When it comes to literature, where a good book is a love affair, poetry is the brief kiss in the night by a stranger. It is a titillating piece of writing that communicates a thought or feeling through imagery born from the musical use of words. Some rhyme, some are free verse. Each style is as individual as a fingerprint, and your voice is just as important as any other when it comes to painting your emotions across the page. To experience that significant, deep, emotional connection to your reader, there is only one rule to follow: be real.
Read various forms of poetry to learn the rhythm and style of diverse poets. Pay close attention how they convey the deep topics you may wish to cover, and particularly study those to which you have a powerful emotional connection.
Write poetry. Second only to reading poetry, getting your feet wet by writing how you feel will help you to better express yourself. This skill improves with practice, so every time the urge strikes you to express a deep thought or emotion, put it on the page.
Write what you know. This basic writer's tip will help you add a deeper layer to your poetry as the sometimes ravaged voice of experience. Even if you are writing a scenario that is unfamiliar, you can use your own experiences to empathize with dark, extreme paths you haven't yourself explored.
Be fearless in your honesty. If you feel afraid, explore fear. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, explore death or heartbreak. If you feel at the end of your rope, put those dark thoughts on the page. This is your catharsis, a safe outlet for your pain. Your emotional integrity will draw an audience who may share your feelings without the ability to communicate them.
Experiment with ways to communicate emotion with visual writing, which gives the reader an instant picture. You can say, "The day painted my soul black," for instant recognition of a feeling without saying the words, "I hurt" outright.
Use metaphors and similes without resorting to cliches, as many overused metaphors and similes have become. Any overused phrase will distract from the deeper feelings and imagery you hope to convey. Challenge yourself to find a new way to paint familiar pictures.
Be you. Poems are an opportunity to show the world how you see things from your special point of view. Layer your voice with your own particular way of speaking or writing, so that you give the poetry a depth of character that only you could.
Put every word on the page with the understanding the revision process will often take them away. Nothing is set in stone, so don't get frustrated if something doesn't sound right to you the first time around. Poetry is evolving, living art that will never really be "done."
Tips & Warnings
- Don't worry about rhyming your verses initially. Follow imagery and emotion for free verse, rather than some rigid structure with rules you may not fully understand as yet.
- Be inspired by other poets, but do not copy their work.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images