Monday, 11 January 2016

How to Write a Poem

Many people would have pondered across this question, as they go through a Literature course or after they read a poem. In fact, we face many poems in our lives, which are music lyrics, phonics, children's books, and the fiction or romance books. Poem is an intuitive matter which jolts up people's minds, as it can be very concise, yet emotionally overwhelming. Perhaps, this simplicity compels people to reading poems.

However, do you not feel that reading poem is insufficient? You feel so many emotions as you go through series of events in your life. Writing a poem will make you surge your emotions to a level where you can express them wisely. It is like an art form of texts - it can take a very long time, or can take a few seconds to write in impromptu manner. Yet, we should not forget the original purpose of poem - to deliver a message, and to deliver emotions.

Writing a poem, for me, is extremely difficult. Anyone who sees my poems will not understand anything, but thinks it is cool because there are difficult vocabulary used, or simply because, you can't understand. This is a completely wrong mind-set when you read a poem - when you don't understand, it is either because that poem is bad, or you are a bad reader. Usually, it is the latter, but for my poems, the former applies greatly.

There may be grammatical errors which were unintended, yet people might misunderstand them as a message due to poetic license, allowing me to write a poem in a sense where grammatical errors can be ignored. Let me give you a preview of such poem:

Aunt Jennifer’s TigersBy Adrienne Rich 
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer’s finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
Don't you feel that there is something amiss? Yes, it is grammar. This is one feeling you get as you read a poem. Writing a poem does not require you to write by following specific regulations. This is a luxury of liberty you get when you write a poem, in my opinion. You might find it very weird at first when you are used to write essays and journals, but as you start writing, you will be allured to this only-available aspect of poem, and continue on.
However, whenever you write a poem, there must be something you must remember all the time. It is to deliver a message to a reader. Let us read a different form of a poem, called haiku, a popular Japanese-oriented 5-7-5 poem type that is used widely in many genres of cultural arts.
  • An afternoon breeze
    expels cold air, along with
    the fallen brown leaves.

I gave an example of haiku because it follows a specific order. Let us look at Shakespearean sonnet, which follows an iambic pentameter, a rhyme scheme which consists of ten syllables, according to Wikipedia. At the same time, a rhyming couplet, which is a rhyme at the end of line, is used simultaneously.


Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

William Shakespeare is a genius - he had put in a unique order in his poem, and calls it a sonnet. This is a prologue of Romeo and Juliet, where Chorus reads it out before the start of Act 1 Scene 1, to give audience a brief summary and a forewarning that the story is a tragedy.

There are so many literary devices which you can use to ensure that you can write better in your poems, and these are extremely important to make sure that what you are delivering in the poem is emphasised through your analytical skills. However, do keep in mind that this might disturb your reading skill of poem, as you're looking into the woods, but not the forest. There are rhymes, alliterations, imagery, symbolism, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and so many more. These are usually associated with poems and they are widely used in different languages due to their purposes. Do you remember nursery rhymes, or ABC songs? They are easy to remember not only because of simple music with repetitive notes, but because specific rhyme schemes are used to end off the sound with a pronunciation respelling of "i:"; at Shakespearean era, there was no script, and how would actors have memorised those long texts? With the help of rhymes, it was possible to do so. Let's look at ABC song and churn this properly.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G
H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P
Q - R - S - T - U- V,
W - X - Y and Z
Now I know my ABC's
Next time won't you sing with me.


Well, but is this everything in writing a poem? Not really, in my opinion. To write a poem, you must continue writing until you get sick and tired of it. This is to make sure that you can keep up your constancy of writing a poem and feel so used to writing one that you become more expressive. Whenever I have a feeling to write a poem, I always do, and do so on my phone, because I hate my handwriting. In my opinion, poem does not necessarily have to be written with pencil or whatever. That is a very traditional and conservative thought that many poets might be thinking of, but this is 21st century. Write your own poem that is full of imagination and your new order. Numbers of poems you can write are infinite, just like how you cannot imagine how big this world will be. No matter how long, or how short your poem is, it is still a poem. That is how you write it. Imagine, think, express, and ensure that readers can decipher them, not only yourself. Simply typing some bullshit with keyboard does not let you create a masterpiece.

Before I end, I would like to state that writing a poem is not easy. As you write more and more, you will feel that writing a poem is a very hard task. Firstly, people may not understand them, and if everyone can understand, it fails as a great poem. In my opinion, a great poem is something that leaves us with a floating question mark above our heads, and turning them to exclamation marks. I didn't say that the colours of those punctuation will be akin to each other, nor the shape. There might be different opinions on one specific poem, but real answer only lies on the writer. It is completely fine for readers to be ridiculed upon writer's message, unless you feel that you've done a bad job in writing that bemused them unnecessarily. Do not over-complicate, but try to simplify your language, and write a very concise poem. As long as you can deliver your emotions correctly to readers, I believe that it is a successful poem.

Do not be afraid of writing a poem. What others may see are a simple text, a black colour, a white paper, or painting - but you know it yourself. You wrote an extraordinary text, that is unique, and only you can write it. Be bold and be different from others; be innovative, in terms of imagining and expressing. That is how I write a poem, and how I recommend you to start writing a poem.

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