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How to Be a Good Poet

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Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.

How to Be a Good Poet.

How to Be a Good Poet.

Writing Poetry Is an Experience

Paul Engle, the poet and New York Times columnist, gave the perfect definition of poetry when he said.

“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”

That said, poets are an odd, beautiful breed. Constantly observant and obsessed by details, we speak a language that can both transcend and tap into time and place.

And writing poetry is more of a condition than a profession. It is a potpourri of emotions measured and put into words with the expectation that the readers will understand something of it.

And for the record, there are no rules. In fact, poets have a whole playground before them (life!). There are probably about a million ways to write a poem and there are hundreds of poetic styles vying for attention.

But the one common thing is that all poems (most of them in fact) are beautified journal entries that trigger memories, emotions, and sentiments. Writing a poem means paring down your experience to just a few words or phrases. When you write a poem, the challenge is to capture a moment, a feeling or a fleeting thought.

Here are a few pointers that can help you be a good poet.

Focus on a Particular Moment

Focus on a Particular Moment

Focus on a Particular Moment

Poems work best if you focus on a moment that expresses an emotion or is a metaphor for an idea. Such moments occur every day. We just need to notice them.

For example, imagine the spring season is just starting and you see petals of cherry adorning the roadside. You can just capture this moment in the haiku poetic form like this:

From all directions,
winds bring petals of cherry.
finally, Spring comes.

Live in the moment. Be present. Capture these moments in words of poetry. The more details you use, the more vivid your poem will be. Sensory details help your readers to identify emotionally with your poem.

Besides the literary benefits, poetry also helps us savor the simple moments of life, calms us down during times of stress, and helps us to be more focused.

Describe Something or Someone

Describe Something or Someone

Describe Something or Someone

Specificity strengthens a poem, and it is hard to get more specific than throwing all your attention toward one thing or person.

For example, you might tell your friends what your boss is like. You might tell your sister what that cute guy you saw looks like. You may also describe the people you met at an event or gathering.

For instance, I had gone to a poetry reading where I met multiple personalities of poets, including some interesting ones I was able to capture in poetic form:

The Drunk Poet
Whiffs of liquor breath,
intoxicate my golden words.
No vodka, no poem.

The Emotional Performance Poet
Eyelashes on fire,
my poems become fiery balls,
mouthed incessantly.

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Even outside of everyday conversations, it is very useful to know how to describe people. Reading or hearing a description of someone can give you a better idea of what they look like or act like and can be an inexhaustible source of poetic imagination.

Satirize the Ordinary

Satirize the Ordinary

Satirize the Ordinary

The funny thing about the word "ordinary" is that it requires that the majority of a populous with similar characteristics to be doing the same thing. I find this thought-provoking.

We may have similar external attributes — a partner, a job, a car, a home, bills, children, etc. — but what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary is how we dance with each of these details.

Honor the miraculousness of the ordinary. What we very badly need to remember is that the things right under our noses are extraordinary, fascinating, irreplaceable and profound.

For example, we all spend copious amounts of time in various forms of social media. We can very well equate them to the “modern sins” of this world:

Tinder.
Her bumtastic bod,
evokes passions across men.
Is it love or lust?

Yelp.
Don’t be a glutton.
Instead, be a connoisseur
of lip-smacking food.

Linkedin.
Corporate ladder;
Greedy people don’t climb steps.
They use connections.

Always remember, poetry is just rearranging familiar things in a unique way and perspective. The things you do every day are the best ingredients for poetry.

Let Your Work Be Open to Interpretation

Let Your Work Be Open to Interpretation

Let Your Work Be Open to Interpretation

Poetry is all about the reader’s experience.

You may have an idea in mind that you wish to convey, and they may have a similar experience to you that the poem reminds them of, or they may feel particularly affected by your poetry in the way that you desired.

Your reader may also react in a way you did not imagine — with a memory of something important to them or an alternate emotion, based on an image or a word that you have used. One of the most wonderful things about poetry is that it can be open to interpretation.

For example, the below poem talks about food but also goes beyond food in ways more than one.

I make spinach dip
with minimum ingredients.
All I require is
green spinach leaves, spices
and passion play in kitchen.

Your poem can be a world in which your readers can go and live themselves and seek out things that resonate for them. Do not restrict their reaction. Set them free.

Lastly, Do Not Listen to the Rules

Lastly, Do Not Listen to the Rules

Lastly, Do Not Listen to the Rules

There are not any fixed rules to writing poetry — that is perhaps what makes it such a liberating medium of expression.

People say a lot of things about poetry. It should rhyme. It should be in couplets. It should be confessional. It should be political. It should be about nature. It should be written in high language. It should be formatted a certain way. It should have titles. It should be Instagrammable and so on…

All this is bollocks...

Create the poetry you want to read. There are no rules, and if someone tells you there are, they are not poets at all. Good poets create rules, reinvent rules and delete those rules when they no longer conform to their emotions.

To sum up: a good poem translates and articulates your feeling in a way the reader can understand and feel with you. Just go on writing without worrying about rules. Suddenly, you will find your voice and sing joyfully.

As E.B White has aptly said.

“A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer… He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.”

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:

All, please do take some time to comment on this article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 18, 2021:

Thanks Alyssa for your comments.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 18, 2021:

Thanks Linda for your wonderful comments

Alyssa from Ohio on April 18, 2021:

You had me at "there are no rules." That's what I love most about poetry. I love your tip to satirize the ordinary. I'm going to keep that in mind next time I sit down to let the words flow.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 18, 2021:

This is a lovely article about poetry, I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing your ideas and examples, Ravi.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 18, 2021:

All please feel free to comment

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 18, 2021:

Ravi, you're always welcome.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 18, 2021:

Thanks Miebakagh

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 18, 2021:

Glad to hear that.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

All please feel free to comment

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Tuli for your wonderful comments

Tulii Banerjee from Kolkata on April 17, 2021:

I always wanted to be a poet. So I enjoyed reading this, learned a lot. Thanks, Ravi for this wonderful article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Misbah for your wonderful and insightful comments. Much appreciated.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Chitrangada for your wonderful comments

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on April 17, 2021:

Ravi, I enjoyed reading this article of yours. Very thoughtful. You said, Writing a poem means paring down your experience to just a few words or phrases— so true.

Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated

Blessings and Peace

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 17, 2021:

Interesting article about how to become a good poet. Your points are insightful and significant, and should be kept in mind, by the aspiring poets. I especially liked the point about, satirizing the ordinary.

Thoughtful and well done. Thanks for sharing.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Brenda for your wonderful comments.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 17, 2021:

Ravi,

I believe you are mastering the art of writing.

Excellent job on this one.

Poetry is whatever the poet wants it to be...

I enjoyed reading this one.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Liz for your kind comments.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 17, 2021:

This is an interesting and well thought through article. It is a great tool for any budding poet.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Gyanendra for your comments

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on April 17, 2021:

This is your beautiful article about how to write poems beautifully. i will email it to a student She will learn much from here Thank you.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Miebakagh for your comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 17, 2021:

For years I thought there must be some rules governing poetry, and I could not find any. So I took pen and paper and wrote my first poem. Success and featured, I wrote a second and third that move to LetterPile. Thanks for sharing these timeless facet of poetry writing.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks for your comments Flourish. As I mentioned poetry is a condition of mind and not a profession. It is something to be enjoyed.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 17, 2021:

I like your approach to poetry. Your examples are comical, whimsical, and do not take themselves too seriously. So many poets are preachy and puffed up in self-importance, the stuff of cheap dollar store rhyming fodder.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Devika for your kind comments

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 17, 2021:

A good poet is exactly what you describe here. Words mean a lot and your advice is valuable to all poets to be. Your meaningful words has no boundaries to poets. It all makes sense from the in-depth of being a good poet .

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

All please do comment on this article

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 17, 2021:

Thanks Ann for your comments

Ann Carr from SW England on April 17, 2021:

I totally agree. It's a passion for words and the emotions are all. We can even make up our own words. No restrictions. I love your original descriptions here, Ravi. Great advice and great writing - quite poetic actually!

Ann

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