I’ve written hundreds of poems in my life. Some are really good and some are only for my eyes. I had to write many bad poems to get to write some good ones, but you may not have to do that because I’m going to give you a surefire formula for writing a good poem every time.
You may not become Poet Laureate, but you’ll be proud to share it with your friends and perhaps some random people.
First, find a quiet place where you can think and you won’t feel self-conscious. Bring along a notebook and a pen, of course.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Let your thoughts swirl around for 15 seconds or so, then allow your mind to settle on one word. I don’t care how silly or bizarre or ordinary the word sounds, just write that word down.
Now, here’s where things get fun. If your word is an idea, object or animal, imagine it as a person. If your word is a person, imagine them as an object.
Here’s where you can allow your creativity to take over. You can write a short haiku or you can go on for a dozen stanzas. You can rhyme or not. I think the most beautiful poems are not forced rhyme.
You will construct your poem this way:
Start with a phrase that describes what something is
Anger is my friend
Then the next line will be what is does to you or how it makes you feel, act, think.
She wakes me in the morning with a cup of bitter coffee
She ties me comfortably into knots
Then there is the result. This concludes your poem. It will describe your current state at the time of writing the poem or where you imagine you will be. It could end in a question or an admonition. The point is to construct some kind of resolution, so that the reader gets the full story.
When she is still full, she eats my pain
wasting my body like yesterday’s eggs
You may not have a masterpiece the first time around, but chances are, you will be left with a good poem. The more you use this formula, the better you will get. Then you can start to add some other more sophisticated elements, such as word play. Of course, this is not the only way to write a poem. If you examine great poetry you’ll detect dozens of formulas that will work. Charles Bukowski’s style reminds me of someone having a conversation with a friend. Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni’s poetry embody the voices that we use when we speak to ourselves. Find a poet whose voice speaks to you and break their poems down. Experiment with symbolism, imagery, simile and hyperbole. After all it’s about self-expression and crafting a work of art.