Let me say right away…It’s not just making rhymes. Lines of words with a rhyme dangling at the end is just one kind of poetry. Poetry comes in many forms: sonnets, ballads, limericks, quatrains, free verse, haiku, allegory, just to name a few. Learn the differences in poetic forms.
A good way to start is by reading poetry, lots of poetry. Poems by many poets, both good and bad, until you can tell the difference. Become familiar with the style various poets use to express their thoughts. Find poems by poets that appeal to you. Find out what you like, and what you don’t like.
Read poetry out loud. That is the way poetry began. Before written language, ancient people used poetry as a way to carry information from one generation to another, to spread current happenings, and to entertain around the campfire. From ancient Mesopotamia, an epic poem, Gilgamesh, is thought to be the earliest surviving work of literature. It was written in the 18th century BC in cuneiform script on clay tablets.
Keep your mind open and be willing this widely. Be aware of beauty, not just in words but in nature, your surroundings, in people. If you really want to write poetry, make time to write. Write and rewrite. Don’t settle for the first effort. Continue to refine, search for words that mean what you want to say. Don’t be afraid of putting your feelings and emotions down on paper.
Willie Shakespeare had to start the same way.
By Margaret Hall Simpson
Find more at: poets.org
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