How to Be Poetic

Three Parts:Being More PoeticReading and Experiencing PoetryWriting Your Own Poetry

Poetry is vastly different from prose. Poets tend to see the world as a series of images and experiences, which they try to convey in their writing and in their everyday lives. Whether you're interested in becoming a poet or simply have a desire to learn more about how poets see the world, adopting a more poetic lifestyle and reading/writing poetry can help you enter this moving and powerful genre.

Part 1
Being More Poetic

  1. Image titled Study Poetry Step 16
    Try seeing the world as a poet. Poetic individuals live in the same world as the rest of humanity, but they see that world a little differently. Whereas most people are comfortable seeing the world through their own eyes, poets see the world in new and exciting ways.[1]
    • Look for new and different perspectives. You create meaning out of your perspective and interpretation of the world, so try changing the way you look at your environment and see what you notice.
    • See the world as an endless source of inspiration and opportunity. Every moment you're alive means something to you, so figure out how to express it creatively.
  2. Image titled Study for a Geography Exam Step 20
    Immerse yourself in your environment. There's a good chance that you never stop on your daily commute and take in your surroundings. In the hustle and bustle of life, it can be easy to forget that there are special moments and beautiful places all around us. By being fully present and engaging with your surroundings, you can begin to see meaning where you may have missed it before.[2]
    • Poets find ways to make the ordinary extraordinary. When you see the beauty in everyday mundane things, you begin to tease out the hidden significance of everything around you.
    • Start out by appreciating the things your body does everyday without thought, like breathing or coordinating your movements.
    • Expand outward to think about how every individual interacts with his or her environment, and consider how amazing it is that you can be a part of that person's world (and vice versa).
  3. Image titled Study Poetry Step 7
    Learn to appreciate each moment. It can be very easy to end up spending a lot of time waiting without realizing that you've lost that time. If you're at work and it's almost time to go home, you probably count down the minutes and seconds instead of finishing up your day's assignments. The same is true of how we wait for future events: the weekend, an exciting vacation, retirement, and so on. Try to stop living for the future and start appreciating the fact that you have a chance to live a meaningful life right here and now.[3]
  4. Image titled Study for Five Minutes Before a Test Step 7
    See yourself as an artist. This may be difficult if you're not used to being creative. However, everyone is an artist in some capacity. Even if you are just feeding and walking your dog, there is still a deliberate method to what you do. And ultimately your actions in caring for that dog contribute towards something larger than yourself and your own life.[4]
    • No matter what you do, in work or in your personal life, there is a way to live your life creatively and artistically.
    • If you work as an accountant, for example, you can think of yourself as someone who brings balance and a sense of order to the world.
    • Let your creativity touch and inspire others around you. People will recognize that you see yourself as an artist, and they in turn may begin to see themselves as being a part of something poetic.
  5. Image titled Start a Chapter of the Dead Poets Society Step 3
    Speak poetically. If you are committed to being more poetic in your life, you may want to try speaking poetically. Though there are no firm guidelines for poetic speech, poets typically use figurative language - that is, language that relies heavily on figurative (instead of literal) speech.[5] The most commonly-used forms of figurative language include:
    • Simile - a comparison between two unrelated things using "like" or "as." For example, "Her eyes are like diamonds" is a simile.[6]
    • Metaphor - a comparison between two unrelated things that illustrates shared qualities of each thing without using "like" or "as." For example, "His heart is a broken piñata" would be a metaphor.[7]
    • Hyperbole - a hyperbole is an extreme or unrealistic exaggeration, typically for dramatic, humorous, or ironic effect. For example, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" is a hyperbole.[8]
  6. Image titled Study Poetry Step 15
    Expand your vocabulary. Another way to become more poetic in your interactions with others is by expanding your vocabulary. By incorporating new words into your daily interactions, you can develop a more poetic range of speech.[9]
    • You can learn new words by consulting a thesaurus. Any time you're tempted to use an old, familiar word, look it up in the thesaurus to find a suitable synonym.
    • Subscribe to an email list that sends out new vocabulary words. Garner's Usage Tip of the Day, Vocab Vitamins, Wordsmith, and websites like The New York Times and the Oxford English Dictionary all have word of the day subscriptions.

Part 2
Reading and Experiencing Poetry

  1. Image titled Study Poetry Step 2
    Find poems and poets you enjoy. Poetry dates back thousands of years, with every region of the world having its own distinct poets and styles of poetry. If you're new to reading poetry, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. Novice poetry readers may find it easiest to start with poetry that uses contemporary language, though every reader's tastes and preferences are different.
    • Try an online poetry database like the Poetry Foundation. You can search through thousands and thousands of poems by subject, poet, occasion, school/period, and geographical region.[10]
    • Explore different poets and different styles of poetry until you find someone or something that is highly engrossing. Discovering poetry that you're very fond of will make it easier for you to fully engage with the text.
  2. Image titled Study Poetry Step 9
    Learn how to read poetry. Reading poetry is very different from reading prose. If you're new to the genre, it may seem confusing and even intimidating. Learning how to properly read a piece of poetry will help you better understand the poet's stylistic choices and may allow you to walk away with a deeper understanding of the poem's meaning.[11]
    • Set aside any assumptions you may have about a particular poet, his or her work, or poetry in general. Every poem is different, so you'll want to approach each piece of writing as a unique experience.
    • Remember that poetry is not written like prose. Poets may play with spacing, word choice, and organization on the page to create distinctly original pieces of writing.
    • Line breaks help the reader find the poet's intended breath of each line. However, some lines in free-verse and experimental poetry are irregular and don't follow any metrical order.
    • Recognize that poetry is essentially about capturing a moment. A poem may not have a logical beginning, middle, and end, but it should cause you to have some type of emotional reaction and sense something deeper beyond the words on the page.
  3. Image titled Study Poetry Step 8
    Read poetry out loud. Once you're comfortable reading poetry to yourself, you may want to take the next step and learn how to read poetry out loud. Hearing a poem can be a drastically different experience than reading it on a page. Many poems were meant to be heard out loud, either because of the pleasing sound combinations those poems produce or because the poem is an oral tradition passed on to others (especially in ancient poetry). If you're serious about becoming more poetic, you may want to try experiencing the sounds of spoken verse out loud.[12]
    • Read slowly. Don't rush through each line; take the time to savor the interplay of language and imagery.
    • Pause when you encounter punctuation, rather than pausing at the end of every single line break. This will make the poem less choppy and more clear to listeners, should you decide to read a poem in front of an audience.
    • Don't try to use a "dramatic" voice; just read the lines in your normal speaking voice and tone.
    • If you encounter a word you don't know or aren't sure how to pronounce, look it up in the dictionary. You owe it to the poet to understand his or her word choice and arrangement, so keep a dictionary on hand whenever you read.
  4. Image titled Pass a Class Without Really Studying Step 14
    Go to a poetry reading. Hearing practicing poets read their work out loud can be a great way to get inspired or just develop a better understanding of how poetry sounds and feels. You don't have to wait for a world-renowned poet to come through your town, either - many colleges, bookstores, coffee shops, and bars host poetry readings for both published poets and amateur writers.
    • You can find a listing of poetry readings in your community by searching online. Even small towns should hold some type of reading series, especially if you live near a college or university.
    • Start out going to readings just to hear other poets and experience the sounds of poetry. As you get more comfortable living poetically, though, you may even want to bring your own poem(s) to read in front of an audience.
  5. Image titled Study Step 26
    Consider taking a poetry class. Poetry classes can help you learn about a range of different poets, types of poetry, and styles or techniques in poetry. You can take a poetry literature course, which focuses on reading and analyzing the poetry of others, or you can take a creative writing course/workshop, which can help you write your own poetry.
    • Check your local college or community college for academic classes in poetry.
    • You can also take poetry classes or workshops for free through community centers, poetry organizations, or certain nonprofit groups.
    • Search online for opportunities to study and write poetry in a class setting in your community.

Part 3
Writing Your Own Poetry

  1. Image titled Study Poetry Step 6
    Choose a moment to capture. Any moment, whether experienced or imagined, can become the source for a poem. You may want to capture a life-altering experience in your life, but some of the best poems have been written about otherwise mundane moments. A skilled poet can capture the essence of any moment and impart it with meaning and significance.[13]
    • Explore every aspect of the moment you choose.[14]
    • Consider what it felt like living that moment when it was fresh, as well as how it appears now that the moment has passed.
    • Don't overlook the everyday moments of your lives. A moment spent waiting in fear or apprehension, for example, could make for a powerful and moving poem.
  2. Image titled Study Poetry Step 11
    Find something new and interesting in that moment. If you've chosen a relatively commonplace moment to write about, think about what could make that moment interesting or meaningful to a reader. That doesn't necessarily mean falsifying the moment; rather, it means looking for a different approach to a familiar sight, sound, smell, or concept.[15]
    • Instead of just seeing what people are doing in a given moment, imagine the private lives of those people. Think about what they do or don't do, what motivates them, and what makes them happy or sad.
    • You can also apply this method to physical places. Look past a building's four walls and think about what might have transpired within a given place and what it might have meant in someone else's life.
  3. Image titled Study Poetry Step 19
    Have an opinion on the things you write about. You may be afraid to personalize your poems for fear that a reader might disagree with you. However, a good poem should convey the poet's thoughts, opinions, and feelings on whatever is being written about.[16]
    • Every poem has a theme. This is the central "topic" of the poem.
    • A strong poem will expand on the theme with the poet's opinions and beliefs regarding that topic. This makes it more powerful as well as more meaningful, and it separates your poem from every other poem on a given subject.
  4. Image titled Study Poetry Step 20
    Play with different word choices. Some of the best poetry plays with words to produce unexpected phrasings and enjoyable sounds. This can take a lot of work, and it may involve some trial and error in replacing or entirely removing certain words to test the effects of those choices.[17]
    • Say the words out loud to see how they sound, both individually and with one another.
    • Remove unnecessary words, including words like "and," "then," and "because." Many of these and other words can be removed without causing the poem to lose clarity.
    • Try swapping out familiar or overused words with something new. Let yourself be surprised and see how the poem turns out differently with those changes.
  5. Image titled Study English Literature Step 19
    Work on developing striking similes and metaphors. A simile is a comparison using "like" or "as."[18] A metaphor uses one word, phrase, or concept to stand in for another word, phrase, or concept to show an otherwise abstract relationship.[19] For example, a metaphor for beautiful eyes might be written, "Her eyes are deep pools of mystery and misunderstanding." A simile for beautiful eyes might be, "Her eyes are like deep pools that contain uncharted beauty."
    • Poetry often relies heavily on similes and metaphors for their imagistic effect and their ability to relate two seemingly-disparate things in a short span of space.
    • Think about what a word really means, and find words that express similar things. For example, drowning can literally mean being incapable of swimming, but it can also describe a sense of feeling overwhelmed or overpowered.
    • Think about the symbolism of any words you choose. Even if you don't intend a word to carry a given symbolic meaning, some readers may interpret your work that way.
  6. Image titled Study Poetry Step 3
    Choose concrete words over abstract words. Abstract words are concepts, feelings, or ideas that are intangible. While most people recognize what abstract words like "happiness" or "sadness" mean, it's much more difficult to create an image of those emotions with written words. Instead, poets rely on concrete words, which can be described using the five senses.[20]
    • Instead of saying that a person is happy, use concrete words to describe that person's smile or the look in their eyes.
    • You can also use a metaphor or simile with concrete words for added effect. For example, you might convey that a person was happy by saying, "A smile cracked her stern face like ripples across a still pond."

Article Info

Categories: Poetry | Artistic Styles