While it may seem like it takes a true scholar to become a renowned poet, poetry is more easy than you may think and functions as a valuable outlet for internal reflection and contemplation. (Illustration by Alicia Paauwe, Oakland University) Writing poetry sounds intimidating. It brings to mind the genius of tortured poets like Sylvia Plath or Henry David Thoreau, who famously retreated into the woods to write secluded in nature. Thankfully, writing (and submitting) modern poetry has a much simpler process. Anyone can become a poet — all you need is an idea, story or message you want to tell, and you’re off to a great start!
Here’s how to start, if you have never written poetry before: Keep an idea-book
Everyone has different writing processes, but it’s a good idea to have a go-to place to jot down quick lines or ideas that come to mind. It can be the Notes app on your phone or it can be old school with a composition notebook. You can even use the end-pages or leftover pages of school journals and old novels. Keeping a journal can help you catalog particularly striking images and thoughts as they occur to you throughout your day. Part of the power of poetry is the lyrical language and poignant imagery that conveys our shared human experience. Read the work of a variety of poets, including modern poetry
The simplest way to get inspired and to improve your poetry is to read poems, especially from a variety of sources. Part of becoming a better writer is constantly finding new poetry collections and reading contemporary literary magazines to expose yourself to new and diverse voices . Many of us remember reading the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Percy Shelley or maybe Emily Dickinson throughout high school, but there are incredible modern poets such as Ocean Vuong , Amy King and Nathaniel Mackey who present singular perspectives, diverse cultural experiences and vibrant contemporary aesthetics in their depiction of life and all its forms. The benefit of reading modern poetry is not only understanding what currently prevails in poetry circles, but encountering new styles and forms of expression that might resonate with you more intimately. And on that note: Experiment with different forms of poetry
Don’t be afraid to be experimental once you have the basics down. In addition to expressive forms like long free verse, you can also experiment with more conventional forms like nursery rhymes, limericks or haikus. Even if there is a specific type of poem that you consider your bread and butter, it’s worth playing with different poetry forms. Write a few quick nursery rhymes. Construct a concrete poem. Visit a museum and be inspired to write an ekphrasis. Playing with form and structure can help you build your poetry writing skills and find new types of poetry that fit your personal style. Play with rhyme
Simple rhyme schemes like AABB or ABAB are the forms that most people […]