey:

1. Finding Inspiration: Drawing from Personal Experiences and Observations

Inspiration is the first spark that ignites the process of writing a poem. It can come from anywhere—personal experiences, observations, feelings, or even a single word or phrase that resonates with you. Keep an open mind and let the world around you inspire your creativity.

Ocean Vuong  •  Tips for Writing Poetry

2. choosing a theme or subject: what do you want to express.

Once you've found inspiration, it's time to decide what you want to express through your poem. This could be a specific emotion, a personal story, a philosophical idea, or a commentary on societal issues. Your theme or subject will guide the direction of your poem and provide a focus for your creative efforts.

3. Deciding on a Type: Which Form Suits Your Message?

Next, consider which type of poetry best suits your message. Are you telling a story? A ballad might be appropriate. Sharing a brief, poignant moment? Consider a haiku. Want to break free from traditional structures? Try writing in free verse. The form you choose can enhance your theme and make your poem more impactful.

4. Crafting the First Draft: Letting Your Creativity Flow

Now it's time to start writing. Don't worry about making your first draft perfect—just let your creativity flow. Write down whatever comes to mind, focusing on expressing your thoughts and feelings as authentically as possible.

5. Editing and Refining: Honing Your Poem to Perfection

After you've written your first draft, it's time to refine your poem. Look for ways to improve its rhythm, imagery, and language. Remove unnecessary words, experiment with different poetic devices, and ensure that every line contributes to the overall theme

6. Review and Revise: The Importance of Multiple Drafts

Don't be afraid to write multiple drafts of your poem. Each revision is an opportunity to improve your work and bring it closer to your vision. Be patient with yourself and take the time to craft your poem to perfection.

Sharing Your Work: Taking the Leap and Putting Your Work Out There

Finally, consider sharing your poem with others. This can be a scary step, but it's also incredibly rewarding. Whether you share your work with a trusted friend, submit it to a literary magazine, or post it on a poetry blog, putting your work out there is a brave act of self-expression and a crucial part of the poetic process.

Now that we've grasped the fundamental steps to crafting a poem, let's explore the different approaches to poetry that can shape your unique writing journey.

Understanding How to Write a Poem

Different approaches to writing poetry.

Learning how to write a poem takes an open mind to creative approach. Poetry, like any other form of art, does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. It's a personal journey that varies from poet to poet. Here are some ways you can approach your poetic endeavors:

The Observational Approach

Some poets find their muse in the world around them. Observing nature, people, or everyday situations can inspire profound thoughts and imagery. This approach encourages you to experience life with an open mind and heart, transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary poetry

The Stream-of-Consciousness Approach

For poets who thrive on spontaneity, the stream-of-consciousness approach is ideal. This technique involves writing thoughts as they come, without concern for structure. It's like a dialogue with your inner self, leading to unexpected connections and authentic poetry. It allows you to tap into your subconscious and reveal hidden ideas, offering new paths to creativity.

What is the Stream of Consciousness?  •  How to Start a Poem

The emotional approach.

Poetry often serves as an outlet for expressing emotions. Whether it's love, sorrow, joy, or anger, channeling your feelings into words can create powerful and relatable poems. This approach requires introspection and honesty with oneself.

The Philosophical Approach

If you're inclined towards pondering life's big questions, the philosophical approach might suit you. This style involves exploring concepts like existence, morality, or the human condition in your poetry. It challenges both the poet and the reader to think deeply and critically.

The Experimental Approach

For those who like to push boundaries and defy conventions, the experimental approach is ideal. This could involve playing with form, structure, or language to create unique and innovative poems. It's all about breaking rules and creating something truly original.

Remember, these are not rigid categories but flexible strategies that you can mix and match according to your preference. The beauty of poetry lies in its flexibility and the freedom it offers the poet. 

In conclusion, poetry writing is more than an art form; it's a journey of self-discovery and profound expression. The joy and fulfillment it offers are unique. If you're a budding poet, remember every masterpiece starts with a single word. Embrace the learning process and know that each word penned brings you closer to your poetic voice.

Types of Poems and Poem Structures 

As we mentioned above, one of the key steps to writing a poem is having a solid understanding of poem structure and form. To learn more about poem structure and types of poems check out our next article. 

Up Next: Types of Poems and Poem Structures →

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Writing Forward

36 Poetry Writing Tips

by Melissa Donovan | Aug 10, 2023 | Poetry Writing | 72 comments

poetry writing tips

Poetry writing tips.

Poetry is the most artistic and liberating form of creative writing. You can write in the abstract or the concrete. Images can be vague or subtle, brilliant or dull. Write in form, using patterns, or write freely, letting your conscience (or subconscious) be your guide.

You can do just about anything in a poem. That’s why poetry writing is so wild and free; there are no rules. Poets have complete liberty to build something out of nothing simply by stringing words together.

All of this makes poetry writing alluring to writers who are burning with creativity. A poet’s process is magical and mesmerizing. But all that freedom and creativity can be a little overwhelming. If you can travel in any direction, which way should you go? Where are the guideposts?

Today’s writing tips include various tools and techniques that a poet can use. But these tips aren’t just for poets. All writers benefit from dabbling in poetry. Read a little poetry, write a few poems, study some basic concepts in poetry, and your other writing (fiction, creative nonfiction, even blogging) will soar.

Below, you’ll find thirty-six writing tips that take you on a little journey through the craft of poetry writing. See which ones appeal to you, give them a whirl, and they will lead you on a fantastic adventure.

  • Read lots of poetry. In fact, read a lot of anything if you want to produce better writing.
  • Write poetry as often as you can.
  • Designate a special notebook (or space in your notebook) for poetry writing.
  • Try writing in form (sonnets, haiku, etc.).
  • Use imagery.
  • Embrace metaphors, but stay away from clichés.
  • Sign up for a poetry writing workshop.
  • Expand your vocabulary.
  • Read poems over and over (and aloud). Consider and analyze them.
  • Join a poetry forum or poetry writing group online.
  • Study musicality in writing (rhythm and meter).
  • Use poetry prompts when you’re stuck.
  • Be funny. Make a funny poem.
  • Notice what makes others’ poetry memorable. Capture it, mix it up, and make it your own.
  • Try poetry writing exercises when you’ve got writer’s block.
  • Study biographies of famous (or not-so-famous) poets.
  • Memorize a poem (or two, or three, or more).
  • Revise and rewrite your poems to make them stronger and more compelling.
  • Have fun with puns.
  • Don’t be afraid to write a bad poem. You can write a better one later.
  • Find unusual subject matter — a teapot, a shelf, a wall.
  • Use language that people can understand.
  • Meditate or listen to inspirational music before writing poetry to clear your mind and gain focus.
  • Keep a notebook with you at all times so you can write whenever (and wherever) inspiration strikes.
  • Submit your poetry to literary magazines and journals.
  • When you submit work, accept rejection and try again and again. You can do it and you will.
  • Get a website or blog and publish your own poetry.
  • Connect with other poets to share and discuss the craft that is poetry writing.
  • Attend a poetry reading or slam poetry event.
  • Subscribe to a poetry podcast and listen to poetry.
  • Support poets and poetry by buying books and magazines that feature poetry.
  • Write with honesty. Don’t back away from your thoughts or feelings. Express them!
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mix art and music with your poetry. Perform it and publish it.
  • Eliminate all unnecessary words, phrases, and lines. Make every word count.
  • Write a poem every single day.
  • Read a poem every single day.

Have You Written a Poem Lately?

I believe that poetry is the most exquisite form of writing. And anyone can write a poem if they want to. In today’s world of fast-moving images, poetry has lost much of its appeal to the masses. But there are those of us who thrive on language and who still appreciate a poem and its power to move us emotionally. It’s our job to keep great poetry writing alive. And it’s our job to keep writing poetry.

What are some of your favorite writing tips from today’s list? How can you apply poetry writing techniques to other forms of writing? Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment!



Interesting article! 🙂 Thank you for writing this, Melissa!

Melissa Donovan

Thank you for reading it, Maria!


I find this very helpful in my search to write poetry with some help. I am finding lots of things on the internet. This is my favorite so far.

Thanks for your kind words, Sandy. I’m glad you found this article helpful!

Connie Brzowski

Nice article~ I started writing poetry on a regular basis back in November. Gave myself permission to write really bad stuff without hitting the delete key 🙂

I’d like to see recommendations for poetry blogs ands sites if you don’t mind sharing.

Hi Connie. In my experience, creative freedom (permission to write bad stuff) is essential in poetry writing. Most of the poetry sites I visit are online literary magazines, but I actually get most of my poetry from books. There are some excellent podcasts too — IndieFeed: Performance Poetry and Poem of the Day come to mind as two favorites.


Poem: Our Promise Kiribaku

You promised You promised me the world You promised You promised me your last name You promised You promised me heaven You promised You promised me Money You promised me freedom But now I am shackled by the pain of our broken promise


I have not written a poem lately. I don’t know why, but I only feel compelled to write poetry when I’m overflowing with emotion of some kind. Anger, passion, remorse, grief, love … the things that are so hard to contain in prose and need the stretchier boundaries of poetry to give them the room they need. Otherwise, I’m a down-to-earth, prose girl, and since, as a rule, I’m pretty even-keeled as emotions go … I don’t do the poetry thing very often. I think about it, though. Does that count?

Do you read a lot of poetry? I too tend to get the urge to write poetry when I’m overflowing with emotion, so I know what you mean. And it’s easy to drift away from poetry writing, especially when you’re blogging and writing copy! I don’t know if thinking about it counts, but I guess if your thoughts eventually lead to a poem, then it does count! Ha!

I really don’t read that much poetry, I like to think of myself as a creative person, but I’m still a prose girl at heart. Also, I have an aversion to things that rhyme (other than song lyrics) because sappy Hallmark cards pretty much ruined that for me when I was in my teens (grin).

Hallmark hasn’t exactly been a positive PR machine for poetry in general, has it? But what about Dr. Seuss-ish rhymes? Nursery rhymes? Rhymes in song lyrics? Can you tell I love rhyming? I know what you mean about sappy rhymes and greeting-card poems. When I’m writing (or reading) I always look for clever and unexpected rhymes. That sort of levels out the cheesiness factor.


Hi Melissa,

Thanks for posting this list!

My illustrious poetry career was cut short around the age of 13, when I became more obsessed with journaling about boys than writing witty epic poems commemorating family members’ birthdays.

I’ve decided that this will be the year that I finally open up to poetry again! I’ll probably start up with writing in my signature “grade 6” style of poetry which is likely to include rhymes like “bee” and “pee” and classic highbrow toilet humour. Hopefully I can grow from there. I’m currently trawling through your previous posts and comments for poetry tips, terms and reading suggestions – the one on meter and musicality looks especially good.

You asked for topic requests in a previous post, so here are a few post suggestions that I’d be interested in reading about:

1. A list of your favourite poets or pieces? (I’m currently asking all my friends for suggested readings as a starting point!) 2. More poetic devices or techniques that you may know about?

Hi zz. I’ll have to think about compiling a list of my favorite poems and poets. Some of my favorites are ee cummings, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Emily Dickinson, and so many more…

Like you, I started writing poetry when I was 13 years old. Since then, I’ve been in and out of poetry writing over the years. It’s comforting to know that I can always return to it. Good luck this year with your poetry!


All the tips are most useful for anyone who wants to become a poet. But it is not easy to follow each and every step. Concentration and hard work is essential to reach the goal.

True, although it depends on the goal. I’ve known a lot of writers who write poetry solely for personal expression. Their poems are private, much like a journal. You’re right in that it’s not easy to follow every step, and becoming a (published) poet takes concentration and hard work.

J.D. Meier

I think I never write poems because I don’t know when a poem is a poem and when it’s not. I never figured out any simple criteria for something to be a poem.

Do you ever read poetry? I think that learning through example is the best way to figure out what is a poem, although I have come across a few poems that I would consider prose or fiction — these are often referred to as “prose poems.” If you wanted to try your hand at poetry writing, you could always go the traditional route and compose sonnets or haiku. Those are definitely poems.


Thanks for sharing your insights on poetry.It is a nice article.Surely to improve poetry,one has to keep writing and editing.

That’s true. Improvement comes from practice, so keep on writing.


I made a New Year’s resolution to write a poem a day…so far I have strayed from my resolution hehe…nice post

Aw, but you still shouldn’t give up. You can also double up to catch up. Good luck!

Thank you Melissa, I will catch up by doubling up. The hardest thing to do is to employ various poetical techniques in a hip-hop form and present them to an audience that may be too dense to grab or understand dedication to the craft. I have learned that there is a market for everything though.

Don’t underestimate your audience! One of the reasons I fell in love with hip hop was because of its poetry (Jay-Z in particular). Of course, then there was the dance element!


Hi Melissa! Thanks for this site.It feels nice being with people who loves to write and your tips are really very useful. I am a lover of poems and I have tried writing poems myself. I’ve tried to write poems everyday as suggested and I realized that it is good practice…although most of them are not really even worth sharing, but it gives me time to critic my own work and at the same time improve on them. Oftentimes I dream that someday my poems will entertain others the way some poems entertain me, but many I find my poems very shallow. And much as I would like to say that poetry is just a way of expressing myself and sometimes venting myself of some negative feelings so I have to keep them to myself, most of the time, I have the urge to share it to somebody. Sometimes, the beauty of the poem for me is when you are able to share what it is you want to express and somebody else understands it the way you wanted it to be understood. It may be vain, but I think it is also a great feeling when someone says he/she liked my poem. Is it normal for a writer?

Hi Mary. Yes, I think what you’re experiencing is completely normal for a writer. Often, what seems obvious or ordinary to you is fascinating to someone else. If we, as writers, write what we know, then it’s not necessarily new or exciting, but for someone who hasn’t walked in our shoes or lived inside our heads, our words are fresh and compelling.

Of course it’s a wonderful feeling when someone likes your poem! The trick is to also experience a wonderful feeling when someone likes it enough to offer suggestions for improvements: “I like this poem a lot, but it would be even better if…” That’s a sign that someone believes in your work enough to want to help you grow.

My suggestion is to read tons and tons of poetry. There is plenty of great work online, but be sure to explore the classics and literary journals too. Good luck to you!


i have written a lot of poems. where can one send these for publishing….

Hi Charlan. Your question is really beyond the scope of what I can answer in a blog comment. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of publications that accept submissions. But before you submit to any of them, you should read them. I recommend searching for literary magazines, poetry magazines, literary journals, and poetry journals. That should be a good start.

Rose Mattax

.35 read a poem every day.

Well, there are lots of great tips here, but I thought I’d share a source of poetry that allows me to read a sacred poem everyday. It’s great–stuff all the way from Rumi to Levertov. And it draws on all spiritual traditions. Here’s the link!

Thanks for sharing that link, Rose. I’ll have to check it out. Great poetry is a bit hard to find online, so I appreciate your suggestion.

Lauren @ Pure Text

I love poetry. I recently got the word tattooed on my right arm. 🙂 Now that I’ve read this, I’m inspired to write a sonnet! Thank you!

Thank you, Lauren. Good luck with your sonnet.

Alex Marestaing

Though I write youth fiction now, I can’t get away from poetry and end up scribbling poetic lines down in my journal every now and then. I guess that stems from my teen music writing days, where I had notebooks full of songs, poetry, whatever. Poetry is such a free form of writing, kind of like dancing 🙂

I couldn’t agree more, Alex. My focus these days is more on fiction and creative nonfiction, but the poems still show up at will. When they do, I write them in my journal. It’s definitely like dancing (a magical kind of dancing).


Melissa Donovan, I could disagree with everything you said, but that would make me a fool. And I am no fool no sir re, although I act a bit like one from time to time. Yes Notebooks galore are stored in my little pad.

I don’t read a lot as I am creating a lot and posting and maintaining my Blogs and websites along with all their supporting Bookmakers and Indexers. Forums are great and workshops are better. But the thing I find most supportive is pretending to be your own Publisher your own Boss.

This is what I am doing day in and day out or whenever the spirits move me. I talk about mostly creating as I am not educated enough in the forms of other poetry just free verse and prose. I guess I should try others forms and I may at a latter date.

But right not I am trying to make my poetry work for me, as I am Home bound and disabled to a great extent. Well I enjoyed this write it states much truth for Poets and Poetesses a like, God Bless and may you Keep on Keeping On!

Donnie/ Sinbad the Sailor Man

I believe that reading is essential to good writing. Many writers have reasons for not reading, but I think the reasons to read are far more convincing. In fact, I think spending an hour a day reading and twenty minutes writing will improve your writing faster and more thoroughly than spending an hour and twenty minutes a day writing. Keep at it, Donnie.


hi melissa, i am 14 and i wrote my firt poem a month ago. since then my school had registered my name for a competition. i am not really experienced and i am worried since i have to write a poem on a topic given by thejudges, in an hour. any tips?

My first tip would be this: don’t take the competition too seriously. It’s an honor that you were selected. Most poets aren’t constrained by a one-hour time limit, but this is definitely an opportunity to have a little fun with your creativity and challenge yourself. I say, just go with it. If you can, give yourself about ten minutes to jot down words and images once you’ve been given your subject. Then spend about thirty minutes working that material into a poem. Use the remaining twenty minutes to edit and revise. Good luck to you, Ash!


These are really good advise. I love point 23 especially, to meditate before penning down. I’ve always find poetry writing a way to connect with my own spirituality. I have always been smitten by poems of others with their powerful rhyming and rhythm, which I always have difficulty pulling it off. It always seem to me that they have not one word wasted. What would you suggest to make an improvement on ths aspect?

The best suggestion I can offer you is to edit your poems slowly and thoughtfully. Poems can happen very quickly and many beginning poets are inclined to go over the poem once or twice, sweeping it rather than giving it a deep cleaning. Spend time with the poem. Look for alternative words in a thesaurus. If you’re having trouble with rhyme, use a rhyming dictionary. If the rhythm is off, use a metronome or play music (without lyrics) while you write, or study music on the side to get a sense of rhythm and meter.


Wow!!!! Found it just awesome.. Yeah I have written some poems, but haven’t published anywhere, so, how can I do it to publish on this site.. This made me, to devote myself more and more for my dream Thaanxx for the article

Hi Nibedit. This is not a publishing platform for poetry, but you can do a search for “poetry journals” and “literary magazines” to find a host of sites that accept work for publication. I wish you the best of luck with your writing!


Well-written tips Melissa! Reading a lot definitely helps you to produce better poetry. I always have a small book in my bag, so that I could write whenever I feel to 🙂

Thanks, Summer! I carry a tiny notebook too, plus my phone, which I can use if I’ve forgotten my notebook for some reason.


Hey, Melissa! I’ve read through your article, but I’m still stuck on how I’m supposed to write a poem with deeper meaning. It seems like every other poem I’ve ever written have the same words on it and I’m running out of ideas of how to start. I would’ve considered myself to be fairly good as a learning poet but now i think I’m doubting myself because i used to know more vocabularies and now i can’t seem to think of any witty writings. I would appreciate any suggestions you may offer.

My best suggestion is to read some poetry and read some books on the craft of poetry. I always found those to the best ways to break through a plateau. You can check my Writing Resources page, where I have listed some of my favorite poetry resources.


I’m 13 and I’m trying to put together a poetry book. It’s about being gay and losing friends because of it, people not liking me back, etc. So far the poems I have written are very good (in my opinion), although depressing. I sent one in to a literary agent asking if it was professional material and he said he would gladly help me publish it.

So, what I wanted to say is that I barely ever read poetry and I can still write well. My ideas, rhythm patterns, rhyme schemes, etc. are original, and I like that about them. I’m not going for perfect or a masterpiece. I just want to get my messages and emotions across, so I don’t read the poetry of others. I can see why other poets would, but I just don’t. I just let myself write, and then I edit and revise whatever I come up with. Just stop when it sounds good.

Also, I want to add that you shouldn’t be afraid to write dark or depressing poetry. Just write with the emotions that you feel inside. Almost all of my poems are depressing, but it doesn’t mean that I cut myself or anything. So don’t be afraid to do that. (Writing depressing poetry, not cutting yourself. Lol)

Good luck to all of you aspiring poets out there!

Thanks, Thomas

Thomas, I think it’s wonderful that you’re writing poetry at age thirteen (coincidentally, that’s the age I started writing it, too) and that you’re using poetry to express yourself and address important social issues. I applaud you!

However, I cannot get on board with the notion that one can write great poetry without reading it. You say you write good poems, but how could you possibly know whether your poems are good if you don’t read any other poetry? What, exactly, are you comparing your poems to? You may very well be a born talent, but I can assure you that if you study your craft, your poems will be a thousand times better.

You say “I just want to get my messages and emotions across, so I don’t read the poetry of others.” It sounds to me like you want the world to listen to you but you don’t want to listen to anyone else, which is too bad. I hope that in time, you’ll change your mind and decide to embrace poetry in full, which means reading it as well as writing it.

Teresa Albert

I do enjoy reading a poem everyday. I subscribed to Academy of American Poets Poem A Day. That way I’m sure to read a different poem each day delivered to my email. The last time I wrote a poem was a week ago. I need to get back into a better routine with writing poetry. I enjoy it very much and I do try to find different journals and contests to submit my poetry to at least a few times a year. Thanks for the motivation with this article.

I’ve always viewed poetry as the most artistic (and sometimes magical!) form of writing. I just wish more people would embrace it.

Tristan Paul

hi. i’ve been so empty lately. the thought of making poems is that it interests me, at my good times and bad times. i dont know if it is talent or something. they dont even know, my friends and my family. im a little shy and ashame about it. they would say poetry sucks, its not for you, they would never understand the feeling. this is what i really love to do . i want to play with words. they found me. help me understand it. thanks.bye

If you want to make poems, then make poems. Other people don’t get to decide how you spend your free time. Why on earth would you be ashamed about wanting to write poetry? There are always people who want to shame and bully people because they are different. Don’t let them control you. Can you imagine shaming someone because they like soccer or knitting?

Don As Tauno

Ms Melissa, Also “steal” techniques and then perfect them to your purpose.

Gayle De souza

Thank you so much for this article Melissa! I wanted to write a book on my life for so many years but decided it would hurt too many people, even though they never thought about their actions. I woke up one morning and wrote poems(literally) based on the way i felt which I felt was less hurtful but more direct and expressive! My poems are free form and I’ve been reading up on writing good poetry. Although I find it difficult to fit to the guidelines. This article really helps! Cheers!

Hi Gayle! I’m so glad you liked this article. I once had an idea for a book based on real life, but like you, it wasn’t worth it to risk upsetting people, and I had plenty of other things that I wanted to write. Actually, it was a good way to eliminate an idea at a time when I had too many of them! And I agree that poetry is the most expressive and cathartic form of writing. Thank you for your comment.

David Irvine

Thank you so much for this fantastic article Melissa. I have just published my first book and working on my next one. I’m always on the outlook for crafted information to help me as a writer. I have developed my own style when writing poetry but it’s always nice to dapple using different ideas and constraints. Thanks…

You’re welcome, David. Congratulations on finishing your first book. May there be many more to follow!

Grace A

This is encouraging. I’ve written a couple of poems but didn’t think they were good enough. Now I know there are really no limits. Thanks!

I’m glad you found this encouraging, Grace. As long as you stick with it, there are no limits. Keep writing.

Jeffery Williams

Thanks beloved friend & Poetess I appreciate all your tips Everyone is On point, Phenomenal brilliant Food for a, poetry writer & speaker To use.

Lovely! Thanks, Jeffrey.

D. J. Irvine

I’ve been writing poetry for years and have a collection of books on Amazon. When it comes to critique from your audience, it may surprise you! You might find teachers, other poets, writers and artists love your work. However, you will get feedback from people who hate your words. They will be harsh and leave you with a terrible review. This doesn’t mean you should stop and feel terrible, it just means you didn’t resonate with that person. Every type of creative work is open to good and bad feedback. It’s all part of the process. Just keep doing what you love.

This is so true. All art is subjective. I’ve had some interesting debates with people who don’t care for the poetry of ee cummings. Personally, I love his work. Unfortunately, reviewers often lack objectivity. For example, a trained and experienced reviewer can probably acknowledge the merit of a work while expressing their dislike (“it’s good work but not to my taste”). Some say you haven’t really “made it” until you get your first negative review. Writers can use feedback to grow and improve, but we should not let negative reviews impede our progress or determination. Thanks for your comment!


I lost my muse trying to find it again. So I wrote this

consciously asleep

Yellow is the sun Blue is the sky Hot is the desert Blank is the heart

Filled is the store Hungry do we wake

Many are they None is there

Alive we are Dead are we walking

Happy is the face Sad is the heart

Many are friends Lonely is he

Beauty is the body Ugly is the being

Island do we dwell Thirst are we

Kings are we born Shackles around neck

Love do they preach Hate do we see

Blessed are we born Cursed are we

Perfect is the earth made Chaos do we see

Mercy sowth the creator Vengeance ignited the creation

Noises do we hear Yet deaf are we.

Thank you for sharing your poem with us. Lovely.


This list is awesome. The one item on the list that renosontes with me would be supporting your favorite poets, your local poets, and read their marietial. I recently had a poem accepted by Spillwords called “Running with Scissors.” I’d like to attend a poetry slam in the future.

Thanks, Donetta! I too would love to attend a poetry slam. They look so fun!

Kymber Hawke

You have some wonderful tips here. 🤍🌺 I’ve learned so much!

Thanks, Kymber! I love how you use the Sims to illustrate your stories! That’s awesome.

V.M. Sang

Thanks for this wonderful post. In December last year I committed myself to write one poem a day for a year. So far, I’m on track, but am running out of inspiration. Some of my poems are traditional rhyming poetry, one or two are free verse. I’ve written some Haiku, a few limericks, one or two narrative poems and some on things I feel deeply about, like what we are doing to our lovely planet. I hope to publish in two volumes–January to June and July to December. People will then be able to read one poem each day for a year.

What a fun challenge. I always mean to write a poem a day in April for National Poetry Month, but I keep forgetting! That seems to be a busy time of year for me.


I write a lot of poetry and have published a couple of collections. But with no rules, I wonder if there are more things I should know. I do/have done most of your list, but there are some good additions here. Thanks

You’re welcome!

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How to Write a Poem

Last Updated: September 15, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 7,019,721 times.

Writing a poem is about observing the world within or around you. A poem can be about anything, from love to loss to the rusty gate at the old farm. Writing poetry can seem daunting, especially if you do not feel you are naturally or bursting with poetic ideas. With the right inspiration and approach, you can write a poem that you can be proud to share with others in the class or with your friends.

Sample Poems

poetry writing help

Starting the Poem

Step 1 Do writing exercises.

Brainstorming for Ideas Try a free write. Grab a notebook or your computer and just start writing—about your day, your feelings, or how you don’t know what to write about. Let your mind wander for 5-10 minutes and see what you can come up with. Write to a prompt. Look up poem prompts online or come up with your own, like “what water feels like” or “how it feels to get bad news.” Write down whatever comes to mind and see where it takes you. Make a list or mind map of images. Think about a situation that’s full of emotion for you and write down a list of images or ideas that you associate with it. You could also write about something you see right in front of you, or take a walk and note down things you see.

Step 2 Get inspired by your environment and those close to you.

Finding a Topic Go for a walk. Head to your favorite park or spot in the city, or just take a walk through your neighborhood. Use the people you see and nature and buildings you pass as inspiration for a poem. Write about someone you care about. Think about someone who’s really important to you, like a parent or your best friend. Recall a special moment you shared with them and use it to form a poem that shows that you care about them. Pick a memory you have strong feelings about. Close your eyes, clear your head, and see what memories come to the forefront of your mind. Pay attention to what emotions they bring up for you—positive or negative—and probe into those. Strong emotional moments make for beautiful, interesting poems.

Step 3 Pick a specific theme or idea.

  • For example, you may decide to write a poem around the theme of “love and friendship.” You may then think about specific moments in your life where you experienced love and friendship as well as how you would characterize love and friendship based on your relationships with others.
  • Try to be specific when you choose a theme or idea, as this can help your poem feel less vague or unclear. For example, rather than choosing the general theme of “loss,” you may choose the more specific theme, such as “loss of a child” or “loss of a best friend.”

Step 4 Choose a poetic form.

  • You may decide to try a poetic form that is short, such as the haiku , the cinquain , or the shape poem. You could then play around with the poetic form and have fun with the challenges of a particular form. Try rearranging words to make your poem sound interesting.
  • You may opt for a form that is more funny and playful, such as the limerick form, if you are trying to write a funny poem. Or you may go for a more lyrical form like the sonnet , the ballad , or the rhyming couplet for a poem that is more dramatic and romantic.

Step 5 Read examples of poetry.

  • “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge [4] X Research source
  • “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman [5] X Research source
  • “I measure every Grief I meet” by Emily Dickinson [6] X Research source
  • “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare [7] X Research source
  • “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop [8] X Research source
  • “Night Funeral in Harlem” by Langston Hughes [9] X Research source
  • “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams [10] X Research source

Writing the Poem

Step 1 Use concrete imagery.

  • For example, rather than try to describe a feeling or image with abstract words, use concrete words instead. Rather than write, “I felt happy,” you may use concrete words to create a concrete image, such as, “My smile lit up the room like wildfire.”

Step 2 Include literary devices.

Try a New Literary Device Metaphor: This device compares one thing to another in a surprising way. A metaphor is a great way to add unique imagery and create an interesting tone. Example: “I was a bird on a wire, trying not to look down.” Simile: Similes compare two things using “like” or “as.” They might seem interchangeable with metaphors, but both create a different flow and rhythm you can play with. Example: “She was as alone as a crow in a field,” or “My heart is like an empty stage.” Personification: If you personify an object or idea, you’re describing it by using human qualities or attributes. This can clear up abstract ideas or images that are hard to visualize. Example: “The wind breathed in the night.” Alliteration: Alliteration occurs when you use words in quick succession that begin with the same letter. This is a great tool if you want to play with the way your poem sounds. Example: “Lucy let her luck linger.”

Step 3 Write for the ear.

  • For example, you may notice how the word “glow” sounds compared to the word “glitter.” “Glow” has an “ow” sound, which conjures an image of warmth and softness to the listener. The word “glitter” is two syllables and has a more pronounced “tt” sound. This word creates a sharper, more rhythmic sound for the listener.

Step 4 Avoid cliche.

  • For example, you may notice you have used the cliche, “she was as busy as a bee” to describe a person in your poem. You may replace this cliche with a more unique phrase, such as “her hands were always occupied” or “she moved through the kitchen at a frantic pace.”

Polishing the Poem

Step 1 Read the poem out loud.

  • You may also read the poem out loud to others, such as friends, family, or a partner. Have them respond to the poem on the initial listen and notice if they seem confused or unclear about certain phrases or lines.

Step 2 Get feedback from others.

  • You may go over the poem with a fine-tooth comb and remove any cliches or familiar phrases. You should also make sure spelling and grammar in the poem are correct.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Brainstorm big things in your life and how they have impacted you. For example, if you write about how someone you know died, the tone of the poem could be the great sadness and loss you feel deep down and how it feels like a piece of you is missing. Thanks Helpful 14 Not Helpful 1
  • Think about what really matters in your life. It can give you ideas when you think about the people and places you love. You can write a poem in the form of the struggles in your life or the dangers you have had to face. You can also write a poem about happiness someone or something has brought to your life. Remember, what you write about should set the mood of your poem. Thanks Helpful 16 Not Helpful 4

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About This Article

Alicia Cook

Writing a poem can seem intimidating at first, but with a little patience and inspiration, you can produce a beautiful work of written art. If you’re not sure what to write about, spend a few minutes jotting down whatever thoughts come into your head. Think about your feelings, your experiences and memories, people in your life, or things that you sense in your environment and see if any of those things inspire you. You can also try working from writing prompts. Once you’ve done some free writing, look for themes and ideas in what you’ve written, and choose one that feels inspiring to you. Common themes include things like love, loss, family, or nature. After you choose a theme, think about how you’d like to structure the poem. For example, you might stick to a traditional format, such as a limerick, haiku, or quatrain. If you’d rather not feel constrained by rhymes or meter, consider writing a free verse poem and simply let the words flow in whatever way feels right. You can also read poems by other authors to get ideas and inspiration. When you’re writing the poem, look for ways to express your thoughts using powerful, sensory language. For example, instead of saying something like “I felt happy,” try using a colorful simile, like “My heart soared like a bird set free.” As you’re writing, also think about how the poem will sound when read out loud. Try reading it to yourself or a friend to see if it’s pleasing to the ear. If a word or phrase doesn’t flow the way you like, replace it with something else that has a similar meaning. You might not be satisfied with the first draft of your poem, and that’s totally okay. Read it to yourself, get feedback from friends, teachers, or other people you trust, and keep revising until you feel like you’ve created a poem that really captures the feelings you’re trying to convey. For help choosing a structure for your poem, like a haiku, limerick, or sonnet, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Poetry Writing

Tips for improving your poetry writing skills.

The section “Poetry Writing Skills” in our guide provides tips and techniques for improving your poetry writing skills. It covers a variety of ways to improve your poetry writing including:

Reading widely: Reading poetry written by other poets can help to expose you to different styles, forms, and techniques, and can inspire you to develop your own unique voice and style.

Experimenting with different forms and structures: Poets can try their hand at different forms of poetry, such as sonnets, haikus, and free verse, and explore different structures and techniques to find the one that works best for them.

Using descriptive language and imagery: Using descriptive language and imagery can help to bring your poetry to life and create a more vivid and engaging experience for your readers.

Paying attention to rhythm and sound: Paying attention to the rhythm and sound of your poetry can help to create a more musical and engaging experience for your readers.

Revising and editing your work: Revising and editing your work can help to improve its structure, imagery, and overall impact on readers.

Overall, the section “Poetry Writing Skills” provides tips and techniques for poets to improve their poetry writing skills. It covers the different ways to improve their skills by reading widely, experimenting with different forms, using descriptive language and imagery, paying attention to rhythm and sound, and revising and editing their work. It is designed to help poets to become more confident and proficient in their writing and to develop their own unique voice and style.

poetry writing skills

Ideas For Poems: Finding Inspiration

Our section on “Ideas for Poems” is designed to help poets find inspiration for their work and develop their own unique voice and style. It covers different ways to get inspired, from observing the world around to exploring different themes, structures, and techniques. It provides prompts, ideas and tips to help poets to generate new and exciting ideas for their poems.

Why Write Poetry?

Fostering a deeper appreciation for literature and the written word.

Encouraging critical thinking and reflection.

Enhancing creativity and imagination.

Improving language skills and vocabulary.

Poetry writing can be a highly beneficial and rewarding activity for many people. It is a powerful way to express emotions, thoughts, and ideas, and can help to improve writing skills, creativity, and self-expression. Some of the key benefits of poetry writing include:

Emotional catharsis: Poetry allows individuals to explore their emotions and feelings in a safe and creative way, helping to release pent-up emotions and reduce stress and anxiety.

Improved writing skills: Poetry often requires a high level of focus on language, structure, and imagery, which can help to improve writing skills, vocabulary, grammar and learning poetic elements.

Increased creativity: Poetry provides a unique form of creative expression, where individuals can experiment with different styles, forms, and techniques, and push their own creative boundaries.

Self-expression: Poetry can be a powerful tool for self-expression, allowing individuals to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and to communicate them to others.

Empathy and understanding: Poetry can be a powerful way to connect with others, by providing a window into the emotions and experiences of others.

Self-discovery: Writing poetry can help people to better understand themselves, their emotions and experiences, and can help them to uncover new insights and perspectives.

Overall, poetry writing can be a valuable and fulfilling activity that can help to improve emotional well-being, writing skills, and creativity, while also providing a powerful means of self-expression and connection with others.

Poetry Writing Exercises & Prompts

Our guide to “Poetry Writing Exercises & Writing Prompts” provides a variety of exercises and prompts to help poets generate new creative writing ideas and improve their poetry writing skills. It covers different exercises such as free-writing, theme-based, form-based, imagery-based and rhythm-based, to help poets to find new inspiration, explore different emotions and perspectives, experiment with different forms and structures, and to create more vivid and engaging poetry.

Poetry Writing Exercises

An Overview of Our Guide to Poetry Writing

Our guide to poetry writing is divided into three main sub-topics to help aspiring poets develop their skills and find inspiration for their work. There are other options to help with writing poems such as literary devices. While they are useful, we have many other choices available also.

Poetry Writing Skills: This section of the guide covers the basic skills needed to write poetry in a poetic form, including understanding poetic forms and devices, learning to use imagery and metaphor effectively, and developing a strong sense of voice and style. It also covers tips for editing and revising poems, as well as advice for getting published.

Ideas for Poems: This section of the guide provides inspiration and prompts for generating ideas for poems, including tips for observing and writing about the world around you, using personal experiences and emotions as inspiration, and exploring different themes and subjects. Additionally, it covers how to use real-life experiences to inspire poetry, encouraging readers to draw on their own emotions and observations to create powerful and relatable work.

Poetry Writing Exercises and Prompts: This section of the guide includes a variety of exercises and writing prompts to help poets practice their craft and develop their skills, such as writing in different forms, experimenting with different structures and techniques, and using specific words, phrases, or images as inspiration. The prompts will help to push the poets creative boundaries and to explore new ways of writing different kinds of poetry such as free verse poetry.  The guide covers the various forms of poetry, from traditional sonnets to modern free verse, and provides examples and exercises to help poets experiment with different forms and find the one that suits them best.

Overall, our guide to the poetry writing process is designed to help poets of all levels improve their skills, find inspiration, and develop their own unique voice and style. It includes a section on how to get published, providing advice on how to submit poetry to literary journals and magazines, as well as tips for building a strong online presence and networking with other poets. Additionally, it covers how to write poetry that is accessible to the readers and how to make it relatable, with practical advice on how to convey complex ideas and emotions in a clear and concise way.

Our guide to writing poems in an excitingly wonderful way mixes well with Grammarly’s post about How to Write a Poem . It is a great guide if you’re ready to begin your own poem writing adventure. We have explored with concrete words and brought to the surface great ideas for anyone to get started writing epic poetry.

Remember to use figurative language, a rhyme scheme and some helpful ideas to get your creative juices flowing! Great poetry always begins with an idea.

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Poetry writing tips: 10 helpful hacks for how to write a poem.

Jerz > Writing > General Creative Writing Tips [  Poetry  | Fiction  ]

If you are writing a poem because you want to capture a feeling that you experienced , then you don’t need these tips. Just write whatever feels right. Only you experienced the feeling that you want to express, so only you will know whether your poem succeeds.

If, however, your goal is to communicate with a reader — drawing on the established conventions of a literary genre (conventions that will be familiar to the experienced reader) to generate an emotional response in your reader — then simply writing what feels right to you won’t be enough.  (See also “ Poetry is for the Ear ” and “ When Backwards Newbie Poets Write .”)

These tips will help you make an important transition:

  • away from writing poetry to celebrate, commemorate, or capture your own feelings (in which case you, the poet, are the center of the poem’s universe)
  • towards writing poetry in order to generate feelings in your reader (in which case the poem exists entirely to serve the reader).

Poetry: 10 Tips for Writing Poems

  • Avoid Clichés
  • Avoid Sentimentality
  • Use Metaphor and Simile
  • Use Concrete Words Instead of Abstract Words
  • Communicate Theme
  • Subvert the Ordinary
  • Rhyme with Extreme Caution
  • Revise, Revise, Revise

Tip #1 Know Your Goal.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there?

You need to know what you are trying to accomplish before you begin any project. Writing a poem is no exception.

Before you begin, ask yourself what you want your poem to “do.” Do you want your poem to explore a personal experience, protest a social injustice, describe the beauty of nature, or play with language in a certain way? Once your know the goal of your poem, you can conform your writing to that goal. Take each main element in your poem and make it serve the main purpose of the poem.

Tip #2 Avoid Clichés

Stephen Minot defines a  cliché as: “A metaphor or simile that has become so familiar from overuse that the vehicle … no longer contributes any meaning whatever to the tenor. It provides neither the vividness of a fresh metaphor nor the strength of a single unmodified word….The word is also used to describe overused but nonmetaphorical expressions such as ‘tried and true’ and ‘each and every'” ( Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction and Drama , 405).

Cliché also describes other overused literary elements. “Familiar plot patterns and stock characters are clichés on a big scale” (Minot 148). Clichés can be overused themes, character types, or plots. For example, the “Lone Ranger” cowboy is a cliché because it has been used so many times that people no longer find it original.

A work full of clichés is like a plate of old food: unappetizing.

Creative Writing Tips

More creative writing tips.

Clichés work against original communication. People value creative talent. They want to see work that rises above the norm. When they see a work without clichés, they know the writer has worked his or her tail off, doing whatever it takes to be original. When they see a work full to the brim with clichés, they feel that the writer is not showing them anything above the ordinary. (In case you hadn’t noticed, this paragraph is chock full of clichés… I’ll bet you were bored to tears.)

Clichés dull meaning. Because clichéd writing sounds so familiar, people can finish whole lines without even reading them. If they don’t bother to read your poem, they certainly won’t stop to think about it. If they do not stop to think about your poem, they will never encounter the deeper meanings that mark the work of an accomplished poet.

Examples of Clichés:

How to improve a cliché.

I will take the cliché “as busy as a bee” and show how you can express the same idea without cliché.

  • Determine what the clichéd phrase is trying to say. In this case, I can see that “busy as a bee” is a way to describe the state of being busy.
  • Think of an original way to describe what the cliché is trying to describe. For this cliché, I started by thinking about busyness. I asked myself the question, “What things are associated with being busy?” I came up with: college, my friend Jessica, corporation bosses, old ladies making quilts and canning goods, and a computer, fiddlers fiddling. From this list, I selected a thing that is not as often used in association with busyness: violins.
  • Create a phrase using the non-clichéd way of description. I took my object associated with busyness and turned it into a phrase: “I feel like a bow fiddling an Irish reel.” This phrase communicates the idea of “busyness” much better than the worn-out, familiar cliché. The reader’s mind can picture the insane fury of the bow on the violin, and know that the poet is talking about a very frenzied sort of busyness. In fact, those readers who know what an Irish reel sounds like may even get a laugh out of this fresh way to describe “busyness.”

Try it! Take a cliché and use these steps to improve it. You may even end up with a line you feel is good enough to put in a poem!

Tip #3 Avoid Sentimentality.

Sentimentality is “dominated by a blunt appeal to the emotions of pity and love …. Popular subjects are puppies, grandparents, and young lovers” (Minot 416). “When readers have the feeling that emotions like rage or indignation have been pushed artificially for their own sake, they will not take the poem seriously” (132).

Minot says that the problem with sentimentality is that it detracts from the literary quality of your work (416). If your poetry is mushy or teary-eyed, your readers may openly rebel against your effort to invoke emotional response in them. If that happens, they will stop thinking about the issues you want to raise, and will instead spend their energy trying to control their own gag reflex.

Tip #4 Use Images.

“BE A PAINTER IN WORDS,” says UWEC English professor emerita, poet, and songwriter Peg Lauber. She says poetry should stimulate six senses:

  • kinesiology (motion)
  • “Sunlight varnishes magnolia branches crimson” (sight)
  • “Vacuum cleaner’s whir and hum startles my ferret” (hearing)
  • “Penguins lumber to their nests” (kinesiology)

Lauber advises her students to produce fresh, striking images (“imaginative”). Be a camera.  Make the reader  be there with the poet/speaker/narrator. (See also: “ Show, Don’t (Just) Tell “)

Tip #5 Use Metaphor and Simile.

Use metaphor and simile to bring imagery and concrete words into your writing.

A metaphor is a statement that pretends one thing is really something else: Example: “The lead singer is an elusive salamander.” This phrase does not mean that the lead singer is literally a salamander. Rather, it takes an abstract characteristic of a salamander (elusiveness) and projects it onto the person. By using metaphor to describe the lead singer, the poet creates a much more vivid picture of him/her than if the poet had simply said “The lead singer’s voice is hard to pick out.”
A simile is a statement where you say one object is similar to another object. Similes use the words “like” or “as.” Example: “He was curious as a caterpillar” or “He was curious, like a caterpillar” This phrase takes one quality of a caterpillar and projects it onto a person. It is an easy way to attach concrete images to feelings and character traits that might usually be described with abstract words.

Note: A simile is not automatically any more or less “poetic” than a metaphor. You don’t suddenly produce better poems if you replace all your similes with metaphors, or vice versa. The point to remember is that comparison, inference, and suggestion are all important tools of poetry; similes and metaphors are tools that will help in those areas.

Tip #6 Use Concrete Words Instead of Abstract Words.

Concrete words describe things that people experience with their senses.

A person can see orange, feel warm, or hear a cat.

A poet’s concrete words help the reader get a “picture” of what the poem is talking about. When the reader has a “picture” of what the poem is talking about, he/she can better understand what the poet is talking about.

Abstract words refer to concepts or feelings.

“Liberty” is a concept, “happy” is a feeling, and no one can agree on whether “love” is a feeling, a concept or an action.

A person can’t see, touch, or taste any of these things. As a result, when used in poetry, these words might simply fly over the reader’s head, without triggering any sensory response. Further, “liberty,” “happy,” and “love” can mean different things to different people. Therefore, if the poet uses such a word, the reader may take a different meaning from it than the poet intended.

Change Abstract Words Into Concrete Words

To avoid problems caused by using abstract words, use concrete words.

Example: “She felt happy.”

This line uses the abstract word “happy.” To improve this line, change the abstract word to a concrete image. One way to achieve this is to think of an object or a scene that evokes feelings of happiness to represent the happy feeling.

Improvement: “Her smile spread like red tint on ripening tomatoes.”

This line uses two concrete images: a smile and a ripening tomato. Describing the smile shows the reader something about happiness, rather than simply coming right out and naming the emotion. Also, the symbolism of the tomato further reinforces the happy feelings. Red is frequently associated with love; ripening is a positive natrual process; food is further associated with being satisfied.

Tip #7 Communicate Theme.

Poetry always has a theme. Theme is not just a topic, but an idea with an opinion.

Theme = Idea + Opinion

Topic: “The Vietnam War”

This is not a theme. It is only a subject. It is just an event. There are no ideas, opinions, or statements about life or of wisdom contained in this sentence

Theme: “History shows that despite our claims to be peace-loving, unfortunately each person secretly dreams of gaining glory through conflict.”

This is a theme. It is not just an event, but a statement about an event. It shows what the poet  thinks about the event. The poet strives to show the reader his/her theme during the entire poem, making use of literary techniques.

Tip #8 Subvert the Ordinary.

Poets’ strength is the  ability to see what other people see everyday in a new way . You don’t have to be special or a literary genius to write good poems–all you have to do is take an ordinary object, place, person, or idea, and come up with a new perception of it.

Example: People ride the bus everyday.

Poets’ Interpretation: A poet looks at the people on the bus and imagines scenes from their lives. A poet sees a sixty-year old woman and imagines a grandmother who runs marathons. A poet sees a two-year old boy and imagines him painting with ruby nail polish on the toilet seat, and his mother struggling to not respond in anger.

Take the ordinary and turn it on its head. (The word “subvert” literally means “turn upside down”.)

Tip #9 Rhyme with Extreme Caution.

Rhyme and meter (the pattern of stressed and unstressed words) can be dangerous if used the wrong way. Remember sing-song nursery rhymes? If you choose a rhyme scheme that makes your poem sound sing-song, it will detract from the quality of your poem.

I recommend that  beginning poets stick to free verse . It is hard enough to compose a poem without dealing with the intricacies of rhyme and meter. (Note: see Jerz’s response to this point, in “ Poetry Is For the Ear .”)

If you feel ready to create a rhymed poem, refer to chapters 6-10 of Stephen Minot’s book Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama . 6 th ed., for more help.

Tip #10 Revise, Revise, Revise.

The first completed draft of your poem is only the beginning. Poets often go through several drafts of a poem before considering the work “done.”

  • Put your poem away for a few days, and then come back to it. When you re-read it, does anything seem confusing? Hard to follow? Do you see anything that needs improvement that you overlooked the first time? Often, when you are in the act of writing, you may leave out important details because you are so familiar with the topic. Re-reading a poem helps you to see it from the “outsider’s perspective” of a reader.
  • Show your poem to others and ask for criticism. Don’t be content with a response like, “That’s a nice poem.” You won’t learn anything from that kind of response. Instead, find people who will tell you specific things you need to improve in your poem.

26 May 2000 — originally submitted by Kara Ziehl, as an assignment for Prof. Jerz’s technical writing class 01 Aug 2000 — modified and posted by Jerz 30 Nov 2001 — minor edits by Jerz 21 July 2011 — minor refresh 22 May 2013 — added intro before the tips. 24 Dec 2017 — minor formatting tweaks 09 Apr 2019 — corrected a 1000-year error caused by a typo in the above line

Handouts >  Creative Writing >  Poetry Tips

Poetry is for the Ear (

Poetry is for the Ear  — Whatever poetry you write or read, learn to listen with the ears of your audience. Pay attention to the sounds the words make, even if you write in free verse.

poetry writing help

Short Poems: Little Exquisite Vessels of Thought   –A few good lines of verse can pack as much emotional content as a whole paragraph of ordinary prose. Just because a poem is short does not mean writing it is easy.

poetry writing help

Getting College Credit for your High School Poems  –Poems that perfectly record how you felt about events in your life probably won’t work as submissions for college writing classes. Most professors will expect you to revise in-progress poems.

305 thoughts on “ Poetry Writing Tips: 10 Helpful Hacks for How to Write a Poem ”

It’s an interesting one

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I jumped from the introduction to the cliché section and kept reading until the end of the rhyming advice. This is powerful to post for someone to use as a subtle guideline during the writing process. Going through one of my poems on my blog, I rewrote it several times, making sure it hits the spot. Now, I feel once I post all 30 of my blogs, I’m going to go through each one and continue making modifications until it is perfect and sounds correct.

I am much impressed by the site,,it has motivated me as a poetry beginner In 1 year time I believe I shall be a great poet,thank you.

Poetry is a genre of literature, a genre of art, and a genre of life. It is a form of literary artwork due to its matchless beauty and magnitude of emotion.

I love poems

the above mentioned tips are amazing. i have got an outline on how this work of writing poems is done. soon i’m going to come up with my writings..thanks

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Hey sir, I want you to offer me some suggestions regarding my writing, I’m just a newbie. I don’t know where am I heading. Here is my piece of work down below. Have a look, please. Thank you.

My love has bruised my naive heart. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

She ran off, after approaching, where did she go? Her gestures had driven me crazy from the start. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

I had started out pursuing her path carelessly. waiting for her, turned me into ashes under the pot. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

I wish you to pass by my needy door someday. My faded eyes are being waited for you on spot. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

If you please remove this veil, my remiss love? As I’m burning in your remembrance, Oh my mascot. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

I have rubbed ashes on my body, don’t you go far. Would you keep pride to my pleas or not. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

Your vows have kept me alive to this day. Thereby, I offer my chest to every coming arrow shot. All of my senses went jerked a lot.

Ehmad there is nothing to pick on except don’t repeat the last line every time

You have poem for school childrens

Very informative article on how to write poetry thanks For sharing.

The tips for writing poem are really amazing! I really love to write poems. All the best to poem lovers!

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This will be an additional knowledge to me when I create my 2nd poetry book. Great tips!

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I can’t simply go without leaving a comment. This post is a great read.

I hope you can take the time to read my post as well: A Guide to Writing Exceptional Poetry

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Please what type of image can I give to Covid 19 as a poet

My first attempt As I gazed at the sky,I saw the beauty of Earth which is to be compared with yours It seems am an ant scavenging for crumbs of bread to behold the sight of a sheen, I could feel the warm,calm breeze touching my skin,just as I see the sun scorching like your eyes Your aura is like the sweet aroma of a banana, Your smile spread like the wings of a dove gliding over the deep blue ocean The sound of your voice could be linked to that of a mermaid….

My first attempt Please I’d like criticism

I see an engaging list of sensory details. What I’m looking for is some evidence of a revelation, an insight that changes the way the speaker (the “I” in the poem) thinks about the “you” who is the subject of the poem. Not all poems need to have that kind of a twist or revelation, but I’m looking for some kind of resolution. What new insight does the speaker gain, after gazing at the sky and doing all the comparisons listed in the poem? “Her big brown eyes were like pools that I could fall into and swim away from all my troubles.” That’s kind of silly (I claim no special talent as a poet) but it’s an example that goes beyond listing how X is like Y.

I’m not really an expert on these poem thing. But this is really a nice try of yours! Sounds very magical to me. But i kinda don’t understand some part of what you are trying to’s okay maybe because of some typos. Love it btw!

i love your first line

Ive been writing poems for a while now. My fathers death brought out feelings I could best express through poems. I’m curious if they are pretty good or need work.

Here’s one of my poems.

Baby blue eyes

When I saw you last, I looked in your eyes. You couldn’t speak, or even cry. You looked so lost and full of fear. All I could do, was wipe my tears.

I knew it was over, you felt so alone. I did what I could for your journey home. I stayed by your side, all through the night. Never leaving you, holding you tight.

My memories of you, are close to my heart. You’ll always be with me, we’ll never part. I’ll never forget how much I cried, I’ll never forget those baby blue eyes.

Dan, I would say that poems people write in order to express their feelings and to honor and commemorate a specific event in their life fall into the category of doing whatever feels right to you.

If you are interested in technical hints on becoming a better poet, I suggest you start with a poem that you feel is not “finished” — something you are still working on.

I have noticed that students who brought their “finished” high school poems into a college writing workshop are often so emotionally attached to their work that it was hard for them to cut out lines or whole stanzas or change whole organizational principles that weren’t working. This handout is focused specifically on high school poetry, but the general idea addresses using very personal poems in a writing workshop.

If what you’d like to do is polish this poem, then I’d say the line breaks in this submission are confusing (I’d expect line breaks after “eyes.” and “cry,” and “fear.”) Having said that, point 9 on this page cautions against rhyming for beginning poets, though I also wrote this handout that emphasizes the power of sounds in poems:

The lines “You looked so lost and full of fear” and “I’ll never forget how much I cried” TELL me what you felt, but poetry works best when, instead of listing the emotions the poet felt, the poem instead generates feelings in the reader.

I didn’t know your father, so when I read about you looking into his eyes, I don’t have the memory of decades of looking at your father’s smirk when he gets in a zinger during a dinnertime debate about politics, or seeing the scar on his right brow from the car accident you caused when he was teaching you to drive, etc. (Of course I made up those details, and so they don’t accurately reflect who your father is. What details WOULD accurately convey your father’s personality?)

Rather than TELLING me that your memories are close to your heart, can you instead spend time bringing me along with you as you relive just one really significant event? Think of how a movie really comes to life when the camera zooms in on a person talking about a memory, and then suddenly we see a younger version of that character living through the events they remembered. Sometimes movies might have the older version of the character right there in the scene, commenting, like Scrooge does during the flashbacks the Ghost of Christmas Past shows him. That’s what movies do — they dramatize for the camera. Poems do something different — they use very specific sensory details in order to conjure up emotions in the reader. But listing the emotions you felt is not the same thing as giving your reader a reason to feel something.

This handout on Showing vs. Telling focuses on short stories, but it’s the same principle. TELLING me what you feel is different from SHOWING me something and generating a feeling in me.

The professional writing advice “murder your darlings” emphasizes that even though we might be excited by and attached to what we wrote in a burst of inspired creative emotions, the process of editing and revision only works if we are objective and willing to trade off the emotional integrity of the experience we had WRITING a draft, with the technical requirements of what experienced readers will expect when READING a poem, and what they will find that’s original and effective, and what will seem predictable and overdone.

This site has a collection of poems about grief.

If you were a student in my class, and you said you wanted to write a poem about grief, I’d ask you to read a dozen or so classic and modern poems about loss, and I’d ask you to explore how those poets use sensory experiences, memory, juxtaposition, contrast and other literary techniques in order to accomplish something that moved you; and then I’d ask you to try using some of those same strategies in your own work.

How many modern works use rhyming couplets? Was your baby-blue-eyed father a 300-pound professional wrestler? Were his eyes important to his profession, or to do something he loved to do, or something he did selflessly and reliably for the family?

When I was a kid, I found where my dad kept his “to do” list, and I decided I’d spend about 30 minutes a week doing something on that list, without being asked, and without telling him. Vacuuming the stairs, watering the lawn, that sort of thing. Sometimes when he saw me doing the task, or when he went to do it and found it had been done, he would be in such a good mood that he’d invite me out for ice cream.

If I wanted to put that detail into a poem, I wouldn’t say “here’s a thing that used to happen all the time. I would do a thing on my father’s to-do list, and he’d be so happy he’d invite me out for ice cream.”

Instead, I’d introduce my father as a barrel-chested former weight-lifter, who was not a hugger, who commuted for decades to an office job that he hated, and but hummed happily when he was sanding boards and chopping wood. On one day he was grumpy after doing his taxes, and I saw him making a cup of coffee and putting on his work clothes, so I turned off my video game and dashed out the back door, so that he’d see me uncoiling the garden hose and setting up the lawn sprinkler. Instead of just TELLING you that I noticed the tension leave his body; I’d SHOW that as he took in what he saw, his hands slowly unclenched, and he went back inside. When I came in a little later, he was humming to himself while flipping through the sports page, and he asked if I wanted to go out for ice cream.

I wouldn’t add a line about how “I’ll never forget how it felt when he reached across the back of the car seat to give my neck an affectionate squeeze”. Instead, I’d come up with a simile to describe the weight of his hand on my neck, and then I’d flash back to my very first memory, which is of my father holding me above his head, telling me to straighten out like a board and pressing my nose against the ceiling; and then I’d flash forward to a few months ago when I visited him, now well into his 80s; he had some trouble getting out of a chair, and without interrupting his story about a play the Bears made, he just casually reached out his hand so I could help him stand.

My poem would be full of references to hands and touching, but I probably wouldn’t title it “The Touch of My Father’s Hand” and I wouldn’t insult the reader by announcing the poem’s theme. I would just pick these specific memories of physical contact with my father, and I would try to make each one of them meaningful sensory experiences to the reader. I wouldn’t insert commentary listing my own feelings, and I wouldn’t try to tell the reader how they were supposed to react.

What are some other ways that your father’s eyes have been meaningful to you? Let your reader get to know your father’s eyes in happier times, so that we can feel the contrast for ourselves.

Thank you for your input Dennis. This is why I put it out there. I wanted to know how and what I can improve on. I’ll look at all you examples and hopefully learn from them. Again, thank you!

Sir may I ask permission if I can cite your tips in the module that I am writing for the Senior High School? I just found your tips practical for the high school students.

Yes, you may cite these tips.

your comment is longer then the article

What an eloquently phrased and well-supported response. So persuasive, too!

That is good but I think you should work on organizing it to specific lines

I really like this poem. My own father passed recently and I totally could relate. Thank you for sharing it. I just came across it today. Sorry for your loss.

you are freaking amazing.

I am learning

I happened to write few poems without knowing how to write.. Thank you for all d informations .. I shall follow the instructions and see how my poetry writing skill changes over the months🙏Ranbir laishram

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One may secure 9/9 band in IELTS but writing poetry in English is it self a new subject. It is very well written article and if followed the correct steps as described above. It can help improve the poetry writing skills a lot. One should pay attention to the following questions.

“What should I write poems about?” “How should I decide the right form for my poem?” “What are common mistakes that new poets make, and how can I avoid them?” “How do I write free verse/blank verse/sonnets/haikus etc.?”

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I think a good poet is very good at observing their surroundings. They are able to push these elements of life into creative writing, which can be in the form of poetry. I liked the poem by Sean Francisco in the comments. Poem Spark – Beautiful title.

Wow,wonderful explanations and recommendations of poetry.I am a poet too.You can find my poetry blog here It is a must visit for poetry lovers.

I really enjoyed your explanation, thanks a million and God bless you with more wisdom.

In the 3rd book in my Butterflies series, I am writing a 3rd section on poem structure. Now I have my own idea about how a poem is written and I just had to run a Google search for comparison.

I just wrote this poem in maybe 30 minutes, good or bad, you all call it. I like it pretty good, I think. I’m definitely adding it to my next book.

No offense, This is my Poem Spark.

An ancient Jeraboam, would want you to know, there is but one poem, it’s of our soul.

Its wine warmed in the heart, God given to man. There is just one start, with all the world at your hand.

Don’t be afraid! Yes, sing us your song. It’s your history made. You can do no wrong.

After your gold, gleams light on the dark please always be so bold, you make a Poem Spark.

Sean Francisco

thanks for the great job Dan


My father wrote this poem; I don’t know if you can consider this as a poem coz i don’t know what figure of speech or style he employed here. Would appreciate your expertise here c: Thank you in advance!


My People My poor people My suffering people My forsaken people Fooled and deceived Dazzled and misled Silenced and blinded Lulled and deluded Swindled and cheated Plundered and looted Burdened and tormented Trapped and exploited Captured and manipulated Trampled and invaded Swamped and dominated Starved and enslaved Denied and deserted Blamed and derided Ignored and dismayed Shamed and prostituted Mortgaged and conveyed Condemned and uprooted Terrorized and bullied Paralyzed and BETRAYED

By ruthless self-proclaimed leaders And by scheming alien invaders Who in reality are deceivers Who in truth are exploiters Who in fact are slavers Who in short are BETRAYERS Of my poor and endangered people A PEOPLE BETRAYED

A people full of sorrows A people full of sufferings A people full of burden A people full of pain A people full of despair A people full of confusion A people full of shame A people full of difficulties A people full of tragedies A people full of nightmares

Fooled and deceived Dazzled and misled Silenced and blinded Lulled and deluded Swindled and cheated Plundered and looted Burdened and tormented Trapped and exploited Captured and manipulated Trampled and invaded Swamped and dominated Starved and enslaved Denied and deserted Blamed and derided Ignored and dismayed Shamed and prostituted Mortgaged and conveyed Condemned and uprooted Terrorized and bullied Paralyzed and BETRAYED

A nation full of fools A nation full of slaves A nation full of beggars A nation full of captives

A nation full of cowards A nation full of idiots A nation full of sycophants A nation full of robots

A nation full of liars A nation full of hypocrites A nation full of clowns A nation full of puppets

A nation full of rascals A nation full of maniacs A nation full of crooks A nation full of monkeys

A nation full of deserters A nation full of bystanders A nation full of profiteers A nation full of racketeers

A nation full of pretenders A nation full of blusterers A nation full of squanderers A nation full of blunderers

A nation full of deceivers A nation full of invaders A nation full of conspirators A nation full of saboteurs

A nation full of slanderers A nation full of distorters A nation full of captors A nation full of tormentors

A nation full of exploiters A nation full of plunderers A nation full of oppressors A nation full of traitors

My people My poor people My suffering people My forsaken people My starving people My condemned people A people deceived A people misled A people exploited A people dominated A people enslaved A PEOPLE BETRAYED!

that’s not a poem, just a list of words. it literally does the opposite of all the tips given above, i.e. not a single concrete image to help the reader see in their own head. “my poor people” gives the reader zero visually, emotionally. who are the people? if concrete details were described — their unique clothes, or land, or actions — the reader would see them. right now, they are invisible.

a tip not given above: Compress! make the poem as short as possible to convey the idea. who wants to read or hear the phrase “a nation” 36 times, or “people” 30 times?.

I can certainly imagine an in-person recitation of this composition being very personal, very passionate, and very meaningful. Spoken-word performances are very different creatures from the kind of literary poetry that this page covers. This text states that a certain list of adjectives apply “in reality,” “in truth” and “in fact” to a certain group, but as “J z” mentioned a list of words doesn’t work on the reader’s emotions in the way that literary poetry does. We’d need to depend up seeing your father’s face, hearing his voice, and knowing about your relationship to your father, in order for these words to have the kind of effect on us that they may have on you.

What do these words mean to your father? What does he mean to you? How can you make us, the reader, feel those relationships?

No the above tips are useful only bro 😉😉😉

Just a list of words, where the author tries too hard to make it relevant that they know an average amount of vocabulary. There is no story, no continuity, no rhythm.

Do you have any constructive criticism to offer? It’s okay if this poem doesn’t use the techniques you prefer.

I don’t know exactly it is a poem or not. I can feel it because now in my country, Myanmar (formerly Burma), our People are suffering the same the author writes about.

YES! This is a poem.. Superb

My first attempt:

Her red lipstick covered lips raised like the oceans blue waves.

Her happiness is like the silver stared night sky.

The night sky is like a calm breeze brushing against her skin on a warm summer night.

The breeze is like her inner breath. Breathing comes to her like a diligent and vibrant brush stroke.

Her happiness is like the sweet aroma of the calming ocean saltwater.

Her happiness relies on others like stain colored glass relies on the very sand beneath her fingertips.

What do you guys think!! I need constructive criticism!

Very well, thought out

This is totally the best I’ve seen. It’s also an inspiration.

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How to Read a Poem

Reading poetry well is part attitude and part technique. Curiosity is a useful attitude, especially when it's free of preconceived ideas about what poetry is or should be. Effective technique directs your curiosity into asking questions, drawing you into a conversation with the poem.

Where to Start

Book Recommendations

We asked dozens of notable poets to reveal the books they frequently recommend to students or new poetry readers.

Groundbreaking Books

Know which books have most dramatically influenced today's poetry landscape.

Featured Essays

The Great Figure: On Figurative Language by D. A. Powell

When we think of great poems that we love, we think of the ways in which the language casts a certain light upon some occasion or subject to create a new and impressive way of listening, seeing, experiencing the world.

Another and Another Before That: Some Thoughts on Reading by Carl Phillips

If all we can ever know comes filtered through the lens of our own experience, and if we are readers, some part of our very selves will be the result of what we have read. Reasons for Poetry by William Meredith Poets, in the large Greek sense of makers, are crucial to a culture. They respond newly, but in the familiar tribal experience of language, to what new thing befalls the tribe.

Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World by Mary Ruefle a great extension of time, a way for one person to live a thousand and one lives in a single lifespan, to watch the great impersonal universe at work.

Death to the Death of Poetry by Donald Hall

I believe in the quality of the best contemporary poetry; I believe that the best American poetry of our day makes a considerable literature.

Browse Anthologies

Many poetry readers discover new work by reading anthologies.

Featured Resources

Poetry Glossary

A brief guide to understanding basic terms, including the various elements of figurative language, poetic devices, forms, and meter.

Poetry Forms & Techniques

Overviews of everything from traditional forms, such as the ode, to more experimental styles, such as OULIPO.

Schools & Movements

Introductions to the founding principles and poets associated with various literary trends, from Romanticism to Ethnopoetics.

Reading Guides

Reading poetry will make you a better reader. If you write poetry, reading poetry will make you a better poet. As former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky has said: "Poetry connects us with our deep roots, our evolution as an animal that evolved rhythmic language as a means of transmitting vital information across the generations. We need the comfort and stimulation that this vital part of us gets from the ancient art." Here are some guides to help you as you begin.

Walt Whitman

Whitman's great subject was America, but he wrote on an expansive variety of smaller subjects to accomplish the task of capturing the essence of this country.

Emily Dickinson

Drawing from primarily musical forms such as hymns and ballads, and modifying them with her own sense of rhythm and sound.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes became the voice of black America in the 1920s, when his first published poems brought him more than moderate success.

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6 Online Tools for Poets

Some days, the creativity flows easier than others—and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with seeking a little help. There are a number of online tools for poets that can help fuel your writing. Whether you’re looking for a unique word, an interesting rhyme, or general inspiration, these six online poetry tools can help you find the way. 

If you’ve ever wanted to jump into a dictionary feet-first, Visuwords is the perfect playground. This online tool is a great option for finding inspiration. Simply type in a word and watch a web of related words and concepts spring forth. Allow yourself to tumble from topic to topic as you learn, and double click on any word bubble to start another cluster. 

Green’s Dictionary of Slang

If you want to take your word choice beyond Webster’s Dictionary, Green’s Dictionary of Slang can be a great place to start. This online tool is a repository of information on English slang—over 500 years of it, in fact. You can use the browse section to investigate a group of slang words, or you can search by history, meaning, or usage. If you’re looking for general inspiration, they offer a word of the day as well. 

There are many online rhyme generators out there, but rhymer is among the best for poets. Its simple interface is easy to use but complex enough to allow you to search for specific types of rhymes, like end rhymes, beginning rhymes, double-rhymes, and more. Simply select your desired rhyme from the drop-down menu, and type in the word you’re hoping to rhyme with. Rhymer will show you several options—even for the word “orange.” Ever blank on the next line? Keep Rhymer in your back pocket. 

Is hesitation slowing you down? Get to the next step faster with Twin Word. This tool is like Apple’s predictive text on steroids. The program analyzes the context of your writing, senses when you pause, and opens a box of suggestions for what to write next. You can also search for synonyms or other related words within your writing using the highlight tool, or take it to the next level by highlighting an entire phrase or paragraph. 

Are you easily distracted? Fine-tune your focus with Omm Writer. This free online poetry tool helps eliminate distractions and offers a soothing soundscape to help you write. Omm Writer fills your screen with a soothing background and hypnotic keystroke sounds to help you get in the zone. Choose from two different experiences: a light, mountainscape background with keyboard sounds, or a dark, starry background with soothing raindrop sounds with each keystroke. Copy and paste your text or download it when you’re done. 

Writer’s Digest: Write Better Poetry

There’s a good chance you’re familiar with Writer’s Digest, as the organization has been helping writers improve their craft since 1920. Their Write Better Poetry page offers a slew of resources for poets, but perhaps one of the best things about this page is the many challenges to choose from. If you’re struggling with inspiration or looking for exercises to help you warm up your writerly brain, check out their monthly challenges, poetry prompts, and poetic form challenges.


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101 Poetry Prompts & Ideas for Writing Poems

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Not sure what to write a poem about? Here’s 101 poetry prompts to get you started!

poetry writing prompts

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These poetry prompts are designed to help you keep a creative writing practice. If you’re staring at a blank page and the words aren’t flowing, the creative writing prompts for poems can be a great way to get started!

New for 2023! Due to popular demand, I created a printable, ad-free version of these poetry prompts you can download to use at home or even in the classroom! Get them at our Etsy Shop .

Even if poetry isn’t your thing, you could always use these things to inspire other writing projects. Essays, journal entries, short stories, and flash fiction are just a few examples of ways this list can be used.

You may even find this list of creative poetry writing prompts helpful as an exercise to build your skills in descriptive writing and using metaphors!

Let’s get onto the list, shall we?

Here are 101 Poetry Prompts for Creative Writing

Most of these creative writing ideas are simple and open-ended. This allows you total creative freedom to write from these poetry prompts in your own unique style, tone, and voice.

If one poetry idea doesn’t appeal to you, challenge yourself to find parallels between the prompt and things that you do enjoy writing about!

1.The Untouchable : Something that will always be out of reach

2. 7 Days, 7 Lines : Write a poem where each line/sentence is about each day of last week

3. Grandma’s Kitchen : Focus on a single memory, or describe what you might imagine the typical grandmother’s kitchen to be like

4. Taste the Rainbow : What does your favorite color taste like?

5. Misfits: How it feels when you don’t belong in a group of others.

6. Stranger Conversations : Start the first line of your poem with a word or phrase from a recent passing conversation between you and someone you don’t know.

7. On the Field : Write from the perspective of a sports ball {Baseball, Soccer, Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, etc.} – think about what the sports ball might feel, see, hear, think, and experience with this poetry idea!

8. Street Signs: Take note of the words on signs and street names you pass while driving, walking, or riding the bus. Write a poem starting with one of these words you notice.

9. Cold water: What feelings do you associate with cold water? Maybe it’s a refreshing cold glass of water on a hot day, or maybe you imagine the feelings associated with being plunged into the icy river in the winter.

10. Ghostwriter: Imagine an invisible ghost picks up a pen and starts writing to you.

11. Lessons From Math Class: Write about a math concept, such as “you cannot divide by zero” or never-ending irrational numbers.

12. Instagram Wall: Open up either your own Instagram account or one of a friend/celebrity and write poetry based on the first picture you see.

13. Radio: Tune in to a radio station you don’t normally listen to, and write a poem inspired by the the first song or message you hear.

14. How To : Write a poem on how to do something mundane most people take for granted, such as how to tie your shoes, how to turn on a lamp, how to pour a cup of coffee.

15. Under 25 Words : Challenge yourself to write a poem that is no more than 25 words long.

16. Out of Order: Write about your feelings when there is an out of order sign on a vending machine.

17. Home Planet: Imagine you are from another planet, stuck on earth and longing for home.

18. Uncertainty : Think about a time in your life when you couldn’t make a decision, and write based on this.

19. Complete : Be inspired by a project or task be completed – whether it’s crossing something off the never-ending to-do list, or a project you have worked on for a long time.

20. Compare and Contrast Personality : What are some key differences and similarities between two people you know?

21. Goodbyes : Write about a time in your life you said goodbye to someone – this could be as simple as ending a mundane phone conversation, or harder goodbyes to close friends, family members, or former partners.

22. Imagine Weather Indoors : Perhaps a thunderstorm in the attic? A tornado in the kitchen?

23. Would You Rather? Write about something you don’t want to do, and what you would rather do instead.

24. Sound of Silence : Take some inspiration from the classic Simon & Garfunkel song and describe what silence sounds like.

25. Numbness : What’s it like to feel nothing at all?

26. Fabric Textures : Use different fiber textures, such as wool, silk, and cotton as a poetry writing prompt.

27. Anticipation : Write about the feelings you experience or things you notice while waiting for something.

28. Poison: Describe something toxic and its effects on a person.

29. Circus Performers: Write your poetry inspired by a circus performer – a trapeze artist, the clowns, the ringmaster, the animal trainers, etc.

30. Riding on the Bus : Write a poem based on a time you’ve traveled by bus – whether a school bus, around town, or a long distance trip to visit a certain destination.

31. Time Freeze : Imagine wherever you are right now that the clock stops and all the people in the world are frozen in place. What are they doing?

32. The Spice of Life : Choose a spice from your kitchen cabinet, and relate its flavor to an event that has happened recently in your daily life.

33. Parallel Universe : Imagine you, but in a completely different life based on making a different decision that impacted everything else.

34. Mad Scientist : Create a piece based on a science experiment going terribly, terribly wrong.

35. People You Have Known : Make each line about different people you have met but lost contact with over the years. These could be old friends, passed on family, etc.

36. Last Words : Use the last sentence from the nearest book as the inspiration for the first line of your poem.

37. Fix This : Think about something you own that is broken, and write about possible ways to fix it. Duct tape? A hammer and nails?

hammer poetry prompt idea

38. Suspicion : Pretend you are a detective and you have to narrow down the suspects.

39. Political News : Many famous poets found inspiration from the current politics in their time. Open up a newspaper or news website, and create inspired by the first news article you find.

40. The Letter D : Make a list of 5 words that start with all with the same letter, and then use these items throughout the lines of your verse. {This can be any letter, but for example sake: Daisy, Dishes, Desk, Darkness, Doubt}

41. Quite the Collection : Go to a museum, or look at museum galleries online. Draw your inspiration from collections of objects and artifacts from your favorite display. Examples: Pre-historic days, Egyptians, Art Galleries, etc.

42. Standing in Line : Think of a time you had to stand in line for something. Maybe you were waiting in a check-out line at the store, or you had to stand in line to enter a concert or event.

43. Junk Mail Prose: Take some inspiration from your latest junk mail. Maybe it’s a grocery store flyer announcing a sale on grapes, or an offer for a credit card.

44. Recipe : Write your poem in the form of a recipe. This can be for something tangible, such as a cake, or it can be a more abstract concept such as love or happiness. List ingredients and directions for mixing and tips for cooking up your concept to perfection.

45. Do you like sweaters? Some people love their coziness, others find them scratchy and too hot. Use your feelings about sweaters in a poem.

46. After Party : What is it like after all party guests go home?

47. Overgrown : Use  Little Shop of Horrors  for inspiration, or let your imagination run wild on what might happen if a plant or flower came to life or started spreading rapidly to take over the world.

48. Interference: Write a poem that is about someone or something coming in between you and your goals.

49. On Shaky Ground: Use an earthquake reference or metaphor in your poem.

50. Trust Issues : Can you trust someone you have doubted in the past?

51. Locked in a Jar: Imagine you are a tiny person, who has been captured and put into a jar for display or science.

52. Weirder Than Fiction: Think of the most unbelievable moment in your life, and write a poem about the experience.

53. Fast Food: Write a poem about fast food restaurants and experiences.

fast food writing prompt hamburger

54. Unemployed: Write a poem about quitting or being fired from a job you depended on.

55. Boxes: What kinds of family secrets or stories might be hiding in that untouched box in the attic?

56. No One Understands : Write about what it feels like when no one understands or agrees with your opinion.

57. Criminal Minds : Write a poem from the perspective of a high-profile criminal who is always on the run from law enforcement.

58. Marathon Runner : Write a poem about what training you might be doing to accomplish a difficult challenge in your life.

59. Trapped : Write about an experience that made you feel trapped.

60. Passing the Church : Write a poem about noticing something interesting while passing by a church near your home.

61. Backseat Driver: Write about what it’s like to be doing something in your life and constantly being criticized while trying to move ahead.

62. Luster: Create a descriptive poem about something that has a soft glow or sheen to it.

63. Clipboard: Write a poem about someone who is all business like and set in their ways of following a system.

64. Doctor: Write a poem about receiving advice from a doctor.

65. First Car : Write an ode to your first car

66. Life Didn’t Go As a Planned : Write about a recent or memorable experience when nothing went according to plan.

67. Architect : Imagine you are hired to design a building for a humanitarian cause you are passionate about.

68. The Crazy Cat Hoarder : Write about someone who owns far too many cats.

69. Queen : Write a poem from the perspective of a queen.

70. Movie Character : Think of a recent movie you watched, and create a poem about one character specifically, or an interaction between two characters that was memorable.

71. Potential Energy : Write about an experience where you had a lot of potential for success, but failed.

72. Moonlight : Write about an experience in the moonlight.

73. Perfection : Write about trying to always keep everything perfect.

74. You Are Wrong : Write a poem where you tell someone they are wrong and why.

75. Sarcasm : Write a poem using sarcasm as a form of illustrating your point.

76. Don’t Cry : Write a poem about how not to cry when it’s hard to hold back the tears.

77. Listen Up: Write a poem telling someone they are better than they think they are.

78. Flipside : Find the good in something terrible.

79. Maybe They Had a Reason : Write a poem about someone doing something you don’t understand, and try to explain what reasons they might have had.

80. How to Drive : Write a poem that explains how to drive to a teenager.

81. Up & Down the Steps: Write a poem that includes the motion of going up or down a staircase

82. Basket Case: Has there ever been a time when you thought you might lose your mind? Jot your feelings and thoughts down in verse form.

83. Lucky Guess:  Many times in our life we have to make a good guess for what is the best decision. Use this poetry idea to write about feelings related to guessing something right – or wrong.

84. Dear Reader:  What audience enjoys reading the type of poetry you like to write? Craft a note to your potential audience that addresses their biggest fears, hopes, and dreams.

85. All or Nothing : Share your thoughts on absolutist thinking: when one’s beliefs are so set in stone there are no exceptions.

86. Ladders in the Sky : Imagine there are ladders that take you up to the clouds. What could be up there? What feelings do you have about climbing the ladders, or is their a mystery as to how they got there in the first place?

ladder poetry prompt

87. Always On My Mind: Compose a poem about what it’s like to always be thinking about someone or something.

88. Paranoia : What would it be like if you felt like someone was watching you but no one believed you?

89. Liar, Liar: How would you react to someone who lied to you?

90. Secret Word: What’s the magic word to unlock someone’s access to something?

91. For What It’s Worth: Use a valuable object in your home as inspiration as a poetry prompt idea.

92. Coming Home to Secrets: Imagine a person who puts on a good act to cover up a secret they deal with at home.

93. Productivity: Talk about your greatest struggles with time management and organization.

94. Defying Gravity: Use words that relate to being weightless and floating.

95. Signs of the Times : How has a place you are familiar with changed over the past 10 years?

96. Sleepless Nights : What ideas and feelings keep you up at night? What’s it like when you have to wake up in the morning on a night you can’t sleep?

97. You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit : Use one of the worst job related memories you can think of as a creative writing prompt.

98. By George : You can choose any name, but think of 3-5 notable figures or celebrities who share a common first name, and combine their personalities and physical characteristics into one piece of poetry. For example: George Washington, George Clooney, George Harrison.

99. Shelter : Write a poem about a time you were thankful for shelter from a storm.

100. Cafeteria : Create a poem inspired by the people who might be eating lunch in a cafeteria at school or at a hospital.

101. Dusty Musical Instruments : Base your poem around the plight of a musician who hasn’t picked up the guitar or touched a piano in years.

Love these prompts? The printable, ad-free version of these poetry prompts can be used offline or in the classroom! Get them at our Etsy Shop .

There are unlimited possibilities for ways you can use these poem ideas to write poetry. Using a list like this can greatly help you with getting into the habit of writing daily – even when you don’t feel inspired to write.

While not every poem you write will be an award-winning masterpiece, using these poem starters as a regular exercise can help you better your craft as a writer.

I hope you enjoy these poetry prompts – and if you write anything you’d like to share inspired by these creative poetry writing prompts, let us know in the comments below – we love to see how others use writing ideas to create their own work!

And of course, don’t forget to get the ad-free poetry prompt cards printable version if you’d like to use these prompts offline, in the classroom or with your small group!

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Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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I had a wonderful inspiration from prompt number 49 “On Shaky Ground,” although it’s not exactly about an earthquake. I wanted to share it on here, so I hope you enjoy it!

Title: “Shaking Ground”

The ground’s shaking My heart’s aching I’m getting dizzy My mind’s crazy

On shaking ground It’s like I’m on a battleground We’re all fighting for love Dirtying our white glove

The ground’s shaking My body’s quaking Love is so cruel Making me a fool

On shaking ground We are all love-bound Stuck in a crate Nobody can avoid this fate

The ground’s shaking We are all waking Opening our eyes Everyone dies

On shaking ground Our love is profound Although we are separate Better places await

The ground’s shaking Death’s overtaking Heaven is descending The world’s ending

On shaking ground In love we are drowned

Awesome interpretation Amanda! Thanks for sharing!

heyyy, I have written something regarding prompt 27 and 96 The Night Charms.

Do you dread the dark; Or do you adore the stars? Do you really think the fire place is that warm; Or you just envy the night charms? The skyline tries to match the stars’ sparkle, The sky gets dark, the vicinity gets darker. The “sun” has set for the day being loyal; These are now the lamps burning the midnight oil. The Eve so busy, that everyone forgets to praise its beauty. The sun has set without anyone bidding him an adieu, Failed to demonstrate its scintillating view. The moon being the epitome of perfection, Has the black spots, Depicting an episode of it’s dark past.

And I sit; I sit and wonder till the dawn. What a peaceful time it is, To have a small world of your own. Away from the chaos, I found a soul that was lost. So tired, yet radiant, Trying to be someone she’s not in the end. That bewitching smile held my hand, Carried me back to shore, letting me feel my feet in the sand. The waves moved to and fro, Whispering to me as they go, “Oh girl, my girl This is the soul you have within you, Never let it vanish, For it alters you into something good and something new, Don’t let the cruel world decide, Don’t let anyone kill that merry vibe.”

Then I saw my own soul fade, Fly into my heart, For what it was made. Oh dear lord, The night’s silence became my solace, My life lessons were made by the waves. Who am I? What have I done to myself? Many questions were answered in self reproach, The answers were still unspoken with no depth. Oh dear night, What have you done to me? Or should I thank you for putting a soul that I see. The nights spent later were now spectacular, My darkness somehow added some light to my life, Making it fuller… Everyday after a day, walking through the scorching lawns, I wait for the the dusk to arrive, and then explore myself till the dawn.

This is so amazing I ran out of words. Very lit thoughts beautifully penned. Keep writing like this dude.❤🌻

That is beautiful, it inspired me to write about my fears, thank you!!

Thank you for the inspiration! 😀 This was based of 21 and 77 (I think those were the numbers lol)

Goodbye to the days when we played together in the sun Goodbye to the smile on your face and to all of the fun I look at you, so dull and blue How long before I can say hello to the real you You are worth more than you think At the very least, you are to me Though there are greater things that wait for you than the least You are worthy of the most, the greatest of things If only goodbye could be ‘see you later’ I want to see the real you again To your suffering I don’t want to be just a spectator I want it all to end Goodbye to my only friend I want to heal you but I don’t know how I wish I had this all figured out Please come back to me I just want you to be free

Thank u so much im more inspired after seeing these creative ideas. 🤗

Glad they inspired you!

Thanks for sharing Amanda!

That was beautiful! I am a writer too! I actually just finished writing one but, it wasn’t from this website, just kind of something that’s been on my head for a while you know? Anyways, again, that was awesome! I am a Christian, and I love seeing people write about that kind of stuff! 🙂

I am jim from Oregon. I am also a writer, not very good but active. I am a Christian as well as you are. Sometimes it is hard to come up with something to write about.

All of a sudden, I have started to write poetry. Do you like all forms of writing? I would enjoy reading some of you work if you would you would like to s if you would like to send me some.

i have written one about frozen time:

my brother will be drawing, his pencil wont leave the sheet, my mother hearing the radio, today’s news on repeat. my sister, in fact, is making her bed, she’ll be making it still, till the last bug is dead. me, on the other hand, i’ll be visiting you, i’ll see you in action, doing the things that you do, i’ll be happy to see you, just a last time, i’ll kiss your still lips, and hold for a while. then i’ll take a plane to saudi, where i’ll see my dad, he’ll be swimming with turtles, he will not seem sad. i have lived on this earth, for 15 whole years, time for goodbye, with not a single tear.

hey beautifully expressed…!!!

Beautifully penned 🌼

I love it I tried one out myself as well Change

She sat looking out the window. The sound of the piano’s cheerful tune ringing out throughout the room. The sweet smell of burnt pine emanating from her fireplace. The sky is blue and the sun shines bright. She closes her eyes for a second. She opens them again. The window is broken and scattered on the ground. The piano sits covered in ashes, every symphony played now just a distant memory replaced with a discordant melody. The room smells of smoke and ash. The sky is dark and rain falls on the remnants of her home. Not a living thing in sight,not even her.

Nice one Amanda. kind of tells me the chronology of love and its eventualities.

such a dilightful poem, thanks for the word that made the day for me. you are such a good poet.

Omg! What!! This is amazing! I’d love to feature this piece on my blog I also love this blog post by, planning on putting the link in my next blog post so others can come over here to check it out! So helpful!

this is so great! I’ve been needing inspiration. this might work

Thank you so much for this article! I love the profundity and open-endedness of the prompts. Here is a poem I wrote, drawing inspiration from #56, “No One Understands.” I wrote this from the perspective of a psychic Arcturian Starseed in her teenage years and how the world perceives her spiritual connection; while at the same time hinting at the true meaning of her various baffling actions. Enjoy 🙂

Starseed – a poem on perspective

In the snow She stands alone Wrapped in shrouds of mystery Her gentle hand gloved with giving Caressing A violet stone

Math class is dismissed But there still she sits Speaking to the ceiling in tender tones A soft and healing resonance Murmuring sweetly of ascension to Another, dearer dimension

In homeroom Her classmate weeps Of missed planes and shattered dreams Quietly She strokes the hand of the suffering And whispers then of channeling Some celestial utopia called Arcturus Where she claims to have been.

Please feel free to let me know where I need to improve! I’m fourteen years old and only an amateur, so a few suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, love and light 🙂

#79 I don’t know why he was so mad Did he not get his mail Was he already mad Or did he only get bills

He swung his arm with force He caused a loud bang He hurt his own hand He left with some blood

He is the man that punched the mailbox His hand dripped blood on it He left it with a dent He left it alone after that

That’s great Michael, thank you for sharing your response to one of the prompts!

Awesome! That was simple and yet creative

Interesting tips and keywords for boosting inspiration. I’ve found some good topic for start writing. Thanks

sleepless nights (#96)

it’s never a strangled cry that drags me from my dreams, but a gentle whisper, there to nudge the socks off my feet, and settle me back into the sheets. i seem to wake before i’ve had a chance to fall to rest.

why is it that i can never sleep, but always dream?

sleepless nights rule my life and drag me by my toes, throwing me into a sky of black and blue. not a single star can break through this spillage. and i sit and wonder in a sea of sheets, rippling around me, why my mind can swim these dark, tangling waters and i never need to take a breath.

have you ever noticed how static-filled the dark is? because when i lay buried under these burdens and blankets, the world seems ready to crumble under my grasp.

i can’t sleep, but i can dream, of days when i wasn’t pulled struggling from bed but awoken into the light. i wonder how i ever survived the grainy sky’s midnight troubles, the oil spill of its thunderclouds, the sandpaper raspiness of the three a.m. earth against my throat.

oh, how i can never sleep in a world that threatens to fall apart.

this is amazing! i hope i can be this good one day

once again beautiful <3

Thank you so much for these prompts! They’re so thought-provoking.

You’re welcome! Glad you enjoy them!

Take me back to those days, When I was allowed to dream, Where no one use to scream. Take me back to those days, When I was a child, Where I never use to find reasons to smile. Take me Take back to those days, When I never used to lie, Where I never used to shy. Take me back those carefreee days, When I was far away from school days. Take me back to those days , where every one used to prase, no matter how foolish i behave. Take me back to those days, when i wasn’t stuck between fake people. Take me back to the day I was born, So that I could live those days again………….

so mine is basically a mix between 76 and 77… I made it for my literature club i recently began trying to make.

‘Listen to me’ Listen to me your words mean more than you think your opinion is worthy to be shared your songs are capable of being sung

Listen to me

your smile is bright your frown shows nothing more than you should be cared for like you care for us.

your laughter is delightful and so is everything else

dont let the past go hurt you find strength in the experience

are you listening to me?

can you here me?

because YOU matter

Nice, thank you for sharing!

Prompt #1 “Untouchable”

Grasping Reaching Searching for the untouchable The indescribable On the tip of my tongue My fingertips Close to my heart But warping my brain Yet understood in the depths of my soul Emotions undiscovered Words Unsaid Deep in the depths of my mind Hand outstretched Lingering on the edge Eyes wide open But somehow still blind Unattainable But still in the hearts of The Brave The Curious The Resilient They Seek the unseekable They pursue the unattainable Each man seeing it in a different aspect Each of their visions blurred Each distorted by Experiences Traumas Wishes Dreams Filtering what’s untouchable

Thank you, glad you enjoy it!

I had good inspiration from #51, locked in a jar. I used it more metaphorically instead of literally. So here it is: glass walls, lid screwed on tight, can’t escape, not even at night. From the inside, looking out, this is not who I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be bigger, I’m supposed to be free, not stuck in a jar, no room to breathe. I need to move, I need to soar, I need to be able to speak my opinions and more. So as I look down at my tiny self, in this glass jar, “let me out, I can’t take it anymore”, I say to the bigger me, the one ignoring my tiny pleas.

Just wanted to add a twist to this promt. I’m just a beginner in the art of poetry, but I tried. If anyone has any creative criticism, go ahead! #16: our of order

My brain is out of order My thoughts have filled it to the brim Of my deepest thoughts of who I am Who we are As people We are out of order Never focusing on what we want Our passions All we ever get is work on top of work Pushing us down and down Like a giant hand Squeezing us into the depths of our depressions Until We can do anything But take it Anymore

Thank you Ash for sharing your take on the prompt with us!

Thank you ASH for reminding we can do anything if we try

Was inspired by #77 listen up Listen up…….! When would you listen up! Seems! you have given up! No matter who shut you up! Stand straight and look up!

Look up don’t be discouraged Let you heart be filled with courage Listen up and be encouraged Let life be sweet as porridge

You might have been down Like you have no crown Because deep down You were shut down

There is still hope When there is life Yes! You can still cope If you can see the light Yes! Even in the night

Oh listen up! Please listen up and take charge, You are better than the best Listen up! And oh! Please listen up.

beautifully written!

I wrote a poem using prompt 21 and I’m so proud of it. Comment if you want me to post it🤓

I bet the poem you wrote about prompt 21 is really good. I would like to read it please.

Mental prison, what a way to be trapped, being hidden, being snapped,

Clear glass is all i feel, apart from people, I hope I heal, I will never be equal,

I am different I am hurt raging currents people put on high alert but no one cares

No one dreads many tears I only have so many more threads

One day I’ll be gone but no one would care I will run away from the death chair

But until then

Mental prison what a way to be trapped being hidden being snapped

One day this will all blow away someday I will be molded out of clay but until then I will be lead astray

This is so darn awesome. It’s so deep and evokes the deepest of feelings🥰

I wrote almost the same thing omg I’m turning it into a contest entry

Inspired by No. 1! I am completely new to poetry, but I love it so much already! Here it is.

Perfection is Untouchable-

Perfection waiting, out of reach

Will I never touch it?

It always remain


No matter how hard I try

I will never quite reach

It will always remain

Though many people have tried

And seemed to have come close

But perfection’s not the goal

‘Cause we can’t quite grasp it

Perfection will always be

For all eternity

Looks like you are off to a great start!

Of Course, Silly Billy Me

”Well shit, I guess I lost my opportunity” the youngster retort

You see, for him, it’s all about his hurt – but she’s so educated, knows more about the rules of English than the rest of us.

Thus, to me she said… You cannot use curse words in a court report… you need to paraphrase his quote.

Into her spastic face I smiled – and pled my case

If you were my English professor back in the day, I could only imagine how much further in life I would have been…

”Don’t you mean farther in life?”

Of course, silly billy me.

This poem is called Secret Keeper and was inspired by #92. I hope you like it.

Everyone has a secret, Whether it be their own, Or someone else’s, We all have one.

But what if, You met someone, Who had a secret so big, That telling anyone would lead to horrible things.

And what if, That person told someone, And what they told them, Was more horrible than anything they could have ever imagined.

What if, That person told everyone, And when the parents, Of the kid with the secret found out, They were furious.

What if, They kept doing horrible things, Even though everyone knew, Even though they knew it was wrong.

And finally, What if, No one ever helped, The little kid with the biggest secret.

On number 28 : Poision I wrote a poem for it and would like to share it. The poision of friends and love

Beaten,she lies there. For they may be mistaken. Laughter rings throughout the school halls; a pure disaster. The dissapearence of parents hast caused this yet no one stops it. “Your a disgrace!” She heard them say. While in place she cries “I don’t belong here! Perhaps im out of place..” But she is not misplaced rather.. Shes lost in space.

I miss when you called me baby And I was in your arms saftely I know we drive eachother crazy But I miss callin you my baby

Those restless nights when I couldn’t sleep You calmed me down with your technique Always reminded me I’m strong not weak If only I let you speak

My heart only beats for you My feelings for you only grew You understood what I was going through I will never regret knowing you

Your smile melted my heart I wish we could restart And I could be apart Of a man I see as a work of art!

Stary night painting poem I guess ill call it

I raised my paint brush to my canvas So I could help people understand this This feeling of emotion for this painting has spoken I see the light as opportunity As for the whole thing it symbolizes unity The swirls degnify elegance and uncertainty For this painting executes this perfectly Where as my paintings let me adress Everything I feel I need to express!

#56 WHITE NOISE Faded away In the background Unheard Not visible

Eardrums splitting from the screams Yet none seem to care Can even hear my cries for help? For I am screaming as loud as I can

Are you? For all we hear Are whispers in here

Fading away in the background Unheard, invisible Yet it’s there, not loud enough Not noticeable, but there White noise Blank and pure In the background Faded away, yet so clear.

Just need to listen So open your ears She’s screaming for help But it’s muted to your ears

So open ’em up And listen to the calls For faded away, in the background Not visible, but clear. White Noise. It’s there.

Hi guys, I’m kind of late joining in. I read the prompts and the poems posted and this community is a creative bunch. I liked #35 People You Have Known. I want to share it with you guys.

Bern, a friend from grade school was my seat mate as well Rob had always teased me so my young life was hell Neesa was pretty, she knew that she was my crush Miss Homel, our teacher was always in a rush Played ball with Buco and I got hit on my head Fell in love with Cia, dreamt of her in my bed Had a tattoo with Marcus and called it “The Day” Chub challenged me to eat two pies, I said, “No way” I had to go far away so I wrote to Charie In this new place I found a friend in Perry My Grandma Leng passed away, she was a doll My grumpy uncle, Uncle Zar was teased by all These people have touched my life for worse or better Won’t be forgotten, be remembered forever

I hope that you liked it. Thanks guys. Thanks Think Written.

#37 fix it Still new to poems, and I haven’t written one in a while. Criticism is welcome because I need some more inspiration since I haven’t been getting any.

This is the body repair shop where we fix humans that have stopped how may we help you?

the girl stumbled upon the front door and spilled her list of regrets out into the open

“we’re sorry, miss” “but i’m afraid your first kiss will just be a dear old reminisce”

“your heart is also one that cannot be mended” “for every shattered piece- their lives just simply ended” the sewing kit can’t sew the fragments of her heart back because there were way too many to backtrack

she cried her heart out and it went “plop!” her tears like a river and like a lightbulb flickering its last light she too, took her last breath and was put to death

This is the body repair shop where we fix humans that have stopped “it seems we have failed again today” “sorry we’ll just try harder again another day”

I did poetry prompt #7. I wrote about the street I grew up on. Luverne Luverne, I moved onto you at the age of three. We like to race up and down your pavement road, either biking or running. You keep safe the house that I grew up in, one that has six humans and three dogs. You shelter other houses, too, that hold family friends and best friends to last a lifetime.

Luverne, we love you.

-Margaret McMahon

I was inspired by the prompt poison. Monster Roses are beautiful and delicate, but flawed.

Every rose has thorns that cause you to bleed.

Its innocence and beauty draws you in.

Only then when you touch it, it poisons you.

Am I really such an ugly monster, that plants pain an watches it spread?

I would say no.

Wouldn’t we all?

But maybe, just maybe a rose doesn’t notice it’s thorns.

-Lilliana Pridie

You said you’re only just starting?! That was sooo good! No criticism here. 🙂

Sorry, that was meant for “Ash” but yours was amazing too! 🙂

Prompt number 8: Street signs STOP Stop look and listen Stop at the corner Stop at the red light Stop for pedestrians Stop for cyclists Stop for animals Stop doing that Stop drop and roll Stop doing something else Stop shouting Stop whispering Stop talking Stop being quiet Stop posting cute cat videos Stop forgetting your appointments Stop making plans without me Stop eating all the yummies Stop running Stop the insanity Stop shopping Stop the never-ending commentary in my head Stop stopping Stop

Thanks for making this site and all its suggestions and especially this space to post our work, available!

I wrote from prompt #72 about moonlight. Shining down like a spotlight, Illuminating everything around you. The pure white light, Paint your surroundings in a soft glow. The round ball in the sky, speckled with craters like the freckles on your face. Looking down upon the sleeping earth, A nightlight for those still awake, a nightlight for you. Guides you, pulls you, lulls you towards it. It caresses your face with the light, casting away the shadows of the night.

I liked it I just wrote a small poem dedicated to my tutor and tutor just loved it .I used 21 good bye . I liked it really.😊

I just took up writing so bear with me.

Based on #72 “Moonlight”

A full bed Just the left side filled Soft, cold, baby blue sheets wrap around bare feet

She sweetly invites herself in Dressing the dark in a blue hue through cypress filled air, like 5 A.M. drives in January on the misty Northern coast.

Damp hair dances across grey skin, Waltzing with the breeze to Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely”

Euphoria slow dances with Tranquility Heavy eyes give in to sleep

Ladder to the Sky I want to climb the ladder to the sky I’m sure all would be well and that I could fly The ladder would be sturdy but still give me a fright Because looking down I’ll realized I’ve climbed many heights The higher I climb the greater the fall The greater the fall, the greater the sprawl But if i ever get to the sky up high I would be sure to hug you and say “goodbye” Once I’ve climbed the ladder I’ll know Sometimes its okay to look far down below Life is full of failure but soon I’ll find Happiness is a place, and not of the mind We all have ladders to climb and lives to live We all have a little piece of us that we can give Because when we climb that ladder to the sky We should think “No, life never passed me by”

Hi Ray, I love your piece.It gives one courage to face the challenges of live and move on.

Thanks for sharing the prompts Chelle Stein. I wrote this sometimes ago before coming to this site and I believed prompts #1 and #88 inspired my writing it. kindly help me vet it and give your criticism and recommendation. It is titled “SHADOW”.

My shadow your shadow My reflection your reflection My acts your acts

No one sees me,no one sees you Programmed by the Ubiquitous, To act as our bystander in realism

Virtuous iniquitous rises on that day To vindicate to incriminate My deeds your deeds.

Thanks for the seemingly endless amounts of writing prompts. I’ve been working on a poem, but it isn’t much.

She’s got my head spinning, Around and around; She’s all I think about, I can’t help but wondering, Does she feel the same?

Of course not, I’m just a fool; I’m nothing special, Just another person; Bland and dull.

How could a girl like her, love a guy like me? But the way she looks at me, Her smile, I can’t help but to feel flustered; Is this just my imagination?

It must be.

Wow! That’s exactly how I feel! Amazing poem!

Thanks so much, I’m glad you like it. 🙂

A massive thank you to for these amazing prompts. Some of these prompts have now formed the basis of my upcoming poetry collection (Never Marry a Writer) scheduled for release on January 1 2021. I will also be leaving a “Thank you” message for this website in the acknowledgements section. You have inspired a whole poetry collection out of nowhere which is highly commendable. So booktiful that!

That is wonderful news!

So I didn’t use any of the prompts but I wanted some feedback on this; it’s not great but I’m working on improving my writing skills

I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music I wonder if things will ever be normal again I hear light screaming through the darkness I want freedom from the chains trapping me in my fear I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music

I pretend to float in the ocean, letting the waves carry me away from reality I feel a presence of hope like a flame on my bare skin I touch the eye of a storm, grasping the stillness it brings I worry about wars that a spreading like wildfires I cry when I’m not with the people I love I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music

I understand feeling hopeless when you have no control over what is happening I say our differences make us special I dream to be a nurse, to help others when they can’t help themselves I try to do my best in everything I hope that all mankind will stop fighting and live in peace I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music






I wrote a poem based on #101.

Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

And then it was there. What I had been missing. What is it? You may ask. Well, it’s quite simple actually. It’s the joy of music. It’s the joy of sitting down and making music. It’s the joy you feel when you look up at people admiring you. The joy you see in peoples’ eyes. I don’t know why I ever stopped that. The piano sat on the stage. Dusty and untouched. It’d been decades since I’ve seen it. I haven’t come to this stage since I lost her. After the concert. The last time I ever heard her voice. And yet here I am years and years later. Knowing why I haven’t been happy in so long. Of course pain is always gonna be there, But as I played a soft note on the piano, All of it seemed to disappear. It was as if all the weight on my shoulders got lifted. The melodious notes resonated around the hall. And for a few moments, I forgot about all the pain. I forgot about the tears. I forgot about the heartache. And as the last notes echoed around the hall, I was truly happy.

Prompt #92: Coming home with secrets

My mother’s radio sits in the balcony And it greets me with electric static Coming to this sheltering home is somewhat problematic Cause the walls are too thin, and it’s back to reality. Back to the running water that conceals the noise of cracks Crumbling behind my peeling mask, holding my face with wax An unraveled thread masking the makeup smile of a wakeup call That runs down to my chin and I keep under wraps. I take invitations to the mall, yet the space around me seems so small Nevertheless, I show my teeth with a big, shiny grin And suck a trembling breath through their thin slit Happy to wear tight jeans, to stop me from an embarrassing fall. The bath hurts on my skin, but even more to protect screams from the halls My head floats in the water, but feels trapped in its walls It cracks my head open with all these secrets inside me Before a blink of an eye, to my room I’d already flee. Not to the radio playing static or streets that won’t let me be But to under the blankets, where no one can really see The struggle to be a walking, talking, breathing secret That was thrown to the ocean in a bottle, wishing to be free. However, the words untold keep coming like ever so frequent Like adrenalized filled cops in pursue of an escapee delinquent All the more, my doppelganger and I have come to an agreement To take these secrets to our grave, that we nowadays call home.

Recipe for Happiness

Start with friendship, Then add time, A dash of humor, And forgotten binds. Mix it up, Till blended well, And make sure, To remember the smell. Put that bowl, To the side, Grab a new one, Add grateful sighs. Then add family, And a smile, Then sit back, And mix awhile. To that bowl, Add a laugh, A cheerful cry, And blissful past. Whip until, There’s heavy peaks, Then pour in, What we all seek. Combine the two, Then mix it well, Spray the pan, And pour it out. Cherish the memory, The beautiful scent, Of unity, And happiness.

My mother died when I was younger so this poem is about me sitting on the lawn at night shortly after she passed away. I was imagining better times, which is why in my poem I talk about how the girl is imagining ‘walking on the moon’ and she is gripping the grass tight and trying to remember the warmth of her mothers palms.

Sitting in the blue black grass She’s walking on the moon Watching specks of silver dance To the mellow tune Her fingers gripping the grass so tight She can almost feel The warmth of her mothers palms

The winds cold fingers

The winds cold fingers Tousle with my hair Loosening the soil My sobs are carried away on the wind

I would love to share this list (credited to you) with students participating in a virtual library program on poetry. Would that be possible/acceptable? These are great!

Wow! Thank you so much for all these awesome prompts! I’ve written two poems already!

Prompt #1 AND #15, untouchable and less than 25 words. i’m lowk popping off??

Apollo Commands the sun, which squints so brightly, scorches and freckles. i want her hand on mine. searing pain fears, still i reach out, and bubble.

I looked at the word “Duct tape” And thought about it. Its not anywhere in this poem at all but it inspired it yk?

Feathers are Soft

Feathers are soft People aren’t

Plushies are soft People aren’t

Pillows are soft People aren’t

People are mean Not nice Not joyful

well my poem is only loosely based on the second prompt because I found I had too much to say about Sundays. I would love to share it with you but these comments don’t support links.

Inspired by number 55 in list of poetry suggestions. Poem to song guitar chords. —————————————————-

Carnegie Hall

D I was feeling ecstatic G when I went to the attic A and found my auld busking D guitar

D But I felt consternation G I disturbed hibernation A at first it seemed quite D bazaar

D When I blew off the dust G it smelt like old must A but t’was time to give it a D bar

D It was then I heard flapping G which sounded like clapping A my first ever round of D applause

D It stayed with the beat G while tapping my feet A I kept playing despite all my D flaws

D I took early retirement G though not a requirement A “Bad Buskers” all get D menopause

D I’m strumming the strings G and the echo it rings A but no jingling of coins as they D fall

D So I play here alone G as to what I was prone A never made it to Carnegie D Hall

D Time to call it a day G as they used to say A for no encores or no curtain D call

D There’s a butterfly G in my guitar

D There’s a butterfly G in my guitar.

Finn Mac Eoin

23rd July 2022

I love this Finn, where can we listen to your song?

Hello I wrote this in remberence of 9/11. Its now sitting in ground zero. A ordinary day to start  Same as any other Dad goes off to work again, Child goes with their mother. Vibrant busy city,  busses, cars galore Workers in the offices, from bottom to top floor. Throughout our life situations Hard times often do arise, Unfortunatly we never think of saying last goodbyes. That’s exactly what happened on September 11th 2001 A day that turned the world so cold When tragedy begun. Twin towers has exploded Co ordinate attacks, Al-Qaeda behind the planes That seemed to be hijacked. Thousands were killed instantly Some lives hang by a thread, Calls were made to loved ones Onlookers face of dread. Fears & screams while running As smoke fills up the air, News reports on live tv Helplessly they stare. On the news we hear the voices of all who are caught inside, Lying next to injured ones Or sadly ones who died. One man makes a phone call My darling wife it’s me, I’m sorry that I upset you And that we disagreed. My offices have been attacked they’re crumbling to the ground, A massive explosion hit our floor then instantly no sound. If I do not make it I’m stating from the heart, I love you darling, & in your life I’m glad to play a part. Tell the kids daddy loves them Continue well at school, Stand up for all your beliefs Don’t be taken for a fool. The wife is crying down the line Darling please don’t go, I love you darling so so much I’ve always told you so. He replied my darling im feeling really kind of weak, Breathlessly he’s coughing, he can hardly speak. If you ever need me just look up to the stars, I will hear your voices And heal up any scars. Suddenly all was quiet The wife screams down the fone, Darling can you hear me, don’t leave me here alone. The towers live on tv start to crumble to the ground, Clouds of smoke then fill the air The world in shock no sound. Crying at the images of all who has lost their lives , Mums,dad’s , Nan’s & grandads, husbands & wives. Rescue teams included and all those left behind To All who were among them,  all who did survive, All who were injured All who sadly died. Never in this lifetime that day will be the same For ground zero holds the memories Of every single name.

Those hero’s on that awful day who never thought about their life Who fought to save the innocent To keep each sole alive Those who were pulled to safety Those we lost in vein, Never be forgotten The pain will still remain We will never forget that tragedy For the days will never be the same. But may I say with all my heart In God we put our faith United we stand For eternity were safe Amen

This is a beautifully sad poem. You really wrote your way into my heart. <3

I wrote a poem inspired by number 72. Not really sticking to what it said but thought this was kinda close to what it said…

After dusk, the almost eternal night. The dark, winter sky, full of millions of tiny stars. The sky, a color of blue that seems darker than black.

Sunset, full of an array of colors. Purple, orange, pink, and yellow. Nearly all dark blue.

Right as dawn appears, practically the same sunset hours later. Light wispy clouds fill the sky. Orange, pink, and light blue diffuse in the sky as the sun awakens

Wrote one based off the recipe one (I don’t remember which number)

From the Kitchen of: any teenager ever For: Disaster Ingredients: Social anxiety Existential dread A crush Zero sense of self worth A single class together And no social cues

Steps: (Warning: Do NOT do this if your crush is not single) You’re going to try to talk to your crush. Just say hi. If that doesn’t work, don’t go forward with the rest of these steps. Once you’ve talked to your crush, overthink every single thing you said to them. Do it. Then you’re going to decide you’re stupid for overthinking it. Next, you’re going to wait until they begin speaking to you on their own accord. If they don’t, overthink some more. One day you will think your crush is waving to you in the hallway. They won’t be. They’ll be waving to their friends behind you. Play it cool and pretend you’re doing the exact same thing. Run into the bathroom and cringe at yourself. Keep talking to them and try to partner up with them for a project. If they say no, don’t continue further; you’ll only embarrass yourself. If they say yes, say you need their number for the project. Call them “about the project” and eventually segway into other topics. Continue doing this until you guys eventually call all the time for no reason. Ask them out. If they say no, do not, I repeat, do not act like it was a dare or a joke. It ruins everything. Say “oh okay. Well, can we still be friends?” and continue from that point. If they say yes, go on a date with them outside of school before asking them to be your partner. Eventually break up and either get your heartbroken or break someone else’s heart.

And that is how you make an average teenage disaster. Enjoy!

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Just Publishing Advice For Writers and Authors

Free self-publishing advice, how to guides and tips

The Best Free Sites Where You Can Publish Poetry Online

Publish Poetry Online

Publishing your poetry online is a great way to reach a wider audience and share your creative expression.

You can find many sites that offer free platforms for poets to showcase their work and connect with other writers and readers.

Whether you want feedback, exposure, or recognition, you can find a site that suits your needs and goals. It is much easier than looking for a traditional poetry publisher and going through a lengthy submission process.

You can submit your work and have your poem published very quickly with the following poetry websites. Most of them make registering easy, so you can quickly submit your poems. Some also have contests, challenges, communities, and other features that can help you improve your craft and discover new opportunities.

10 Free poetry submission sites

If you love writing poetry, perhaps you are trying to find readers on social media.

It can help, but Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are not ideal platforms for poetry.

You might get better results by publishing where there are more passionate poetry readers.

If you are wondering where to publish poetry, look at the following sites to post and publish poetry online.

Many platforms have commenting systems, so you can get feedback and engage more with your readers.

Some even offer the possibility to publish short stories as well.

Make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully.

Some allow simultaneous submissions, while some allow only one submission at a time.

But after that, you will be ready to publish your poems online.

So, let’s have a look at the choices you have to share your poems with a wider audience.

1. All Poetry

All Poetry

All Poetry has been around since 1999 and is a favorite of many poets.

It claims to be the largest poetry writing group on the Internet and caters to poets from beginners to experts.

It also gives you a handy 10-step guide on how to write better poetry.

2. My Poetic Side

publish poetry online with My Poetic Side

If you want to publish your poems online and make new friends, My Poetic Side is well worth trying.

It’s a little like a social network for poets.

You will see that a lot of poems are posted every day, so the site is very active.

In fact, according to Statshow, the site attracts nearly 90,000 users each month.

So yes, it is popular.

It also has a great blog with lots of informative posts about poets and poetry.

One little extra benefit is that you can create a free ebook.

3. Hello Poetry

Hello Poetry

Another popular site is Hello Poetry .

It is advertising-supported, but this helps make it free for you to publish your poetry.

One nice feature of the site is that you can search for poems by emotion.

4. Poem Hunter

Poem Hunter

The site design of Poem Hunter is hardly poetic, but it works very well.

But it must be popular, judging by the number of new poems published each day.

5. Post Poems

Post Poems

This is another site that is a little light on aesthetics, but you can publish poetry online here for free.

However, when I checked Post Poems , there were 60 users online.

For a poetry site, that’s not bad at all.

6. Commaful

publish poetry online with Commaful

With a clean Instagram-style layout and easy navigation, Commaful is an enjoyable site to visit.

You need to add an image for each poem you submit.

You might want to look at opening a free account with Canva to help you create unique eye-catching images .

7. Writers Cafe

Writers Cafe

You can post poetry, short stories, novels, scripts, and screenplays on Writers Cafe .

It is one of the most well-established sites for writers, so it is probably an excellent choice to consider.


It is one of the most popular sites on the Internet. So, it makes it a logical choice to publish your poetry online.

There is a special section of Wattpad that is dedicated to poetry.

Wattpad has a younger readership than many other sites, so it will depend on the type of audience you are targeting.

Inkitt Logo

If you want an alternative to Wattpad, you might want to investigate Inkitt .

It’s similar in many ways because it allows you to find new readers and gain feedback on your writing.

Inkitt has about seven million active users engaged on the site, so you have a very good chance of finding readers.

The site also has regular writing contests you can enter.

You can still use other publishing platforms, so there are no restrictions.

The only difference with this site is that you will probably need to publish a collection of your poems.


It’s the go-to platform for so many writers now to publish articles .

But Medium is also becoming a popular publishing tool for poets.

So much so that there is now a special tag for Poetry on Medium .

Like many popular sites, you will need to add an eye-catching image to your poem.

Self-publish your poetry

Apart from using poetry sites to post your poems, you also have many free self-publishing options for your poetry.

If you want to publish an ebook on Amazon, it really is the best option for free poetry publishing.

However, if you want to self-publish a print book with Amazon, there is a small charge for delivering your proof copies.

It’s not expensive, but you should check the price depending on where you live.

The only trick with self-publishing poetry ebooks is to get your formatting right.

You can read our short tutorial to help you format poetry for Kindle and Draft2Digital .

While poetry is not as popular as fiction, there are still a lot of readers out there.

If poetry is your passion, there’s nothing to stop you from getting your poems published online for readers to find.

It only takes a few minutes to register with the sites in the list above, and then you can publish poetry online.

As far as I could see when I checked these sites, you don’t need to post your poems exclusively.

You should be free to publish as many poems as you like on the sites I have listed in this article.

But if you only want to use a couple of sites, I think My Poetic Side and Commaful look the most promising.

Related reading: Free Online Writing Tools For New Writers And Students

  • ← Learn How To Print An Ebook Or A Few Pages The Easy Way
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Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology. More about Derek

Avatar for Derek Haines

22 thoughts on “ The Best Free Sites Where You Can Publish Poetry Online ”

Avatar for Daphne Prosper Paul

I am Daphne. I am 9 years old. I wrote one poem. How do I publish ? This is my first time.

Avatar for Derek Haines

You may be able to publish your poem on some of the sites in the article, Daphne. But you might need your parents to help you because you might need to register a user profile.

Avatar for Family Friend Poems

Family Friend Poems is another website to publish your poems online. >>Unlike many other online poetry platforms, our editors personally review and select the poems we publish, ensuring that only the best work is featured on our site. As a result, our library of published poems is small but high-quality, with popular poems featured for years.

Avatar for Shammilah Omar

I am a new and unpopular poet and want to publish my work.

Avatar for myles

none of these sites are working at this time.

As far as I can see, all these sites are working fine.

It might be a problem with your device or Internet connection.

Avatar for MZ

One thing, if you’re thinking of joining Commaful, don’t expect it to be much of a serious poetry site. I mean, some of the kids on there write poems, but it’s mainly really young kids(middle/ high schoolers), and a lot of them talking about their daily routines, and speaking in language that only the new generation would understand, and a great deal of LBGQTSMX(whatever it is) stuff. Not for adults.

Avatar for Lily

Hi im in 7th grade and I would love to publish my 3 poems they are really good how do I publish them?

Avatar for Jillian S

Thank you, this was very helpful!

Avatar for Tami Woods

My name is Tami Woods. I have a few poems I would love to get published. I’m hoping some of my poems may inspire someone else

Avatar for Poonam

I am not a scholar but a truely ambitious writer who loves fiction and poetrys …..just searching for a right platform

Avatar for Michael hamel

I wanna submit my poem so what must i do

Avatar for Justice Sitaba

My poem is about grieving the loss of my beloveth brother.

Avatar for Gayle Ouattara

Want to submit a poem

Avatar for Mary Grace Tiongson

I am new poet and article writer want to publish some stuff

Avatar for name mcrealname

winter chilly, freezing sledding, playing, sipping hot cocoa, snowball, ice cream, beach swimming, eating, splashing warm, sunny summer was that good?…

Avatar for Anne Smith

Writing poetry sets you free to explore your passions and share them with others.

Avatar for danna butler

I eat think and live poetry it dances in my head like a song

Avatar for Rebecca M Swanigan

My name is Rebecca Swanigan. I have loved writing since I can remember. I love poetry because it has been my saving Grace and my way of expressing how I feel. I want to publish some and get myself out there. Would love to get published with my poetry

Avatar for Suzanne

Thank you for providing this valuable information.

Avatar for Jessica Sibanda

my name is Jessica and I absolutely love poetry I live for it and believe that poetry is the way we can express ourselves freely.

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Poem generators.

Select one of the 30 poem types below, and our AI system will generate a poem on your topic for you. Choose free verse, haiku, limerick, acrostic, and much more.

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This poetry generator tool will write a concrete poem/shape poem about any topic you want. In order to create your concrete poem, you will select a shape and enter a subject and some keywords.

Manual Concrete Poem Generator

This poetry generator tool lets you enter a poem, and it formats the poem as a concrete poem/shape poem in your selected shape.

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This poetry generator tool will write a limerick about any topic you want. In order to create your limerick, you will need to fill in the fields.

Acrostic Poem Generator

This poetry generator tool will help you write an acrostic poem. In order to create the poem, you will enter a subject word or phrase. The generator will find words that are associated with that word/phrase. Note: if you are writing a poem about a person, use the Name Poem Generator below.

Poems about Feelings

Sad poem generator.

This poetry generator tool will write a sad freeform poem for you. In order to create the poem, you will enter a topic phrase. The phrase will be used in the title or body of the poem.

Dark Poem Generator

This poetry generator tool will write a dark poem for you. In order to create the poem, enter a topic phrase. The phrase will be used in the title or body of the poem.

Love Poem Generator

This poetry generator tool will write a love poem for you. In order to create the poem, you will enter the name of your love interest.

Heartbreak Poem Generator

This poetry generator tool will write a poem about a broken heart, unrequited love, or a breakup for you. In order to create the poem, you will enter the name of your love interest.

Haiku Generator

This poetry generator tool will write a Haiku about any topic you want. In order to create your Haiku, you will need to enter two singular nouns.

Haiku With My Own Words Generator

This poetry generator tool will ask for 8 words and try to write a poem using those words. If it can't, it will add auto generated related words.

AI Haiku Idea Generator

This poetry generator tool will write lines of a haiku for you using AI transformer models. Just enter a word and it will generate a list of haiku stanzas.

Poems about Events

Thanksgiving poem generator (i'm thankful for...).

This tool will generate an "I'm thankful for..." Thanksgiving poem.

Mother's Day Poem Generator

This tool will generate a Mother's Day poem for your mom, or a close family member.

Father's Day Poem Generator

This tool will generate a Father's Day poem for your dad, or for someone who is like a dad to you.

Christmas Poem Generator

This tool will generate a Christmas poem.

New Year's Eve Toast Generator

This tool will generate a New Year's Eve toast poem.

Valentine's Day Poetry Generators

Valentine's day poem generator.

This tool will generate a love poem for Valentines' Day. Just enter the name of your love interest, and this tool will generate a beautiful love poem for you.

Kids' Valentine's Day Poem Generator

This tool will generate a kids' poem for Valentines' Day. Just enter the name of your love interest, and this tool will generate a sweet and fun poem about your crush.

Do It Yourself

Determine if text content was written by AI or by a human.

How to Write a Poem

This tutorial will teach you how to write a poem yourself.

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Susan McQuillan

How Poetry Can Change Your Life

Poetry's creative force can help clarify and unload the issues that plague you..

Posted November 19, 2023 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

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  • Relatable poetry is recognized by health professionals as a valuable healing tool.
  • Poetry can help those with mental health issues find words to express their emotions and experiences.
  • Poets themselves often provide a form of counseling by opening up and unloading the minds of their readers.


In early 2023, the editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) decided not only to include poems in their highly respected professional publication, but also to publish commentaries that examine each poem’s theme, context, and relationship to physical or mental health. The decision was based on the results of several studies showing that, in addition to enjoyment and entertainment, both patients and their healthcare providers can find comfort and meaning in poetry.

Multiple research projects have confirmed that reading and writing poetry have the potential to help people express their feelings, emotions, and creativity and also feel a sense of empowerment, recognition, and renewal. Poetry can help patients and their caregivers find meaning in their existence and in the illnesses and losses they’ve experienced throughout their lives.

While poetry belongs to the humanities, and often focuses on the subjects of love and nature, there is also a strong, historic connection to science and medicine. In fact, several well-known poets have also been practicing medical doctors, most notably John Keats and William Carlos Williams, transforming the pain they witnessed and experienced into written forms of beauty. Likewise, more than a few writers of novels and other prose have turned to poetry to express themselves when they fell ill, including John Updike and Clive James. This history of patient-poets and care-provider-poets led to the creation of the popular, annual Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, with cash awards for writers of previously unpublished poetry with a medical theme.

In one study designed to promote an empathetic attitude and approach to mental health care, more than 90 psychiatric nursing students were asked to write simple poetry that represented their feelings about mental health and mental health services. Their writings most frequently reflected feelings of sadness, fear , love, suffering, anguish, and hatred. Some of the words used to describe such feelings included emptiness, loneliness , crying, and helplessness. The students’ work often reflected an association between mental health and suicidal ideation. At the same time, the researchers found recurring themes of peace, respect, empathy, pride, affection, and love in the students’ poetry.

Such an assessment of student work helps medical educators understand how to improve students’ overall perception of mental illness, convey the deep emotional needs of mentally ill patients, enhance student empathy, and support students’ personal and professional growth by suggesting patient interventions that can address not only clinical concerns but also their patient’s deep-seated feelings and emotions.

Alma Maria Rolfs, a mental health counselor and poetry therapist in Seattle, uses the power of poetry to help clients heal from difficult life events and painful emotions while, at the same time, helping them use their imaginations to rediscover their sense of wonder, beauty, and vitality, and, often, emerge as a newly competent and eloquent self. Using the relatable words of others, she uses poetry to nourish and hold hope for clients until they can’t find and sustain it for themselves.

“The one recurring experience that fills me with a mixture of humility and satisfaction has been watching my clients’ positive reactions to their own written words, their pride and pleasure, in response to poetry,” she reflects. “So often clients see themselves as inadequate when it comes to language and when we can help them find the words they need, it not only promotes insight but builds much-needed communication skills for all aspects of their lives.”

As a form of artistic expression and emotional disclosure, poetry encourages introspection, helps build self- identity , promotes self-awareness, and lightens negative emotions. Poetry therapist Geraldine (Geri) Giebel Chavis, former president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy , has long used reading and writing poetry and other forms of literature to help clients express and identify their feelings and actively participate in creative problem-solving of their issues. In her book, Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Creative Expression , Chavis writes 'poetry therapists recognize that an untold number of poets are unwittingly acting as counselors for people they will never meet or see.”

One of these “poet-counselors” is Diego Perez, otherwise known as bestselling author Yung Pueblo. Perez’s family emigrated from Ecuador to the United States when he was a child and quickly found themselves caught in a trap of poverty. In his interviews and writings, he has publicly shared how the anxiety , fear, and continuous struggle his parents endured instilled some of the same in him, and brought him to a breaking point where he began mediating his pain with alcohol and drugs.

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Ultimately, Perez found his way to meditation , which he credits for alleviating the density of his mind and opening up his creativity, which ultimately led to his healing and professional writing success. His messages are simple and include this: Unloading the weight from your mind through some form of therapy, including meditation, can release your creativity and help you learn to feel your emotions without feeding them. In his latest book, The Way Forward , Perez shares a collection of poems and musings that encourage readers to carve their own authentic path in life by relying on their self-knowledge and intuition to stay focused and grounded in an ever-changing world.

Susan McQuillan

Susan McQuillan is a food, health, and lifestyle writer.

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8 modern poets who have a unique way with words

photo of a book of poetry

Good poetry can stir deep emotions, generate epiphanies, and create a sense of comradery between readers and artists. If you grew up feeling that poetry was boring or inaccessible, it’s worth giving this creative form of expression a second look.

What is modern poetry?

Modern or modernist poetry generally refers to the verse writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. However, some scholars argue that American poet Walt Whitman is one of the genre’s founders with his eponymous Leaves of Grass, published in 1855. By choosing to eschew the use of traditional rhyme and meter in favor of free verse, Whitman became a major influence on the modernist and post-modern poets who came after him. Today, modern poetry is known for its emphasis on strong imagery, free form, simple and direct expression, realism, inconsistent meter, and at times dark, controversial, or open-ended themes.

The talented group of modern poets featured below are innovative and inspiring and demonstrate a thoughtful understanding of the human condition that deserves to be heard and appreciated.

1. Amanda Gorman

“We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

(Gorman, “ The Hill We Climb ”)

Poetry artist Amanda Gorman is probably best known for her enthralling reading of “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s 2021 inauguration. Just 22 at the time, she is the youngest poet to be given this honor. Four years prior, she was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Gorman’s work weaves in major themes, including feminism, race, marginalization, politics, and oppression. Her powerful style of spoken-word poetry emphasizes rhythm and rhyme, imbuing it with an almost musical quality.

2. Richard Blanco

“One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work: some days guessing at the weather who knew how to give, or forgiving a father who couldn’t give what you wanted.”

(Blanco, “ One Today ”)

Richard Blanco is a man of many “firsts”: the first Latino, first immigrant, and first openly gay person to become an inaugural poet when he read at President Obama’s second swearing-in. His modern poetry contains free verse rich with strong metaphors and delves into the complex hopes, dreams, and struggles of the universal (and his own personal) human experience. Blanco is not afraid to explore controversial topics, and his work touches on everything from immigration and mass shootings to cultural and sexual orientation.

3. Rupi Kaur

“ you tell me to quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful but i was not made with a fire in my belly so i could be put out…”         

(Kaur, “ My Mother’s Soul ”)

Rupi Kaur’s story is distinctly contemporary. She made a name for herself in the poetry world by sharing her short visual poetry on social media before becoming a #1 New York Times bestselling author. Her self-illustrated collections have now sold over 11 million copies and have been translated into over 43 languages. Kaur immigrated to Canada as a child, and her poetry includes only lowercase letters and periods in a nod to her Punjabi Sikh heritage and the Gurmukhi script of her mother’s native tongue. Her succinct poems focus heavily on love, loss, trauma, femininity, and migration.

4. Gregory Pardlo

“I was born waist-deep stubborn in the water crying                               ain’t I a woman and a brother I was born to this hall of mirrors, this horror story I was born with a prologue of references, pursued by mosquitoes and thieves…I was born.”        

(Pardlo, “ Written by Himself ”)

The 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner for Digest , Gregory Pardlo is a memoirist and writing professor known for his distinctive voice that has been described as both “urban and highbrow.” Although he speaks to universal themes in his poetry, he also explores themes of Blackness, masculinity, family, and class in American culture. Pardlo’s poetic style can be described as melodic, which is understandable given that he grew up among the improvisational musicians who played at his family’s jazz club.

5. Ada Limón

“Suppose it’s easy to slip               into another’s green skin, bury yourself in leaves and wait for a breaking... I have, before, been tricked into believing              I could be both an I and the world.”

(Limón, “ Sanctuary ”)

The 24th US Poet Laureate, Ada Limón is also the first Latina to be awarded this title. Author of six poetry collections, her outstanding writing abilities have won numerous awards, and her work has been featured in The New Yorker , Harvard Review , and Barrow Street . In her poem, Limón uses recurring places—including the California of her childhood, New York, and rural horse country—and themes that focus on nature and our relationship with it, parental relationships, chronic illness, and identity.

6. Ocean Vuong

“You, drowning between my arms — stay. You, pushing your body into the river    only to be left with yourself —      stay.”                                    

(Vuong, “ On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous ”)

Award-winning author and poet Ocean Vuong has received widespread acclaim for his deeply intimate work that explores the meaning of family, grief, and loss. His bold modernist poetry is constructed with multiple line breaks, stutters, and spaces experimenting with the relationship between the content and form. Born in Ho Chi Minh City but raised in Connecticut, Vuong’s poetry and novel explore overcoming his mother’s death and the effects of being a product of the Vietnam War while living in America.

7. Sherman Alexie

“Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids? Was it a violent act? Did you despise your braids? Did you cut your hair after booze murdered your father? When he was buried, did you baptize him with your braids?”

(Alexie, “ Good Hair ”)

Sherman Alexie is a celebrated contemporary Native American poet, novelist, and filmmaker. A member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, and his work explores themes of poverty, addiction, despair, and violence in the lives of Native American people. Although this subject matter may evoke feelings of sadness, his use of irony, dark wit, and impeccable timing serve to lighten the otherwise dire realities of reservation life.

8. Sharon Olds

“I have never thought I could take it, not even for the children. It is all I have wanted to do, to stand between them and pain. But I come from a long line of women who put themselves first…”                         

(Olds, The “ Fear of Oneself ”)

Sharon Olds is a renowned modern poetry artist whose first collection, Satan Says, was published in 1980 when she was 37. Since then, she’s received the Pulitzer Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize and authored 12 books of poetry, including Stag’s Leap , which explores her divorce. Her poetry is autobiographical, emotionally raw, and ripe with sexual candor. In her commanding work, Olds covers topics including family life, trauma, love, abortion, betrayal, gender, age, and sexual politics.

Tap into your creativity at Penn LPS Online

Whether you’re an aspiring poet or author, Penn LPS Online offers two flexible programs to help you enhance your creative writing skills. In the Creative Studies degree concentration for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree, you’ll have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the creative process and nurture your own creative expression. As you expand your ability to critically analyze and evaluate meaning across literary genres and styles, you’ll also create and edit original works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays.

The 4-course Certificate in Creative Writing at Penn LPS Online offers an innovative and collaborative workshop environment wherein you can explore new ideas, learn new writing strategies, and unlock your creativity. As you create and rework your writing with feedback from peers and instructors who are professionals in the field, you’ll gain valuable insights into ways to hone your writing practice and enhance your skills of expression.

Ready to take your writing to the next level? If you haven’t already, apply to Penn LPS Online today and enroll in the Creative Studies concentration for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences or register for the Certificate in Creative Writing . You can also view our course guide to see what’s available in any upcoming term.

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Book Reviews

3 new poetry collections taking the pulse of the times.

Craig Morgan Teicher

3 poetry books for fall

Poetry takes the pulse of the times.

These times are dark: wars raging; a pandemic that, though it has ebbed, still has everyone confused and afraid; monstrous, hate-filled social media posts spreading like wildfire.

Poets have been writing about all of this in real time, posting and publishing their poems, and now they're gathering them up into books. Here are three of the first poetry collections to register the still-unfolding social and physical fallout of the pandemic and Trump-era politics.

English as a Second Language by Jaswinder Bolina

With his third collection, Jaswinder Bolina hits his stride, melding fierce and heartbroken politics with a flair for the surreal to portray America in the throes of the pandemic — and tarnished daily by bold expressions of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the years following Trump's rise to power. It's a country where one is accosted constantly by urgent, out-of-context messages in waiting rooms; "in hotel bars that used to be/ so well-regarded when white people wore their finest//laundry and ate snails there"; and splattered on consumer products: "IF YOU'RE NOT ANGRY YOU'RE NOT PAYING/ ATTENTION, hollered a passing tote bag."

These poems are tightly packed, a whimsical fabric interwoven with snippets of soundbites and telling phrases gathered by a highly alert ear. I don't mean at all that this is found poetry, but that Bolina's poems are precisely attuned to the stupidness, bigotry, and willful ignorance encoded into American English. There's always this "second language" beneath the one we hear — it's what people aren't saying, or aren't quite saying but, of course, they're actually saying it.

Bolina's ironic humor feels like the inevitable vehicle for this insight, and these poems are often darkly laugh-out-loud funny. The book is set up to be read either from the front or the back, complete with a reversed table of contents at the end. Read from the front, it's a book about American racism and immigrant experience. From the back, there's a baby in the picture, and a pandemic happening: "I go on debating with myself whether it'd be better/ to die of the plague or to die of anything other than/ the plague during a plague."

The cynicism of these poems can sometimes feel like too much. Of course, it's not really cynicism, it's reportage. Even "the Abominable News," as Bolina calls it, is ascribed a sinister kind of sentience: "the Bad News hotwires the buzzer,/ invites itself up with its bouquet of wild/ aneurysms and drooping embolisms." Bolina's take on parenthood is equally startling and politicized, an occasion for social commentary. "Poor little guy, alighted/ into what he doesn't know is America."

The Kingdom of Surfaces by Sally Wen Mao

In the meditative and sometimes essayistic poems and sequences of The Kingdom of Surfaces , Sally Wen Mao visits real and imagined art galleries and other sites of cultural production and display, raging against stereotyped and reductive representations of Chinese women in the arenas of fine art, pop culture, and politics. She visits Wuhan, China, and describes its people with a kind of compassion that has been utterly lacking. The elegant surfaces of these poems belie their internal fury: "It's a shame/ how people die like their animals."

In a series of concrete poems shaped like vases, Mao excavates the underbelly of the long history of, and fetishization for, porcelain. Elsewhere she recounts the tyranny of Karens ("A white woman feigns distress,/ calls the cops/ On a black man, a bird-/ watcher"); exposes the dark facts of how silk is made and traded; and, most urgently, revisits her childhood memories of the City of Wuhan ("my birthplace"), and recalls the tides of racism directed at Chinese people during the pandemic years: "security camera footage showed a sixty-five-year-old woman shoved, punched, and kicking in front of 360 West 43rd Street." A poem about a long-ago sexual assault joins a lamenting chorus that grieves millennia of pillaging: "my feelings were leaves/ that bypassed everyone and buried me."

Mao's sentences here are more straightforward than in her two previous books, which I loved for their careful eye and quiet roiling. In The Kingdom of Surfaces , the anger bubbles over, is evident everywhere, and yet these poems have a kind of conversational intimacy that is new to Mao, as if recent events have led her to drop some of the pretense and protection of style. She distills all the ugliness of these years, and the many years before, down to its grim essence: " But beauty is political. But beauty is political. But beauty is political ."

Pig by Sam Sax

For Jews, pork is terefah, forbidden food — and, in this book, with a surprisingly light touch, Sam Sax makes of the pig a powerful, all purpose symbol. It becomes an injunction to search oneself, in rather informal and conversational terms, for hedging pathways forward: "do your work with care, as i have tried & failed here."

Though every poem involves a pig somehow (as food, as a slur, as a colloquialism for a police officer, as an Animal Farm fascist, as a quizzical farm animal, as Wilbur, the pig saved by language), this one-species menagerie doesn't feel like a conceit. Sometimes the pig is the poem's stated subject, but more often it waddles in from the side, a verbal tick, a reminder that a shared set of concerns is pulling on these poems. Each poem needs its pig, and each pig is different so each poem is different. In a way, Sax could write this book about anything and he even says as much: "what would i learn if i were to write/ this book on an entirely different subject:/ antique clock repair, the sex lives of astronomers, joy."

One might think Sax's chattiness would somehow diminish the poems' gravity, but Sax again and again says profound things very informally. I feel like I am conversing with a very articulate and clever friend who understands that there are some serious things best said with humor. And he's got a way with a sentence, offhandedly delivered, tonally precise, able to say what it's not saying. Sax deploys a kind of serious sarcasm that isn't irony — it's a tonal admission that things are too messed up to meet head on, but they also aren't funny, and can't be ignored: "Everything that happens on earth happens everywhere."

Language is the salve for, or the weapon against, a disordered world: "the phrases either make love or/ set down a border," Sax writes in "It's a Little Anxious to Be a Very Small Animal," a poem that rather remarkably weaves together Passover traditions, the biography of Karl Marx, genetics, fundraising, and the myth of Daphne to speak out of the uncertainty that so many feel in American for so many different reasons.

As a fellow Jew, this book hits hard at this particular moment, though it was of course written well before the current war between Israel and Hamas began. Sax registers the fact that, over the last several years, America has come to feel less safe for Jews, that language, which he sees as the true Jewish homeland, has become less hospitable:

inside the skin but just exists in language. let me explain. my people kiss books as a form of prayer. if dropped we lift them to our lips & mouth an honest & uncomplicated apology— nowhere on earth belongs to us .

The stakes are high — this book is about nothing less than survival, and why to survive, what's worth living for when so much is so obviously so wrong: "what will be left after we've left// I dare not consider it// instead dance with me a moment/ late in this late extinction// that you are reading this// must be enough."

Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of several books, including The Trembling Answers , which won the 2018 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the essay collection We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress .

Will AI Render Programming Obsolete?

poetry writing help

In 2017, Google researchers introduced a novel machine-learning program called a “ transformer ” for processing language. While they were mostly interested in improving machine translation — the name comes from the goal of transforming one language into another — it didn’t take long for the AI community to realize that the transformer had tremendous, far-reaching potential.

Trained on vast collections of documents to predict what comes next based on preceding context, it developed an uncanny knack for the rhythm of the written word. You could start a thought, and like a friend who knows you exceptionally well, the transformer could complete your sentences. If your sequence began with a question, then the transformer would spit out an answer. Even more surprisingly, if you began describing a program, it would pick up where you left off and output that program.

poetry writing help

It’s long been recognized that programming is difficult, however, with its arcane notation and unforgiving attitude toward mistakes. It’s well documented that novice programmers can struggle to correctly specify even a simple task like computing a numerical average, failing more than half the time. Even professional programmers have written buggy code that has resulted in crashing spacecraft , cars , and even the internet itself .

So when it was discovered that transformer-based systems like ChatGPT could turn casual human-readable descriptions into working code, there was much reason for excitement. It’s exhilarating to think that, with the help of generative AI, anyone who can write can also write programs. Andrej Karpathy, one of the architects of the current wave of AI, declared , “The hottest new programming language is English.” With amazing advances announced seemingly daily, you’d be forgiven for believing that the era of learning to program is behind us. But while recent developments have fundamentally changed how novices and experts might code, the democratization of programming has made learning to code more important than ever because it’s empowered a much broader set of people to harness its benefits. Generative AI makes things easier, but it doesn’t make it easy.

There are three main reasons I’m skeptical of the idea that people without coding experience could trivially use a transformer to code. First is the problem of hallucination. Transformers are notorious for spitting out reasonable-sounding gibberish , especially when they aren’t really sure what’s coming next. After all, they are trained to make educated guesses, not to admit when they are wrong. Think of what that means in the context of programming.

Say you want to produce a program that computes averages. You explain in words what you want and a transformer writes a program. Outstanding! But is the program correct? Or has the transformer hallucinated in a bug? The transformer can show you the program, but if you don’t already know how to program, that probably won’t help. I’ve run this experiment myself and I’ve seen GPT (OpenAI’s “generative pre-trained transformer”, an offshoot of the Google team’s idea) produce some surprising mistakes, like using the wrong formula for the average or rounding all the numbers to whole numbers before averaging them. These are small errors, and are easily fixed, but they require you to be able to read the program the transformer produces.

It’s actually quite hard to write verbal descriptions of tasks, even for people to follow.

It might be possible to work around this challenge, partly by making transformers less prone to errors and partly by providing more testing and feedback so it’s clearer what the programs they output actually do. But there’s a deeper and more challenging second problem. It’s actually quite hard to write verbal descriptions of tasks, even for people to follow. This concept should be obvious to anyone who has tried to follow instructions for assembling a piece of furniture. People make fun of IKEA’s instructions, but they might not remember what the state of the art was before IKEA came on the scene. It was bad. I bought a lot of dinosaur model kits as a kid in the 70s and it was a coin flip as to whether I’d succeed in assembling any given Diplodocus.

Some collaborators and I are looking into this problem. In a pilot study, we recruited pairs of people off the internet and split them up into “senders” and “receivers.” We explained a version of the averaging problem to the senders. We tested them to confirm that they understood our description. They did. We then asked them to explain the task to the receivers in their own words. They did. We then tested the receivers to see if they understood. Once again, it was roughly a coin flip whether the receivers could do the task. English may be a hot programming language, but it’s almost as error-prone as the cold ones!

Finally, viewing programming broadly as the act of making a computer carry out the behaviors that you want it to carry out suggests that, at the end of the day, you can’t replace the individuals deciding what those behaviors ought to be. That is, generative AI could help express your desired behaviors more directly in a form that typical computers can carry out. But it can’t pick the goal for you. And the broader the array of people who can decide on goals, the better and more representative computing will become.

In the era of generative AI, everyone has the ability to engage in programming-like activities, telling computers what to do on their behalf. But conveying your desires accurately — to people, traditional programming languages, or even new-fangled transformers — requires training, effort, and practice. Generative AI is helping to meet people partway by greatly expanding the ability of computers to understand us. But it’s still on us to learn how to be understood.

Michael L. Littman is University Professor of Computer Science at Brown University and holds an adjunct position with the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing. He was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a Leadership Fellow for Public Engagement with Science in Artificial Intelligence. He is the author of “ Code to Joy .”



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  1. How to Write a Poem: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Although there aren't any hard and fast rules for writing poetry, there are some fundamental guidelines to keep in mind: Show, don't tell. The goal is to provoke an emotion in the reader. Less can be more. While it's perfectly acceptable to write long, flowery verse, using simple, concise language is also powerful.

  2. How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step

    How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step Sean Glatch | December 6, 2022 | 26 Comments To learn how to write a poem step-by-step, let's start where all poets start: the basics. This article is an in-depth introduction to how to write a poem. We first answer the question, "What is poetry?"

  3. How to Write Poetry: 11 Rules for Poetry Writing Beginners

    1. Read a lot of poetry. If you want to write poetry, start by reading poetry. You can do this in a casual way by letting the words of your favorite poems wash over you without necessarily digging for deeper meaning. Or you can delve into analysis. Dissect an allegory in a Robert Frost verse. Ponder the underlying meaning of an Edward Hirsch poem.

  4. How to Write Poetry: A Beginner's Guide to Poetry

    How Do You Write a Poem from a New Perspective? How Do You Write a Meaningful Poem? How Do You Write a Poem About a Theme? What Are Some Different Types of Poetry? Conclusion How Do You Start Writing Poetry? Tip 1: Focus on Concrete Imagery One of the best ways to start writing poetry is to use concrete images that appeal to the five senses.

  5. How to Write a Poem: Get Tips from a Published Poet

    1. Brainstorm your starting point 2. Free-write in prose first 3. Choose your poem's form and style 4. Read for inspiration 5. Write for an audience of one — you 6. Read your poem out loud 7. Take a break to refresh your mind 8. Have fun revising your poem Why should novelists and short story writers try their hand at poetry? Click to tweet! 1.

  6. How to Write a Poem

    How to Write a Poem Step by Step Steps to Writing a Poem. Writing a poem can be a deeply personal and rewarding process. Here are the key steps to guide you on your poetic journey: 1. Finding Inspiration: Drawing from Personal Experiences and Observations. Inspiration is the first spark that ignites the process of writing a poem.

  7. 36 Poetry Writing Tips

    Study musicality in writing (rhythm and meter). Use poetry prompts when you're stuck. Be funny. Make a funny poem. Notice what makes others' poetry memorable. Capture it, mix it up, and make it your own. Try poetry writing exercises when you've got writer's block. Study biographies of famous (or not-so-famous) poets.

  8. 11 Tips for Writing Better Poetry

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 16, 2021 • 4 min read Writing poems can be an incredibly exciting and liberating undertaking for writers of all ages and experience levels. Poetry offers writers many ways to play with form and convention while producing emotionally resonant work.

  9. 4 Ways to Write Poetry for Beginners

    Try to write poetry for at least 10 minutes a day, or more if you have time. Write about anything that you are inspired by. [3] If you think you will forget to write, try setting an alarm on your phone or using a post-it note to remind you. 4. Keep a poetry journal with you to write when inspiration strikes.

  10. How to Write a Poem: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

    Let your mind wander for 5-10 minutes and see what you can come up with. Write to a prompt. Look up poem prompts online or come up with your own, like "what water feels like" or "how it feels to get bad news.". Write down whatever comes to mind and see where it takes you. Make a list or mind map of images.

  11. Poetry Writing 101

    Ideas For Poems Why Write Poetry? benefit 1 Fostering a deeper appreciation for literature and the written word. benefit 2 Encouraging critical thinking and reflection. benefit 3 Enhancing creativity and imagination. benefit 4 Improving language skills and vocabulary. Poetry writing can be a highly beneficial and rewarding activity for many people.

  12. Poetry Writing Tips: 10 Helpful Hacks for How to Write a Poem

    Tip #1 Know Your Goal. If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there? You need to know what you are trying to accomplish before you begin any project. Writing a poem is no exception. Before you begin, ask yourself what you want your poem to "do."

  13. How to Write and Publish Your Own Poetry Book

    5 Tips for Publishing a Poetry Book. Here are some tips to help you get your own poetry collection published: 1. Cultivate your poetry collection. The most essential step towards attracting the attention of a book publisher is having a collection of poems that is unimpeachably strong. Most poetry books contain between 30 and 100 poems, so it ...

  14. Poetry 101: Resources for Beginners

    Poetry 101: Resources for Beginners - How to Read a PoemReading poetry well is part attitude and part technique. Curiosity is a useful attitude, especially when it's free of preconceived ideas about what poetry is or should be. Effective technique directs your curiosity into asking questions, drawing you into a conversation with the moreWhere to StartBook Recommendations We asked ...

  15. 8 Tips to Improve Your Poetry

    As one of the most intimate writing styles, poetry in many forms has been celebrated for its ability to evoke strong emotions from readers. If your looking improve your poetry writing, or start writing now, here are our top 8 tips for amazing and impactful writing. 1. Know your end goal How do you want to make people feel after they read your poem?

  16. 9 Creative Writing Exercises For Poets

    9 Creative Writing Exercises For Poets. Writer's block plagues writers of all kinds, but perhaps none more so than poets. Writing poetry is an exercise in patience, passion, and perseverance. From mining your surroundings to playing with literary devices, here are some exercises to help stimulate your imagination. Writer's block plagues ...

  17. 6 Online Tools for Poets

    May 10, 2021 Some days, the creativity flows easier than others—and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with seeking a little help. There are a number of online tools for poets that can help fuel your writing.

  18. 101 Poetry Prompts & Ideas for Writing Poems

    1.The Untouchable: Something that will always be out of reach 2. 7 Days, 7 Lines: Write a poem where each line/sentence is about each day of last week 3. Grandma's Kitchen: Focus on a single memory, or describe what you might imagine the typical grandmother's kitchen to be like 4. Taste the Rainbow: What does your favorite color taste like? 5.

  19. 50 Poetry Prompts to Help Jumpstart Your Creativity

    1. Write a poem based on a recent dream you've had. 2. Write about whatever you see outside your window right now. 3. Write about a color without naming the color in the poem. 4. Write a poem about a country you've never been to but would like to visit one day. 5.

  20. 5 Tips For How To Read Poetry: Life Kit : NPR

    And keep in mind the first two tips: this isn't school, and there isn't a single answer. What you see is what you see. If you need help — Choi suggests doodling images that really stick out as ...

  21. How Poetry Can Heal

    Poetry is a genre of writing in which succinct, vivid, and intense language is given to feelings, images, and ideas. It is a snapshot written from the inside out. William Wordsworth defined poetry ...

  22. The Best Sites To Publish Poetry Online Easily And For Free

    8. Wattpad. It is one of the most popular sites on the Internet. So, it makes it a logical choice to publish your poetry online. There is a special section of Wattpad that is dedicated to poetry. Wattpad has a younger readership than many other sites, so it will depend on the type of audience you are targeting. 9.

  23. Poem Generator: Create 30 Different Types of Poems

    This poetry generator tool will help you write a positive, loving poem about a friend or family member. In order to create the poem, you will need to enter the name of the person that you are writing about, their relationship to you, and some information about the person. Our Original Poem Generator

  24. How Poetry Can Change Your Life

    Poetry therapist Geraldine (Geri) Giebel Chavis, former president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, has long used reading and writing poetry and other forms of literature to help ...

  25. 8 modern poets who have a unique way with words

    Her powerful style of spoken-word poetry emphasizes rhythm and rhyme, imbuing it with an almost musical quality. 2. Richard Blanco. "One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes. tired from work: some days guessing at the weather. who knew how to give, or forgiving a father. who couldn't give what you wanted.".

  26. 3 new poetry collections taking the pulse of the times

    Bolina's ironic humor feels like the inevitable vehicle for this insight, and these poems are often darkly laugh-out-loud funny. The book is set up to be read either from the front or the back ...

  27. Will AI Render Programming Obsolete?

    In the era of generative AI, everyone has the ability to engage in programming-like activities, telling computers what to do on their behalf. But conveying your desires accurately — to people, traditional programming languages, or even new-fangled transformers — requires training, effort, and practice. Generative AI is helping to meet ...