There are many ways poets write their poems. Some poets I know, compose their poems in their heads before writing them down. Some write in a fury until the page is full, and then go back and edit. Some craft the poem carefully, one word at a time, one line at a time, editing as they go. But, in my opinion, there is only one way to truly write poetry and that is, to let the words flow; don’t suppress them, edit them, inhibit them – just let them flow onto the page the way a river overflows its banks. Because in a real sense, that’s exactly what poetry is – it is “the overflow!” The overflow of emotion, of passion, of pain, of hope and despair. The poem is you, without any subterfuge, excuses, or hidden agendas. It is simply you, speaking your truth, revealing your pain or joy, declaring your humanity.
Perhaps the hardest part of writing poetry is beginning, that first word finding its way onto the page. When I am in that dark tunnel, wanting to write, needing to write, but unable to begin, I simply choose a word, a word that seems compatible with my mood, and write it down.
And then I try to find an image (metaphor/simile) for that word. “Darkness moves about me like a cold wind…” (Simile – because I used like or as.)
Once I have a beginning, I let myself feel the mood of the poem and go with that…
Darkness moves about me
like the wind wild and fierce
it sneaks beneath my coat like
fingers seeking to undress
my heart reveal the ache
that lingers there allow
the tears to flow like rain
naked in this cold
dark night permitting me
at last to scream
aloud my pain (SAK)
Once you have the body of the poem, the message of the poem, the meaning of the poem, go back and rethink or edit it or, let it be for a while – let it rest – let yourself rest and then go back to it, refreshed and ready to find the poem within a poem or to say, this is the poem – this is what I needed to say.
Here are some possible prompt words to get you started:
Lonely Sad Hopeful Joyous Sinking Seeking Needing Desire Passion Love Hate Promises Denial Greed Lust Betrayal Peace Truth Lies