Saturday, September 7, 2013

Poetry 101

I realise that some of us have been writing poetry for a while but some people might be starting out and find themselves wondering where to begin.  An exercise I was given on my Open University Creative Writing course is a good place to start.

What you need to do is go outside and describe something that catches your eye.  Now I have just got back from a holiday in Norway so my example is of a Norwegian fjord.

'A pulsing foaming carpet of blue framed by trees with sunlight sparkling on the water.  The only sounds are the screeching of gulls and the water slapping the shore.'

Now if I take what I've just written and just break up the lines and maybe take out a word or two, lo and behold, something approaching a poem emerges.

'A pulsing foaming carpet of blue framed by trees/sunlight sparkling on the water/the only sounds are the screeching of gulls/and the water slapping the shore/the waves roll out towards a Viking sea.

Okay, I added the last line for effect but I hope you get the general idea.  Don't think of poetry writing as hard.  Just be prepared to mess around with words and don't worry about making mistakes.


  1. Such great advice!! Hard to do anything well in life when saddled with doubts/apprehension

  2. Starting with description is a great way to start, thanks Janet!

  3. Describing "stuff" always nets something worthwhile, even describing the most simple mundane objects. The concrete nature of description helps get every poet out of the conceptual and into the "what is." Sometimes as a writing warm up I'll describe something like the desk lamp, using as many senses as possible. I've never molded it into a poem, but today I think I will.


  4. This is a real easy and important lesson :)