How Do You Write a Poem?

A simple question in my inbox

from an earnest eighth grade boy,

“How do you write a poem?”

“I am stuck.”

For this student,

a well crafted mentor text

was enough

to move the young writer

from standing still

to a steady jog.

But, in truth,

there are a thousand ways to write a poem…

walk out in the sunshine

or steal away in the night;

close your eyes to rewind a memory

or listen to the notes of your heart;

sit daily at a desk with blank paper

and a pencil

or sketch, paint, color

the outlines of a poem;

play a favorite song

or revel in the quiet.

There is no foolproof method,

no secret guide to

crafting poetry.


poems are all around us

just waiting to be read.

7 thoughts on “How Do You Write a Poem?

  1. Your answer — and your writing — to this question is extremely inspiring, Beth! Thanks for sharing your beautiful words and your response with us. Because, at the end of the day, “There is no foolproof method/no secret guide to/crafting poetry.”


  2. I loved your middle stanza! Being out in nature and stuck with my thoughts in the middle of the night have always been my two biggest poetry inspirations! I love poetry, and I’m saddened by how many people are intimidated by it. This is beautiful!


  3. Finding a topic is quite a challenge, but now that March is coming to a close, how to narrow the choices! It seems the more one writes, the easier it come – maybe? Thank you for a beautiful poem. I love the earnestness of his request, as if there is a formulaic answer. It is seems as if he asked the right person, for sure!


  4. This is lovely, a poem about how to write a poem, so good. You have crafted so many ideas and they all ring true and you’ve woven them into a poem. The last two lines summarise it all, poems are everywhere, waiting to be read!


  5. This is so beautiful. I’m teaching an afterschool poetry class next week and want to share this poem with them–it’s so full of great inspiration, and I think will spark some important conversation about the many ways to be a poet. I also want to use this as a mentor text for my students doing the classroom slice of life–how one can take a question from the day and turn it into a thoughtful slice.


  6. I love that you describe the student as:
    from standing still/ to a steady jog.
    Becasue to ask for help was a certain stance.
    It makes me think how to describe the student stuck but not asking and the student soaring. Various walking/running analogies work so well!!

    I also love your list of ALL the many actions a poet can take to write a poem. Such a great slice!! Thanks for sharing.


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