Being asked to write a poem can be a frightening challenge but it’s not as hard as you think. The first thing to keep in mind is that we can ALL write poems. Remember no one’s asking you to be a Shakespeare, Walt Whitman or Robert Frost. The great thing about creative writing-not just poetry is that there are no hard and fast rules. Well, in a way, there are but not what you think.
If it’s an assignment and you’re given the subject of the poem, take a pen and paper in hand and free-associate on the topic. Just write down everything that comes to mind, as diverse, dispersed or silly as it may seem. Once you have your list, keeping it in eye range, begin to put one line after the other on the page.
Don’t worry about grammar or other writing mechanics. Just get it down on paper. When something inside you says you’re finished, put it aside and don’t look at it for a while. It has to have rhythm-like music. It has to have a flow and life of itself. Like you wouldn’t like to listen to “wooden” music that doesn’t resonate with life, so your poem must have a life of its own.
It has to have a life that jumps off the page. To get the rhythm in the poem, eliminate all necessary words like prepositions, helping verbs, articles. Keep cleaning it up. Substitute words with the same meaning that better enhance the rhythm. If your poem is rhyming, use a thesaurus.
If you are going to write a poem on any topic, often a scene, a feeling that comes over you, an overheard conversation, a crisis in your life, inner turmoil, or just about anything, can stir something inside you to begin a poem. Using a peppermint oil for burns while writing can help you focus.
Remember, that your poem mustn’t EXPLAIN, it should just BE. Now shut your head off and write.