4 Ways to Jump Start Your Poetry
essay writing process

4 Ways to Jump Start Your Poetry

4 Ways to Jump Start Your Poetry: Imagine you’re driving on an unknown dirt road and come to a five-way stop. (work with me here) Not using a GPS, or a map, you need to make a decision on which way to go. You know where you’ve been. Excitement rises at the possibilities. Each direction hides interesting prospects. What do you do?

Don’t stick to one direction, choose all 4 unknown paths. Drive with purpose down an unknown road, learn something, come back and try another route. Even the road you just came down. New things will appear. Same with writing poetry. Maybe you feel your writing is growing stale. You want to shake it up. What do you want to change?

Make a list. Here’s one to get you started.

  1. Perhaps you’ve always avoided form poems. They’re too hard. They’re old-fashioned and stodgy. Not at all! Form poems require structure. Line length and meter. Rhyme schemes, stanza requirements, and different forms of repetition. Some form poems require you to do a whole lot in a teeny tiny little space. It’s challenging. It forces your brain to work differently. You have to read a bunch of those form poems to wrap your head around them. Excellent ways to get out of a rut, or slack period, and develop a new appreciation for our poet ancestors who may have only written in forms.

Like Pictures?

  1. Go Ekphrastic. Look at a painting or other work of art. Study it closely and examine the emotions it brings to the surface. Write a poem in response to those feelings. Many museums put their collections online to view but if you can stand in front of an artwork in person, all the better. I will never forget the feeling of standing in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Picasso’s Guernica. Awe-inspiring and it gave me a deep appreciation of technical skills among other, more intimate emotions.
  1. Along the same lines as ekphrastic, read a book of poems by your favorite poet. Or one you pluck at random off the shelf. Find a poem that resonates with you. Ruminate over it. Then write your response. It can be as close or far away from the original as you like. Just remember, if it’s close, give credit after your title  
Your Poem Title
After Mary Oliver
  1. Change your Point of View. There are an awful lot of poems written in the first person. It’s the most popular POV out there right now. What if you wrote your poem in your usual POV, then switched it up? First to second or third and vice versa. How does that change your perception of the poem? The dynamics? The mechanics? If you distance yourself by flipping first to third, does it go from personal to detached? Can you make it more universally appealing that way? 

So, that was 4 Ways to Jump Start Your Poetry

Make a list of things you’d like to try. Even if they are things you swore you’d never write. The Muse likes upheaval, or she just might go whisper in someone else’s ear. 

Where are some places you can find lists of things to try? Internet, poetry how-to books, peeking over a friend’s shoulder, attending a workshop, listening to a podcast, watching a Zoom class by a favorite poet. Make your list and try something new. Your poetry will thank you. 

More Essays on Writing Poetry

Creating Your Own Poetry Prompts

Spin Poetry from your Dreams

Writing Narrative Poetry

Poetry Triggers – Music

Great Openings in Poetry

Outside Links

Poetry Prompt Generator

Poetry Writing Tools