Instructables
Picture of How to Write Poetry
Ever wondered how to write different styles of poetry? While the content of the poems is up to you, there are a variety of common styles that you can use.

Poetry, like other forms of creative writing, can be a great way to propose ideas, convey emotions, and entertain the audience all in one.

Important disclaimer: This is not, nor does it purport to be, the ultimate authoritative source about poetry. This is only a basic introduction to a variety of common styles of poetry. The goal of this Instructable is: to hopefully inspire those who have never written poetry before to try their hand at it and teach them enough to be able to do so, to encourage those who have tried some styles of poetry to expand their repertoire and try some of the others, or just shed a little more light about the subject of poetry and introduce the casual observer to the works of some very famous (and very talented) poets. Who knows? Maybe you'll like some of their poems enough to try your own.

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Step 1: Free Verse

Very simply, poetry does not have to rhyme. While there are many more concrete styles of rhyming poetry, poets sometimes feel that non-rhyming poetry can express ideas in ways that rhyming can't. Neither rhyming or non-rhyming poetry is better than the other--it is a matter of personal preference.

Being unconstrained by a rhyme scheme may make it easier to find the right words for your thoughts; however, it is not necessarily easier to write non-rhyming poetry. Quality non-rhyming poetry requires as much effort and skill as good rhyming poetry.

Non-rhyming poetry is a blanket category: within it, there are many more specific types of poetry.

First, we will look at free verse, which is essentially no-rules poetry: no rhyme scheme, no meter, no syllable limits. The poet abides by his or her own boundaries while writing. The best way to get an idea of free verse poetry is to look at a few examples:

Earth, My Likeness
by Walt Whitman

EARTH, my likeness,
Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric there,
I now suspect that is not all;
I now suspect there is something fierce in you eligible to burst forth,
For an athlete is enamour'd of me, and I of him,
But toward him there is something fierce and terrible in me eligi-
ble to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words, not even in these songs.

There is no given meter (or arrangement of the words in the line), and no rhyme scheme, yet Whitman manages to put strong emotional sentiment into his words. When writing poetry, you want to put your thoughts into words in whatever way you think most adequately displays them.

Let's look at one more example of free verse poetry:

The Garden
by Ezra Pound

Look at the original version because the formatting is crucial. Notice the tabs he uses--you should not feel forced to line everything up. You are allowed to arrange your poem in any manner you see fit. This can include determining which words are capitalized and which are not--the first word of every line does not always have to be capitalized. The best way to approach free verse may be to just get all of your ideas down on paper and then try to rearrange them to make them flow and give them maximum impact.

Check out these authors for more ideas of free verse (not all of their poems are free verse, though):

Ezra Pound
Walt Whitman
Carl Sandburg
ewcrew4 months ago

when we parted I was good and you were dead,

now I'm as good as dead

ewcrew ewcrew4 months ago

I've got another one:

Here I lie,

With nothing
left.

There you
die,

Of life
bereft.

sabu.dawdy9 months ago
gooooooooooooooooooood
This really helped thank!
Truefriend2 years ago
Good article on writing poetry. There's so many kinds of poetry out there. You are right that poetry is a great way to express emotions, get ideas out there and entertain all at once. There's also a new social media site for poets to write and post their poetry on and to show it off to the world. it's www.Pondrin.com
Sarah34 Clark_M2 years ago
Wow, you know about ReadandWritePoems.com too! Ben Grove Has the best bar none poem writing help. And now his ebooks are FREE!

The explanation is really good. I see dedication in the author while he was writing this. I've been looking for this post eversince. This is perfect for my study. :)
by the way I've been studying haiku poems and I'm loving haiku poems examples made by famous poets like basho.
tmoler013 years ago
my poem so far
My lips are the gun,
My smile, tha trigger,
My kisses are the bullets,
Label me a killer
Some time love go's that far, So go ahead and pull tha trigger, Put tho's bullets in my heart so you can keep it forever, SO i mite be a killer if it means being a lover so go on and LABEL ME A KILLER
froper tmoler013 years ago
I like that. I couldn't come up with something like it. It's good so far. :)
hcollins13 years ago
Great article Josh. here are also the best poems of Carl Sandburg , Ezra Pound and Whitman. Keep up the great work...
tpinoy3 years ago
I've been writing poetry for quite some time now but I never stop on searching for more tips to improve my craft. And when I stumbled upon this thread, I can't just resist but to read it. Thanks. By the way this resource maybe of help
How to Write Simple Poems
bowmaster5 years ago
My free verse: I am a butt and I smell like cheese.
My free verse: Run, or the monster will eat...
Cooks99995 years ago
Hello! This picture is..........................................lovely!?
Cooks99995 years ago
Yeah............... keep it up!
This is excellent. I had it in my head to do something similar, but found that it had already been done, and far beyond my capacity. Good job.
fabs5 years ago
Hey, great overview of various kinds of poetry.

Whilst writing poetry can be simple, it can also be very complex, it really depends on how much of a challenge you're up for. Furthermore, it really depends on how much you expect from yourself. As ascii said, don't worry if what you think you've written is really bad... most of the time, other people will enjoy it. On top of that, getting feedback is the only way you're going to get better. :)

Also, if you're looking for inspiration or finding it hard, there are plenty of places on the net to get you started. I was involved at http://www.readwritepoem.org for a while, they have great weekly prompts, and have an emphasis on collaboration, which is a great way to get started if you're feeling shaky.
fabs5 years ago
a bit of a techincal explanation on rhythm here: 'pentameter' refers to the fact that each line has five (penta) metric feet. For example, iambic pentameter indicates that there are 5 iambs in the line. As each iamb has two syllables, every second syllable stressed, that makes 10 syllables per line. note also that there are other kinds of 'meter', such as tetrameter (4 feet).
fabs5 years ago
That's a really good point about "not having to line everything up". In one of my poems, the only difference between 2 drafts was the fact that some lines had one or two spaces at the start of them. I think it's really effective when used well, especially if you're trying to assist some kind of rhythm or conduce your reader into reading it in a particular way.
good job man keep up the good work
crizzsavo5 years ago
This was very helpful for writing poetry! The only thing is can you add the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost? I was wondering what type of poem that is and I really want to write like that! Thx!
ascii6 years ago
Nice post. I would add a couple of bits of advice for those who want to write poetry: the first is that it is very simple - most people don't do it and anything you write at all will impress people. I only write rhymed verse, because it is a bit more difficult but a lot more impressive. (Just my opinion.) A lot of people write four line verses, with the rhyme scheme AABB. If you change this to ABAB it usually sounds much better, and often little or no changes are needed other than swapping the lines. Don't force a rhyme - if you have to end a line with something like "We did eat" then you need to rewrite it, because it sounds clunky. Similarly given a few minutes thought you can generally swap words out and fix lines with too many or too few syllables. If this doesn't work, put it aside for half an hour and try again. While a specific time and quiet surrounding are nice, I write at work in an engineering office, in rapid email exchanges against a group of people who are probably a lot better than I. The best poems are published in the company newsletter, not because they are good but because I am the editor. Remember, don't worry if it's perfect, just keep at it.
lawizeg6 years ago
Funny, cause i just did a report on John Keats, a famous poet.
kevmalone6 years ago
Excellent. Great examples
skunkbait6 years ago
I'm very sleepy I ate way too much turkey My pants, oh so tight!
Good job..this is one of my favorites from a shirt on threadless: Haikus are easy But sometimes they don't make sense Refrigerator.
hahaha :P
I once thumbtacked myself to the wall of my refridgerator
dude i love threadless!! i want to get some of the shirts that are on there monkey
hay_jumper6 years ago
very nice 'ible thoughtful, linked, and thorough. I henceforth write some.
korculablue6 years ago
Wow! Loved this! As a keen writer of poetry I found much to absorb and lots of useful and/or fascinating tips. Thank you so much