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

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