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.

Instead,

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.”

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  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!

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  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!

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  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!

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  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.

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  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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