How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step

Sean Glatch  |  December 6, 2022  |  22 Comments

how to write poetry step by step

To learn how to write a poem step-by-step, let’s start where all poets start: the basics.

This article is an in-depth introduction to how to write a poem. We first answer the question, “What is poetry?” We then discuss the literary elements of poetry, and showcase some different approaches to the writing process—including our own seven-step process on how to write a poem step by step.

So, how do you write a poem? Let’s start with what poetry is.

What Poetry Is

It’s important to know what poetry is—and isn’t—before we discuss how to write a poem. The following quote defines poetry nicely:

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” —Former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove

Poetry Conveys Feeling

People sometimes imagine poetry as stuffy, abstract, and difficult to understand. Some poetry may be this way, but in reality poetry isn’t about being obscure or confusing. Poetry is a lyrical, emotive method of self-expression, using the elements of poetry to highlight feelings and ideas.

A poem should make the reader feel something.

In other words, a poem should make the reader feel something—not by telling them what to feel, but by evoking feeling directly.

Here’s a contemporary poem that, despite its simplicity (or perhaps because of its simplicity), conveys heartfelt emotion.

Poetry is Language at its Richest and Most Condensed

Unlike longer prose writing (such as a short story, memoir, or novel), poetry needs to impact the reader in the richest and most condensed way possible. Here’s a famous quote that enforces that distinction:

“Prose: words in their best order; poetry: the best words in the best order.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So poetry isn’t the place to be filling in long backstories or doing leisurely scene-setting. In poetry, every single word carries maximum impact.

Poetry Uses Unique Elements

Poetry is not like other kinds of writing: it has its own unique forms, tools, and principles. Together, these elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

The elements of poetry help it to powerfully impact the reader in only a few words.

Most poetry is written in verse , rather than prose . This means that it uses line breaks, alongside rhythm or meter, to convey something to the reader. Rather than letting the text break at the end of the page (as prose does), verse emphasizes language through line breaks.

Poetry further accentuates its use of language through rhyme and meter. Poetry has a heightened emphasis on the musicality of language itself: its sounds and rhythms, and the feelings they carry.

These devices—rhyme, meter, and line breaks—are just a few of the essential elements of poetry, which we’ll explore in more depth now.

Understanding the Elements of Poetry

As we explore how to write a poem step by step, these three major literary elements of poetry should sit in the back of your mind:

  • Rhythm (Sound, Rhyme, and Meter)
  • Literary Devices

1. Elements of Poetry: Rhythm

“Rhythm” refers to the lyrical, sonic qualities of the poem. How does the poem move and breathe; how does it feel on the tongue?

Traditionally, poets relied on rhyme and meter to accomplish a rhythmically sound poem. Free verse poems—which are poems that don’t require a specific length, rhyme scheme, or meter—only became popular in the West in the 20th century, so while rhyme and meter aren’t requirements of modern poetry, they are required of certain poetry forms.

Poetry is capable of evoking certain emotions based solely on the sounds it uses. Words can sound sinister, percussive, fluid, cheerful, dour, or any other noise/emotion in the complex tapestry of human feeling.

Take, for example, this excerpt from the poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” by Walt Whitman:

elements of poetry: sound

Red — “b” sounds

Blue — “th” sounds

Green — “w” and “ew” sounds

Purple — “s” sounds

Orange — “d” and “t” sounds

This poem has a lot of percussive, disruptive sounds that reinforce the beating of the drums. The “b,” “d,” “w,” and “t” sounds resemble these drum beats, while the “th” and “s” sounds are sneakier, penetrating a deeper part of the ear. The cacophony of this excerpt might not sound “lyrical,” but it does manage to command your attention, much like drums beating through a city might sound.

To learn more about consonance and assonance, euphony and cacophony, and the other uses of sound, take a look at our article “12 Literary Devices in Poetry.”


It would be a crime if you weren’t primed on the ins and outs of rhymes. “Rhyme” refers to words that have similar pronunciations, like this set of words: sound, hound, browned, pound, found, around.

Many poets assume that their poetry has to rhyme, and it’s true that some poems require a complex rhyme scheme. However, rhyme isn’t nearly as important to poetry as it used to be. Most traditional poetry forms—sonnets, villanelles , rimes royal, etc.—rely on rhyme, but contemporary poetry has largely strayed from the strict rhyme schemes of yesterday.

There are three types of rhymes:

  • Homophony: Homophones are words that are spelled differently but sound the same, like “tail” and “tale.” Homophones often lead to commonly misspelled words .
  • Perfect Rhyme: Perfect rhymes are word pairs that are identical in sound except for one minor difference. Examples include “slant and pant,” “great and fate,” and “shower and power.”
  • Slant Rhyme: Slant rhymes are word pairs that use the same sounds, but their final vowels have different pronunciations. For example, “abut” and “about” are nearly-identical in sound, but are pronounced differently enough that they don’t completely rhyme. This is also known as an oblique rhyme or imperfect rhyme.

Meter refers to the stress patterns of words. Certain poetry forms require that the words in the poem follow a certain stress pattern, meaning some syllables are stressed and others are unstressed.

What is “stressed” and “unstressed”? A stressed syllable is the sound that you emphasize in a word. The bolded syllables in the following words are stressed, and the unbolded syllables are unstressed:

  • Un• stressed
  • Plat• i• tud• i•nous
  • De •act•i• vate
  • Con• sti •tu• tion•al

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables is important to traditional poetry forms. This chart, copied from our article on form in poetry , summarizes the different stress patterns of poetry.

2. Elements of Poetry: Form

“Form” refers to the structure of the poem. Is the poem a sonnet, a villanelle, a free verse piece, a slam poem, a contrapuntal, a ghazal, a blackout poem , or something new and experimental?

Form also refers to the line breaks and stanza breaks in a poem. Unlike prose, where the end of the page decides the line breaks, poets have control over when one line ends and a new one begins. The words that begin and end each line will emphasize the sounds, images, and ideas that are important to the poet.

To learn more about rhyme, meter, and poetry forms, read our full article on the topic:


3. Elements of Poetry: Literary Devices

“Poetry: the best words in the best order.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

How does poetry express complex ideas in concise, lyrical language? Literary devices—like metaphor, symbolism, juxtaposition, irony, and hyperbole—help make poetry possible. Learn how to write and master these devices here:


How to Write a Poem, in 7 Steps

To condense the elements of poetry into an actual poem, we’re going to follow a seven-step approach. However, it’s important to know that every poet’s process is different. While the steps presented here are a logical path to get from idea to finished poem, they’re not the only tried-and-true method of poetry writing. Poets can—and should!—modify these steps and generate their own writing process.

Nonetheless, if you’re new to writing poetry or want to explore a different writing process, try your hand at our approach. Here’s how to write a poem step by step!

1. Devise a Topic

The easiest way to start writing a poem is to begin with a topic.

However, devising a topic is often the hardest part. What should your poem be about? And where can you find ideas?

Here are a few places to search for inspiration:

  • Other Works of Literature: Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it’s part of a larger literary tapestry, and can absolutely be influenced by other works. For example, read “The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Hayes , a poem that was inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool.”
  • Real-World Events: Poetry, especially contemporary poetry, has the power to convey new and transformative ideas about the world. Take the poem “A Cigarette” by Ilya Kaminsky , which finds community in a warzone like the eye of a hurricane.
  • Your Life: What would poetry be if not a form of memoir? Many contemporary poets have documented their lives in verse. Take Sylvia Plath’s poem “Full Fathom Five” —a daring poem for its time, as few writers so boldly criticized their family as Plath did.
  • The Everyday and Mundane: Poetry isn’t just about big, earth-shattering events: much can be said about mundane events, too. Take “Ode to Shea Butter” by Angel Nafis , a poem that celebrates the beautiful “everydayness” of moisturizing.
  • Nature: The Earth has always been a source of inspiration for poets, both today and in antiquity. Take “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver , which finds meaning in nature’s quiet rituals.
  • Writing Exercises: Prompts and exercises can help spark your creativity, even if the poem you write has nothing to do with the prompt! Here’s 24 writing exercises to get you started.

At this point, you’ve got a topic for your poem. Maybe it’s a topic you’re passionate about, and the words pour from your pen and align themselves into a perfect sonnet! It’s not impossible—most poets have a couple of poems that seemed to write themselves.

However, it’s far more likely you’re searching for the words to talk about this topic. This is where journaling comes in.

Sit in front of a blank piece of paper, with nothing but the topic written on the top. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes and put down all of your thoughts related to the topic. Don’t stop and think for too long, and try not to obsess over finding the right words: what matters here is emotion, the way your subconscious grapples with the topic.

At the end of this journaling session, go back through everything you wrote, and highlight whatever seems important to you: well-written phrases, poignant moments of emotion, even specific words that you want to use in your poem.

Journaling is a low-risk way of exploring your topic without feeling pressured to make it sound poetic. “Sounding poetic” will only leave you with empty language: your journal allows you to speak from the heart. Everything you need for your poem is already inside of you, the journaling process just helps bring it out!

3. Think About Form

As one of the elements of poetry, form plays a crucial role in how the poem is both written and read. Have you ever wanted to write a sestina ? How about a contrapuntal, or a double cinquain, or a series of tanka? Your poem can take a multitude of forms, including the beautifully unstructured free verse form; while form can be decided in the editing process, it doesn’t hurt to think about it now.

4. Write the First Line

After a productive journaling session, you’ll be much more acquainted with the state of your heart. You might have a line in your journal that you really want to begin with, or you might want to start fresh and refer back to your journal when you need to! Either way, it’s time to begin.

What should the first line of your poem be? There’s no strict rule here—you don’t have to start your poem with a certain image or literary device. However, here’s a few ways that poets often begin their work:

  • Set the Scene: Poetry can tell stories just like prose does. Anne Carson does just this in her poem “Lines,” situating the scene in a conversation with the speaker’s mother.
  • Start at the Conflict: Right away, tell the reader where it hurts most. Margaret Atwood does this in “Ghost Cat,” a poem about aging.
  • Start With a Contradiction: Juxtaposition and contrast are two powerful tools in the poet’s toolkit. Joan Larkin’s poem “Want” begins and ends with these devices. Carlos Gimenez Smith also begins his poem “Entanglement” with a juxtaposition.
  • Start With Your Title: Some poets will use the title as their first line, like Ron Padgett’s poem “Ladies and Gentlemen in Outer Space.”

There are many other ways to begin poems, so play around with different literary devices, and when you’re stuck, turn to other poetry for inspiration.

5. Develop Ideas and Devices

You might not know where your poem is going until you finish writing it. In the meantime, stick to your literary devices. Avoid using too many abstract nouns, develop striking images, use metaphors and similes to strike interesting comparisons, and above all, speak from the heart.

6. Write the Closing Line

Some poems end “full circle,” meaning that the images the poet used in the beginning are reintroduced at the end. Gwendolyn Brooks does this in her poem “my dreams, my work, must wait till after hell.”

Yet, many poets don’t realize what their poems are about until they write the ending line . Poetry is a search for truth, especially the hard truths that aren’t easily explained in casual speech. Your poem, too, might not be finished until it comes across a necessary truth, so write until you strike the heart of what you feel, and the poem will come to its own conclusion.

7. Edit, Edit, Edit!

Do you have a working first draft of your poem? Congratulations! Getting your feelings onto the page is a feat in itself.

Yet, no guide on how to write a poem is complete without a note on editing. If you plan on sharing or publishing your work, or if you simply want to edit your poem to near-perfection, keep these tips in mind.

  • Adjectives and Adverbs: Use these parts of speech sparingly. Most imagery shouldn’t rely on adjectives and adverbs, because the image should be striking and vivid on its own, without too much help from excess language.
  • Concrete Line Breaks: Line breaks help emphasize important words, making certain images and ideas clearer to the reader. As a general rule, most of your lines should start and end with concrete words—nouns and verbs especially.
  • Stanza Breaks: Stanzas are like paragraphs to poetry. A stanza can develop a new idea, contrast an existing idea, or signal a transition in the poem’s tone. Make sure each stanza clearly stands for something as a unit of the poem.
  • Mixed Metaphors: A mixed metaphor is when two metaphors occupy the same idea, making the poem unnecessarily difficult to understand. Here’s an example of a mixed metaphor: “a watched clock never boils.” The meaning can be discerned, but the image remains unclear. Be wary of mixed metaphors—though some poets (like Shakespeare) make them work, they’re tricky and often disruptive.
  • Abstractions: Above all, avoid using excessively abstract language. It’s fine to use the word “love” 2 or 3 times in a poem, but don’t use it twice in every stanza. Let the imagery in your poem express your feelings and ideas, and only use abstractions as brief connective tissue in otherwise-concrete writing.

Lastly, don’t feel pressured to “do something” with your poem. Not all poems need to be shared and edited. Poetry doesn’t have to be “good,” either—it can simply be a statement of emotions by the poet, for the poet. Publishing is an admirable goal, but also, give yourself permission to write bad poems, unedited poems, abstract poems, and poems with an audience of one. Write for yourself—editing is for the other readers.

How to Write a Poem: Different Approaches and Philosophies

Poetry is the oldest literary form, pre-dating prose, theater, and the written word itself. As such, there are many different schools of thought when it comes to writing poetry. You might be wondering how to write a poem through different methods and approaches: here’s four philosophies to get you started.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Emotion

If you asked a Romantic Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the spontaneous emotion of the soul.

The Romantic Era viewed poetry as an extension of human emotion—a way of perceiving the world through unbridled creativity, centered around the human soul. While many Romantic poets used traditional forms in their poetry, the Romantics weren’t afraid to break from tradition, either.

To write like a Romantic, feel—and feel intensely. The words will follow the emotions, as long as a blank page sits in front of you.

How to Write a Poem: Poetry as Stream of Consciousness

If you asked a Modernist poet, “What is poetry?” they would tell you that poetry is the search for complex truths.

Modernist Poets were keen on the use of poetry as a window into the mind. A common technique of the time was “Stream of Consciousness,” which is unfiltered writing that flows directly from the poet’s inner dialogue. By tapping into one’s subconscious, the poet might uncover deeper truths and emotions they were initially unaware of.

Depending on who you are as a writer, Stream of Consciousness can be tricky to master, but this guide covers the basics of how to write using this technique.

How to Write a Poem: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of documenting the mind, rather than trying to control or edit what it produces. This practice was popularized by the Beat Poets , who in turn were inspired by Eastern philosophies and Buddhist teachings. If you asked a Beat Poet “what is poetry?”, they would tell you that poetry is the human consciousness, unadulterated.

To learn more about the art of leaving your mind alone , take a look at our guide on Mindfulness, from instructor Marc Olmsted.


How to Write a Poem: Poem as Camera Lens

Many contemporary poets use poetry as a camera lens, documenting global events and commenting on both politics and injustice. If you find yourself itching to write poetry about the modern day, press your thumb against the pulse of the world and write what you feel.

Additionally, check out these two essays by Electric Literature on the politics of poetry:

  • What Can Poetry Do That Politics Can’t?
  • Why All Poems Are Political (TL;DR: Poetry is an urgent expression of freedom).

Okay, I Know How to Write a Good Poem. What Next?

Poetry, like all art forms, takes practice and dedication. You might write a poem you enjoy now, and think it’s awfully written 3 years from now; you might also write some of your best work after reading this guide. Poetry is fickle, but the pen lasts forever, so write poems as long as you can!

Once you understand how to write a poem, and after you’ve drafted some pieces that you’re proud of and ready to share, here are some next steps you can take.

Publish in Literary Journals

Want to see your name in print? These literary journals house some of the best poetry being published today.


Assemble and Publish a Manuscript

A poem can tell a story. So can a collection of poems. If you’re interested in publishing a poetry book, learn how to compose and format one here:


Join a Writing Community

writers.com is an online community of writers, and we’d love it if you shared your poetry with us! Join us on Facebook and check out our upcoming poetry courses .

Poetry doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists to educate and uplift society. The world is waiting for your voice, so find a group and share your work!

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Sean Glatch


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super useful! love these articles 💕

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Indeed, very helpful, consize. I could not say more than thank you.

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I’ve never read a better guide on how to write poetry step by step. Not only does it give great tips, but it also provides helpful links! Thank you so much.

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Thank you very much, Hamna! I’m so glad this guide was helpful for you.

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Very inspirational and marvelous tips

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I have never gone through the steps of writing poetry like this, I will take a closer look at your post.

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Beautiful! Thank you! I’m really excited to try journaling as a starter step x

[…] How to Write a Poem, Step-by-Step […]

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This is really helpful, thanks so much

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Extremely thorough! Nice job.

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Thank you so much for sharing your awesome tips for beginner writers!

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People must reboot this and bookmark it. Your writing and explanation is detailed to the core. Thanks for helping me understand different poetic elements. While reading, actually, I start thinking about how my husband construct his songs and why other artists lack that organization (or desire to be better). Anyway, this gave me clarity.

I’m starting to use poetry as an outlet for my blogs, but I also have to keep in mind I’m transitioning from a blogger to a poetic sweet kitty potato (ha). It’s a unique transition, but I’m so used to writing a lot, it’s strange to see an open blog post with a lot of lines and few paragraphs.

Anyway, thanks again!

I’m happy this article was so helpful, Eternity! Thanks for commenting, and best of luck with your poetry blog.

Yours in verse, Sean

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One of the best articles I read on how to write poems. And it is totally step by step process which is easy to read and understand.

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Thanks for the step step explanation in how to write poems it’s a very helpful to me and also for everyone one. THANKYOU

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Totally detailed and in a simple language told the best way how to write poems. It is a guide that one should read and follow. It gives the detailed guidance about how to write poems. One of the best articles written on how to write poems.

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what a guidance thank you so much now i can write a poem thank you again again and again

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The most inspirational and informative article I have ever read in the 21st century.It gives the most relevent,practical, comprehensive and effective insights and guides to aspiring writers.

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Thank you so much. This is so useful to me a poetry

[…] Write a short story/poem (Here are some tips) […]

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It was very helpful and am willing to try it out for my writing Thanks ❤️

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Absolutely constructive, direct, and so useful as I’m striving to develop a recent piece. Thank you!

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How to Write a Poem: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lindsay Kramer

Poetry is . . . song lyrics without the music? Writing that rhymes? A bunch of comparisons and abstract imagery that feels like a code for the reader to decipher?

The answer to all of the above is yes, but poetry encompasses much more. Poetry is a broad literary category that covers everything from bawdy limericks to unforgettable song lyrics to the sentimental couplets inside greeting cards. Poetry’s lack of rules can make it feel hard to define but is also what makes poetry enjoyable for so many to write. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to write a poem, read on. Writing poetry doesn’t have to be daunting—we’re going to demystify the process and walk you through it, one step at a time.  

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What is a poem?

A poem is a singular piece of poetry. 

Poems don’t have to rhyme; they don’t have to fit any specific format; and they don’t have to use any specific vocabulary or be about any specific topic. But here’s what they do have to do: use words artistically by employing figurative language . With a poem, the form is as important as the function—perhaps even more so.

In contrast, prose is writing that follows the standard sentence and paragraph structure. Prose, while it takes many different forms and tones, largely mimics human speech patterns. 

The purpose of a poem

Poetry expresses emotions and conveys ideas, but that’s not all it can do. Poets tell stories, teach lessons, and even communicate hidden messages through poetry. When you listen to music with lyrics, you’re listening to poetry. 

When you’re writing poetry, keep your goal in mind. Are you writing to evoke emotion? To perform your poem at an open mic night? To get a good grade on your assignment? Although there aren’t any hard and fast rules for writing poetry, there are some fundamental guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • Show, don’t tell. The goal is to provoke an emotion in the reader.
  • Less can be more. While it’s perfectly acceptable to write long, flowery verse, using simple, concise language is also powerful. Word choice and poem length are up to you. 
  • It’s OK to break grammatical rules when doing so helps you express yourself.

Elements of poetry

The key elements that distinguish poetry from other kinds of literature include sound, rhythm, rhyme, and format. The first three of these are apparent when you hear poetry read aloud. The last is most obvious when you read poetry.

One thing poetry has in common with other kinds of literature is its use of literary devices. Poems, like other kinds of creative writing , often make use of allegories and other kinds of figurative language to communicate themes. 

In many cases, poetry is most impactful when it’s listened to rather than read. With this in mind, poets often create sound, whether to be pleasing, jarring, or simply highlight key phrases or images through words. Read this short poem “The Cold Wind Blows” by Kelly Roper aloud and listen to the sounds the letters and words make: 

Who knows why the cold wind blows

Or where it goes, or what it knows.

It only flows in passionate throes

Until it finally slows and settles in repose.

Do you hear the repeated “ose” sound and how it mimics the sound of wind gusts? Poets create sound in a variety of ways, like alliteration , assonance, and consonance. 

Poetry has rhythm. That’s what often makes it so attractive to set to music. 

A poem’s rhythmic structure is known as its meter . Meter refers to:

  • The number of syllables in each line
  • The stressed and unstressed syllables in each line 

These syllables are grouped together to form feet , units that make up a line of poetry. A foot is generally two or three syllables, and each combination of two or three stressed and unstressed syllables has a unique name. 

You probably recognize the term iambic pentameter from English class. It comes up a lot in high school English classes because Shakespeare wrote in it frequently, and Shakespeare is frequently read in high school English classes. An iamb is a two-syllable foot where the second syllable is stressed: duh-DUH. Pentameter means that each line in the poem has five feet or ten total syllables. 

Iambic pentameter is just one of the many kinds of rhythm a poem can have . Other types of feet include the trochee , two syllables where the first syllable is stressed (DUH-duh), and dactyl , three syllables where only the first is stressed (DUH-duh-duh). When a poem only has one foot per line, it’s in monometer; when there are two feet per line, it’s in dimeter; and so on. 

Stressed and unstressed syllables aren’t the only way you can create rhythm in your poetry. Another technique poets frequently embrace is repetition. Repetition underscores the words being repeated, which could be a phrase or a single word. In her poem “Still I Rise”, Maya Angelou repeats the phrase “I rise” with increasing frequency as the poem progresses, changing it from “I’ll rise” in the first stanzas to a repeated “I rise” toward the ending, to emphasize her unbreakable spirit:

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

With poetry, rhythm and rhyme go hand in hand. Both create musicality in the poem, making it pleasurable to recite and listen to. 

Rhymes can appear anywhere in a poem, not just at the ends of alternating lines. Take a look at all the places Lewis Carrol uses rhymes in this excerpt from “Jabberwocky”:

One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.

When you’re reading poetry, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is its formatting. Simply put, poems just aren’t formatted the same way as prose. Sentences end in weird places, there are blank lines between the different sections, one word might have a line all to itself, or the words might be arranged in a shape that makes a picture on the page. 

One of poetry’s defining characteristics is that it doesn’t adhere to the same formatting that prose does. You (most likely) won’t find sentences and paragraphs in poetry. Instead, you’ll find stanzas, lines, and line breaks. 

A stanza is the poetic equivalent of a paragraph. It’s a group of lines that (usually) adheres to a specific rhyme or rhythm pattern. For example, a quatrain is a four-line stanza in which the second and fourth lines rhyme. An isometric stanza is a stanza of any length where each line has the same meter. 

Literary devices

Literary devices aren’t limited to prose—many, perhaps even most, poems incorporate one or more literary devices. Literary devices commonly found in poetry include:

  • Figurative language
  • Juxtaposition
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Personification

Often, poets use literary devices in conjunction with other poetic elements. One famous example of a poem that layers multiple literary devices is Margaret Atwood’s “[you fit into me]”:

you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

In the first stanza, Atwood uses a simile, a type of figurative language , to create an initially pleasant image: a hook and eye closure, a small metal hook that neatly fits into an appropriately sized metal loop to fasten clothing. Then the second stanza juxtaposes this with a jarring image: a fish hook plunged into an eyeball. These images together, formatted as two stark sections separated by a break, express the poem’s uncomfortable, visceral theme. 

Types of poetic forms

There are many different types of poems. Some have very strict style rules, while others are classified according to the topics they cover rather than their structure. When you’re writing poetry, keep the form you’re writing in mind as you brainstorm—with forms that involve rhyming or require a specific number of syllables, you’ll probably want to jot down a list of go-to words that fit into your chosen format before you start writing. 

A haiku is a three-line poem that always fits this format: The first and third lines contain five syllables and the second line contains seven syllables. 

A limerick is a five-line poem that follows a strict AABBA rhyme scheme. Though they often discuss humorous subjects, this isn’t a requirement—the only requirement is that it fits this precise rhyme pattern.  

A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that was often used by Shakespeare and Petrarch. Although a sonnet’s exact rhyme scheme varies from poem to poem, each sonnet has some kind of consistent rhyme pattern.

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Blank verse

Blank verse poetry is written in a specific meter that, as a rule, does not rhyme. Although this specific meter is often iambic pentameter, that isn’t a requirement for blank verse poetry—the only requirements are that it does not stray from its meter (whichever meter the poet chose) and that it doesn’t rhyme. 

With free verse, anything goes. When you read a poem that doesn’t appear to fit any specific format, you’re reading free verse poetry. 

An ode is a poem that celebrates a person, an event, or even an object. An ode uses vivid language to describe its subject. 

Elegies are poems that, like odes, pay tribute to specific subjects. However, rather than being purely celebratory, an elegy is generally a reflection on its subject’s death and includes themes of mourning and loss. 

How to write a poem

Writing a poem isn’t the same as writing a short story , an essay, an email, or any other type of writing. While each of these other kinds of writing requires a unique approach, they all have one thing in common: they’re prose. 

Poetry isn’t prose, as we explained above. And that’s what makes it feel like the wildcard of creative writing. 

With poetry, going through the standard writing process can feel like a creativity killer. That doesn’t mean you should just sit down, scrawl out a poem, and call it a day. On the contrary, when you’re writing poetry, you might find that skipping one or more stages in the traditional writing process will help you be more creative. 

Of course, you might also find that following the writing process helps you explore and organize your thoughts before you start to write. The usefulness of starting with brainstorming, then moving onto outlining, then starting to write only once you’ve got an outline varies from poet to poet and even poem to poem. Sometimes, inspiration strikes and the words just start flowing out of your mind and onto the page. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started and write your next poem:

1 Decide what you want to write about

Unless you’ve been assigned to write a poem about a specific topic, the first step in writing a poem is determining a topic to write about. Look for inspiration around you, perhaps in nature, your community, current events, or the people in your life. Take notes on how different things make you feel and what they drive you to think about. 

Freewriting can be a helpful exercise when you’re searching for the perfect topic to write a poem about. You can use a writing prompt as a jumping-off point for your freewriting or just jot down a word (or a few) and see where your mind guides your pen, stream-of-consciousness style. 

Once you have a topic and a theme in mind, the next step is to determine which kind of poem is the best way to express it. 

2 Determine the best format for your topic

Your poem doesn’t have to adhere to any specific format, but choosing a format and sticking to it might be the way to go. By opting to write in a particular format, like a sonnet or a limerick, for example, you constrain your writing and force yourself to find a way to creatively express your theme while fitting that format’s constraints. 

3 Explore words, rhymes, and rhythm

If you’ve decided to write your poem in a specific format, read other poems in that format to give yourself a template to follow. A specific rhythm or rhyme scheme can highlight themes and clever wordplay in your poem. For example, you might determine that a limerick is the most effective way to make your readers laugh at your satirical poem because the format feels like it has a built-in punchline. 

4 Write the poem

Now it’s time to write! Whether you opt for using a pen and paper, typing on a laptop, or tapping on your phone, give yourself some uninterrupted time to focus on writing the poem. 

Don’t expect to write something perfect on the first try. Instead, focus on getting your words out. Even if your lines don’t rhyme perfectly or you’ve got too many or too few syllables to fit the format you chose, write what’s on your mind. The theme your words are expressing is more important than the specific words themselves, and you can always revise your poem later. 

5 Edit what you’ve written

Once you have a draft, the next step is to edit your poem. You don’t have to jump right from writing to editing—in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Give yourself a break. Then in a day or two, come back to your poem with a critical eye. By that, we mean read it again, taking note of any spots where you can replace a word with a stronger one, tighten your rhythm, make your imagery more vivid, or even remove words or stanzas that aren’t adding anything to the poem. When you do this, you might realize that the poem would work better in another form or that your poem would be stronger if it rhymed . . . or if it didn’t. 

Reading your poem aloud can help you edit it more effectively because when you listen to it, you’ll hear the poem’s rhythm and quickly notice any spots where the rhythm doesn’t quite work. This can help you move words around or even completely restructure the poem. 

If you’re comfortable sharing your poetry with others, have somebody else read your poem and give you feedback on ways you can improve it. You might even want to join a writing group, online or off, where you can workshop your poetry with other writers. Often, other people can spot strengths and weaknesses in your work that you might not have noticed because your perspective is too close to the poem. A more distanced perspective, as well as perspectives from readers and writers of different backgrounds, can offer up ways to make your writing stronger that you hadn’t considered before. 

Give your writing extra spark

When you’re writing poetry, you’re allowed to break the rules. In fact, you’re encouraged to break the rules. Breaking the rules artistically is one of the key differences between writing poetry and writing prose. 

But making mistakes isn’t the same as breaking the rules. Mistakes in your poetry, like misspelled words and incorrect punctuation, can distract readers from what you’re communicating through your words. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Grammarly catches any mistakes or tone inconsistencies in your work and suggests ways you can make your writing stronger. The outcome: writing with confidence and getting better at breaking the rules on purpose.

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Ways to Read, Write, Teach and Learn Poetry With The New York Times

Here are 30 ideas for helping your students appreciate poetry — and experiment with it themselves.

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‘Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars)’ by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars. Most mornings, I would be more or less insane. The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories. The news would pour out of various devices, interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen. I would call my friends on other devices. They would be more or less mad for similar reasons. Slowly, I would get to pen and paper, make my poems for others unseen and unborn. In the day, I would be reminded of those men and women, brave, setting up signals across vast distances, considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values. As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened, we would try to imagine them, try to find each other, to construct peace, to make love, to reconcile waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other, ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means to reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves, to let go the means, to wake. I lived in the first century of these wars.

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By Katherine Schulten

“Thank goodness for poetry,” writes Sindha Agha, the video artist who made the piece at the top of this post. “A poem is a timeless place, an immaterial plot of land where we can gather across generations to breathe and feel, deeply and safely.”

We agree, and, as The New York Times keeps publishing news and features about poetry and poets , it is both our job and our joy to help people teach and learn with the bounty — during April, which is National Poetry Month, or anytime.

Below, you’ll find an updated and improved version of a list we’ve been keeping for years . We hope it will help even the most verse averse find something to enjoy.

Here Are Some Ideas For...

Reading, teaching and appreciating poetry, writing and playing with poetry, connecting poetry to the news.

Find a Favorite Poem

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/books/review/whats-your-favorite-poem.html">Related Article</a>

This Book Review piece asks well-known people like John Green, Shonda Rhimes, Alan Cumming and Stephen King, “What’s Your Favorite Poem?” and links to answers including Yeats and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Ask your students to find a favorite poem and write or talk about what it means to them. For more inspiration, they might visit The Favorite Poem Project and watch videos like this one .


The #TeachLivingPoets movement is about “complicating the canon and empowering students through poetry.” You can follow along or contribute on Twitter , and, as you’ll see throughout this post, you can also find all kinds of work by living poets in The Times.

One great place to start is the weekly Poem column in The New York Times Magazine. There you’ll find accessible work by contemporary poets, all of it chosen and briefly introduced by a poet-editor like Reginald Dwayne Betts or Naomi Shihab Nye who gives the piece a bit of context. In this lesson plan, Reading Poetry With the Poem Column, we suggest nine pieces to begin with, and many ways to work with them.

Start a Meeting or a Class With a Poem

Did you know that the journalists who work for The Times’s National desk often started their meetings with a poem ? Here’s why, according to a 2020 piece written by their former editor:

When the National desk gets together to discuss stories, it can be a grim half-hour. We dissect natural disasters. We reconstruct mass shootings. We delve into political scandals and all manner of domestic tumult. Recently, though, we added a new feature to our morning meetings aimed at inspiring us and boosting our creativity before we embark on another long day of editing the news. We read a poem. I got the idea from an unlikely source: my son’s high school English teacher, Anne Baney. During parent-teacher night, she explained how she reads a poem at the beginning of every class from “Poetry 180,” an anthology of contemporary poems compiled by Billy Collins, the former poet laureate of the United States. The room turns quiet when she reads, she told us. If she ever forgets to start off the day with a poem, her students remind her. They like it. And, it turns out, so do we.

We borrowed the story above as an excuse to ask students back in 2020, “ What Role Does Poetry Play in Your Life? ” Nearly 200 answered, telling us about why and when they turn to poetry, how it inspires or helps them, and what verse they love best. Your students might add their own thoughts since the post is still open to comments.

What poem could start your next class or meeting? Brett Vogelsinger has some ideas. Mr. Vogelsinger is a teacher in Pennsylvania who begins every class all year long with a poem, usually having his students focus on one small aspect of it before moving on. For example, here is how he has taught Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening .” This idea and the ideas of teacher-contributors from all over can be found on his Go Poems blog , which, for six years now, has published brief strategies for sharing a #poemaday in classrooms during National Poetry Month.

Navigate Difficult Times

‘Democracy’ by Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come today, this year, nor ever through compromise and fear. I have as much right as the other fellow has to stand on my two feet, and own the land. I tire so of hearing people say let things take their course, tomorrow is another day. I do not need my freedom when I’m dead. I cannot live on tomorrows bread. Freedom is a strong seed, planted in a great need. I live here too. I want freedom just as you.

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The Muriel Rukeyser poem at the top of this post comes from a 2021 feature in which Ms. Agha, the video artist, and several contemporary American poets created videos of verses that helped them “puzzle through their feelings” about the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though the Rukeyser poem was written in 1968, and the Langston Hughes poem above was first published in 1949, they both “reach across time and circumstance” to speak to us today.

Watch any or all of the three videos — the two embedded in this post, plus “Barracks Home” by Toyo Suyemoto — and ask your students to think about how they connect with our struggles today.

Then, skim the comments from readers . The piece asked, “What’s a line from a poem that has helped you navigate a difficult time, or encapsulates your outlook on life?” Over 200 people shared their thoughts. What new poetry can your students discover this way? And, what lines from poetry have helped them navigate difficult times? If they are stuck for an answer, another Times feature from 2020 asked 16 poets what poem they turn to in times of strife . In it you’ll find links to verse by Dante, Robert Hayden, Audre Lorde and more.

And if your students are inspired by the video poems we’ve embedded here, you might go a step further and challenge them to make their own.

To go even deeper with this theme, please see the section below about “Connecting Poetry and the News.”

Read Closely

Do you teach “Musée des Beaux Arts,” the W.H. Auden poem based on the Bruegel painting shown above? The Times has created a rich interactive , part of its Close Read series , in which the poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert helps readers literally and figuratively “zoom in” on specific details of both the poem and the painting to learn more.

To go along with it, we’ve published a lesson plan that prepares students for the experience via their own close readings, then suggests taking the learning further by using Ms. Gabbert’s work as a mentor text for analyses of the poem or painting of their choice — or for writing their own ekphrastic poem s.

And if they would like to experience another poem this way, invite them to follow this interactive from the Close Read series that explores Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.”

Stop Scrolling, Start Paying Attention

Here’s an idea from the writer Elliott Holt, as described in her piece “ My Secret Weapon Against the Attention Economy ”:

On the first day of every month, I pick a poem, and then I read that poem every day that month. I can’t take credit for this idea; my friend Jenny suggested it to me years ago, after someone proposed it to her. That first year, I joined Jenny in reading Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man” in January. Repetition led to revelation: Every day, I noticed new things in the text. By the end of the month, I knew the poem by heart.

She wrote, “Revisiting the same poem every day is the antithesis of the attention economy; instead of scrolling along the surface, I’m diving deep beneath it.”

What would your students choose as their “poems of the month”? Could you make time during every class period this month for them to revisit their poems and dive deeper? Do you think they would find it meditative — a relief from our noisy world — the way this writer did?

Recite, Memory

Since ancient times, humans have memorized and recited poetry, writes Molly Worthen in this Opinion essay :

Before the invention of writing, the only way to possess a poem was to memorize it. Long after scrolls and folios supplemented our brains, court poets, priests and wandering bards recited poetry in order to entertain and connect with the divine. For individuals, a poem learned by heart could be a lifeline — to grapple with overwhelming emotion or preserve sanity amid the brutalities of prison and warfare.

She suggests that, though the practice is currently out of fashion in schools, everyone should memorize a bit of poetry as “a lifeline — to grapple with overwhelming emotion or preserve sanity,” as well as to “find your kindred spirits across the centuries.”

If your students tried the exercise above, in which they read the same poem daily for a month, they may have already accidentally memorized a poem that is meaningful to them. But if not, what verse would they choose that would provide a “lifeline” or connect them to a “kindred spirit”?

Dismantle the Barriers Between Rap and Poetry

If your students love rap, there is no better article for them to read than this 2021 Magazine piece about what rap and poetry have in common. Here is how the writer, Adam Bradley, introduces the idea:

Today, a new generation of artists, both rappers and poets, are consciously forging closer kinship between the genres. They draw from a common toolbox of language, use the same social media platforms to reach their audiences and respond to the same economic and political provocations to create public art. In doing so, rappers and the poets who claim affinity with them are resuscitating a body of literary practices mostly neglected in poetry during the 20th century. These ghost appendages of form — repetition, patterned rhythm and, above all, rhyme — thrive in song, especially in rap.

Invite your students to annotate as they read this rich analysis. Then, to go even deeper, you might have them check out “ American Poets on the Hip-Hop Songs That Most Inspire Them ,” a companion piece in which The Times asked some of the poets mentioned in the article about the hip-hop songs they return to again and again. (Please preview, however, to make sure the songs are appropriate for your students.)

Finally, you might try having your students analyze some of their own favorite raps (including their own or those of other students) for their poetic elements, using either the short appreciations by the poets or paragraphs from the longer analysis by Mr. Bradley as mentor texts.

Ask, “What’s Going On in This Poem?”

You may already be familiar with our popular, weekly “What’s Going On in This Picture” photojournalism exercise . Well, in 2016 we experimented with a live, moderated “What’s Going On in This Poem?” discussion , using the same three questions we apply weekly to photos. This time, though, we asked participants about “ Taking It Home to Jerome ,” a poem from the Magazine’s weekly column :

What’s going on in this poem?

What do you see, read or hear that makes you say that?

What more can you find?

Because the discussion took place on our old site, you can no longer see the comments, but trust us when we say that those three simple questions opened up a world of possibility for students as they built on one another’s responses.

Try it yourself. We’ve suggested the same exercise in our lesson plan focused on W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” but, of course, you could use it with any piece. (And for more “quick and easy ways into a poem,” check out these methods recommended by the teacher and writer Susan Barber.)

Give a Poem to a Friend

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“Poetry prevents everybody from feeling lonely,” Nikki Giovanni says in this video.

“If I had a friend in the hospital, I would read a poem,” she said. “But then, friends who get married, they read a poem. And then friends who die say, ‘Read this poem at my funeral.’” She added: “Poetry is there with us, a part of us. Poetry is something we carry in our hearts.”

Challenge students to think about someone they know who might need the gift of a poem. What poem would they give this person, and why?

Connect Across Cultures

A 2022 article, “ ‘Why Was I Born a Girl?’ An Afghan Poem Inspires U.S. Students ,” tells the story of Fariba Mohebi, an 11th grader who learned that most Afghan girls would not join boys returning to school under Taliban rule. In her despair, she wrote a poem called “Why Was I Born a Girl?”

Here is what happened next:

Fariba’s poem found its way to Timothy Stiven’s A.P. history class at Canyon Crest Academy, a public high school 8,000 miles away in San Diego. It was relayed via Zoom calls between Canyon Crest and Mawoud, a tutoring center Fariba now attends in Kabul, where girls sit in class with boys and men teach girls — testing the limits of Taliban forbearance. Periodic Zoom sessions between the Afghan and American students have opened a window to the world for girls at Mawoud, hardening their resolve to pursue their educations against daunting odds. The calls have also revealed the harsh contours of Taliban rule for the California students, opening their eyes to the repression of fellow high schoolers halfway around the world.

Our related lesson plan invites your students to learn more and respond. They might pair it with the 2012 piece “ Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry, ” to understand the power of verse in a place where poetry has “long been a form of rebellion for Afghan women, belying the notion that they are submissive or defeated.”

Celebrate the Work of Amanda Gorman

When Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history , read “The Hill We Climb,” and “ wove history and the future into a stirring melody ,” for many it was the highlight of President Biden’s inauguration, and educators everywhere dropped what they were doing to teach the poem.

But, as Ms. Gorman later revealed, it almost didn’t happen:

The truth is I almost declined to be the inaugural poet. Why? I was terrified.

Read the poem — perhaps with the help of our companion lesson plan that draws from a range of related pieces to introduce the poet and put “The Hill We Climb” in context — then read “ Why I Almost Didn’t Read My Poem at the Inauguration ” to learn why Ms. Gorman thinks of fear “not as cowardice but as a call forward, a summons to fight for what we hold dear.”

What messages does she have for all of us? Which feel most resonant for you and your students in this moment?

Or, Find Verse by 10 More Young Black Artists Who Are Responding to the Moment

In October 2020, The Times spotlighted 10 young artists whose work was responding to “this moment in America.” In “ Listen Up: These Young Black Poets Have a Message ,” you can read, and hear, powerful verse about fire season, protests, the coronavirus, God, sexuality, hope and more. And you can find ideas for teaching with the collection in our related lesson plan .

Discover #poetsofinstagram

Do your students know Rupi Kaur? In December 2021, The Times reported that her debut poetry collection, “Milk and Honey,” had been on the best-seller list for 190 weeks. Three years earlier, Carl Wilson, a Times critic, wrote about the “Instapoet” phenomenon in “ Why Rupi Kaur and Her Peers Are the Most Popular Poets in the World ”:

Kaur established herself not in poetry journals but on platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram (where she has 1.8 million followers, and posts glamorous shots of herself). And she’s only the biggest of several popular “Instapoets” who have graduated from being retweeted by Kardashians to publishing books, including Tyler Knott Gregson, Lang Leav, Amanda Lovelace and the pseudonymous Atticus. Collectively, to differing degrees, they lean to aphoristic, confessional and inspirational verse, often brief enough to fit into a tweet, or to be overlaid on a photo or an illustration like Kaur’s own eye-catching line drawings — an outline of a pregnant woman’s belly, say, with the legend, “we are all born / so beautiful / the greatest tragedy is / being convinced we are not - rupi kaur.” There’s a parody meme on Twitter to break any banal statement or quote into short lowercase lines and sign it “- rupi kaur.”

What do your students think of Rupi Kaur’s work? It might be a good jumping-off point for asking questions like: Is this “greeting-card verse” or “real” poetry? What is “real poetry” anyway? Why? Do they follow other #poetsofinstagram ? Are Instagram and other social media “saving” poetry ? Would they ever publish their own verse there?

Learn How Poetry Can Act as “a Way of Being in the World That Wasn’t Made for Us”

The Opinion section’s Disability column explores the lives of people living with disabilities. In 2018 the column published a collection of new work from 10 poets with disabilities , each illustrated with a drawing like the one you see above.

Here is how the poet Jennifer Bartlett introduces the collection:

In my view, poetry is the most organic art form; it does not require money or physical labor. A poem doesn’t need to follow any particular grammar rules; it is the record of one’s own experience of the singular mind and/or body, a singular voice. For many of us, it is also a way of “being in the world,” a world that in many ways was not made for us and actively resists our participation. Through poetry, we are able to remake and reinvent that world.

Do these poems resonate with your students? How well do they think the art matches each piece? And what other art in any genre, past or present, can they think of that might fit Ms. Bartlett’s description — expression that is a way of “remaking” a world that might have been uncomfortable for, or even hostile to, the artist?

Ask: What Voices Are Missing?

Though poetry may be more popular than ever , there are still voices missing, especially in the mainstream world of published verse.

In a Saturday Profile , Vivian Wang writes about Chen Nianxi, one new artist who has risen to fame as a “migrant worker poet,” adding a perspective from China’s often-invisible laborers to the cultural conversation.

For more than 15 years, he labored in gold, iron and zinc mines across China, detonating explosives by day and scrawling poems on the backs of newspapers at night. Now, though, he has published two critically acclaimed books of poetry, and sometimes feels like an outsider in the glamorous world he has entered.

Whose voices are missing from the poetry you teach or your students read? How can you invite a greater range of work into your classroom?

Help Us Create an April 2022 Collaborative Poem on “Small Kindnesses”

Update, April, 2022: More than 1,300 students responded to this invitation, and you can now read ‘Small Kindnesses’: A Collaborative Poem by Teenagers From Around the World .

What minor, gracious things do others do for you that make you happy?

Invite your students to answer this question via our Student Opinion forum . With help from the poet Danusha Laméris, we will choose lines from their responses to be part of a collaborative poem we’ll publish sometime in late April or early May.

The inspiration for this collaborative piece comes from Ms. Laméris’s poem “ Small Kindnesses ,” which appeared in The Times Magazine in 2019. As our forum suggests , your students might read the poem first, then think about how they might contribute their own lines to a work on the same theme.

Collaborative poetry is, of course, an old tradition with which many teachers are familiar. You might introduce the idea to your students by sharing with them the game “ Exquisite Corpse ,” which the French Surrealists invented in the 1930s, or the epic collective poem “ La Familia ” that Juan Felipe Herrera, the U.S. poet laureate from 2015 to 2017, created with lines submitted by people all over the country. Or you might invite them to listen to or read some collective poetry produced by National Public Radio, where Kwame Alexander, N.P.R.’s “poet in residence,” has created crowdsourced poems responding to the coronavirus pandemic , the murder of Ahmaud Arbery , anti-Asian hate and more .

Make Poetry From the Print Paper

4 Poems You Can Create From Your Newspaper

Natalie Proulx

April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate by making verse from your print newspaper.

Here are four ideas from the poets Leah Umansky and E. Kristin Anderson →

poetry writing design

A golden shovel poem. Find a headline in the newspaper. Then, write a poem in which each line ends with a word from the headline.

Here’s how to make a golden shovel poem.

poetry writing design

A found poem. “​​The hardest part about writing a poem is choosing the right words,” writes Leah. Try a found poem, where you cut and paste words from the newspaper into a poem.

Here’s how to make a found poem.

poetry writing design

A cento poem. Cento is a Latin word, meaning “patchwork.” In this type of poetry, you’ll patch together lines from articles, headlines, quotes or even photo captions to create a poem of your own.

Here’s how to make a cento poem.

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An erasure poem, also known as a blackout poem. Find an article in your newspaper. Then, eliminate all the words around a poem you’ve found within the text. You can use a marker, Wite-Out or even glitter.

Here’s how to make an erasure poem.

Find more ideas for teaching and learning about poetry on The Learning Network :

poetry writing design

Check out the suggestions above for ways to get playful with the print New York Times or any other newspaper. For more detail on two of the ideas — blackout poetry and found poetry — see the next two ideas below.

Create a Blackout Poem

One April, The Times challenged readers to create so-called blackout poems by redacting words from articles via a fun online tool .

In 2019, we challenged students to do it, too, for our 10th Annual Spring Poetry Contest for Teenagers . The winners are wonderful . Have a look, then try it at home with The Times or any other print source that’s around.

Or “Find” Poems Instead

From 2010 to 2018, we ran a Found Poem Contest every April, in which we challenged teenagers to use any article they liked from any edition of The Times, past or present, to create verse simply by rearranging the words.

Every year, teachers across the curriculum participated. We’ve had science-themed winners on the cosmos and fruit flies ; current-event-focused finalists on topics like the Syrian refugee crisis and the Boston Marathon bombing ; and history-steeped verse that used archival reporting on events like the sinking of the Titanic and World War II .

To inspire your students to create their own, have them look through the work of some past winners . For instance, here is “Amy,” by Epiphany Jones, which was created with some words “found” in a 2011 obituary, “ Amy Winehouse, British Soul Singer With a Troubled Life, Dies at 27 ,” and a 2007 article on the singer, “ Disillusioned Diva With Glimmers of Soul .”

Match a Picture and a Poem

The Times has often posed this challenge to poets and photographers. For instance, the image above is part of a series by Zora J. Murff, who took the photos in the Near North Side neighborhood of Omaha. They illustrate a poem by Adrian Matejka called “If You’re Tired Then Go Take a Nap” and can be found in this collection of five more poems and the photos they inspired.

T Magazine did something similar for many years, pairing a never-before-published poem with a newly commissioned work of contemporary art — bringing aesthetic life to the written word.

Invite your students to look at these examples and then make their own, perhaps working in pairs or even across English and art classrooms. They can write their own new poems and let them inspire artwork, or they can choose published poems and do the same.

Write Poetry About a Place — or Bring Poetry Somewhere Unexpected

Many teachers will already know the George Ella Lyon list-form poem “Where I’m From.” As Mr. Lyon writes, “People have used it at their family reunions, teachers have used it with kids all over the United States, in Ecuador and China; they have taken it to girls in juvenile detention, to men in prison for life, and to refugees in a camp in the Sudan.”

To take the notion of writing poems about place further, you might show students how your local area has inspired work from various artists, the way Hartford, Conn., inspired Wallace Stevens . Then, invite them to write poems about a place they remember from their own lives, or give them a common place to consider, like the school or the town park. Finally, plan a site-specific celebration, like a reading or poetry walk in the area, or poems projected on structures, written in chalk on sidewalks or otherwise displayed. You might also collaborate with dancers, musicians and visual artists to perform or present their related work at the event.

Or post poems in unexpected places the way David Ellis does with his “ driftwood haiku ”:

A German shepherd tied to a rusted gate, blackfish simmered with tomatoes on a grill, a scuba diver emerging from the waters of the Bronx: These are the scenes that inspire the poetry of Mr. Ellis, the self-proclaimed Bard of City Island. He composes haiku on seashells and driftwood about the daily serendipity of the mile-and-a-half-long island, leaving them around the neighborhood for people, like the woman who reads his poems every morning when she walks her dog. His works, locals say, add unexpected reflection to their day. Last January, Mr. Ellis self-published a book of haiku called “ Beach in City Island ,” and he is now working on a children’s edition, which his [6-year-old] son is illustrating.

For example, students might leave poems around your school — perhaps inspired by these subway poets . Ask students to choose poems they have studied in school or elsewhere (or their own original works), then print and tape them to cafeteria tables, bathroom mirrors or hallway walls, or even write them in chalk on the sidewalks. How do people respond? What can they learn from that?

You might show students the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project in St. Paul or the Poetry in Motion program in the New York City subway for an idea of what kinds of poems work well as public pieces.

Write Verse to Cope With the Undead

Read about some anthologies of poetry that explore a coming zombie apocalypse and have students create their own undead-inspired verse, whether via limerick, haiku or sonnets.

Are zombies metaphors for things like capitalism or racism? See what some in the article contend, then find evidence in popular culture for or against that interpretation.

Revise to Envision Other Possibilities

To persuade your students to write, rewrite, edit and polish their work to make it ready for the world to see, share with them “ Poetry in Action .” In this feature, six contemporary writers, including Billy Collins and Jenny Zhang, share images of their own poems in progress and discuss the revisions they made. Above, you can see “Ceremonial,” by Eduardo C. Corral. Here is what he says about his process:

This is a draft of my poem “Ceremonial,” which I wrote in 2012. Revision is my favorite part of writing. Revision helps me envision other possibilities for the language on the page. I know a poem is done when I can identify three distinct pleasures: linguistic, emotional and intellectual. I wanted to privilege emotional pleasure in this poem, though. The annotations reflect that desire.

Match Poetry With Nonfiction

From 2010 to 2016, we ran a regular feature called Poetry Pairings. In each, we matched a poem selected by the Poetry Foundation with an article from The Times that in some way echoed, extended or challenged the poem’s words and themes.

You can find the full collection here and use our related Teaching and Learning Ideas for Any Poetry-News Pairing with any entry.

After reading a few, challenge your students to do what we did: match a poem to a piece from The Times or any other news source. How does reading them together deepen and broaden them both?

Post a Poem in Place of the News

To celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in 2016, The Times ran Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too” by itself on a full page of the print paper.

Two people who worked on the design explain why in this piece . As the art director says, “Langston Hughes’s words are so powerful, there was no need for design adornment. In this case, less proves to be more.”

If The Times were to give over another whole page to a poem right now, what should it be and why?

Consider the Role of “Verses vs. Virus”

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, The Times has featured pieces about how poetry can help us cope. In March 2020, for instance, the Opinion section featured a piece by Sarah Ruhl, “ Broadway Is Closed. Write Poems Instead ,” that discussed the power of language to heal:

During the 1590s plague, when the theaters were shut, William Shakespeare apparently chose to write poems instead. From his “Venus and Adonis,” penned while the playhouses were closed and writers were essentially quarantined, came this somewhat strange compliment: “The plague is banished by thy breath.” Should we theater people — writers, players and audiences alike — be staying home now and writing and reading poetry as a curative for the next month? Books, unlike group events, carry no germs.

Elsewhere in The Times that month, you could find a poem by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, who was working in a Boston emergency room. Called “ The Apocalypse ,” it mixed images of spring with images of “the battleground” of the virus.

In June 2020, as the pandemic continued to rage and the Black Lives Matter movement brought millions of people into the streets, the Book Review asked two prominent American poets, Claudia Rankin and Jericho Brown, to write original poems responding to “this historic moment in our country.” Here, Claudia Rankin recites her poem “ Weather. ”

And here, Jericho Brown recites “ ‘Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry’ ”:

‘Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry’

In late November 2020, The Times asked poets laureate across the country why the people in their states would be thankful, even “in a nation battered and brought low by rampant disease and division.” In this piece , you can find links to the results, which might inspire your students’ own poems of gratitude.

Finally, on our own site, we have run multimedia contests during the pandemic that invited teenagers to show us, in words and images, audio and video, what it has been like to be a teenager during this time — trapped inside, going to school over video and missing coming-of-age milestones. Take a look at the winners from 2020 and 2021 to find poems like Suhaylah Sirajul-Islam’s “okay,” Aaron Zhang”s “Winter” and more.

The pandemic has been a fact of our lives for over two years now. What do your students want to express about that, and how?

Parse Politics With Poetry

“Like virtually everything else in the Trump era, poetry has gotten sharply political these days,” The Times wrote in 2017. The article continues:

Writers are responding to this turbulent moment in the country’s history with a tsunami of poems that address issues like immigration, global warming, the Syrian refugee crisis, institutionalized racism, equal rights for transgender people, Islamophobia and health care.

Our “moment” has not become any less turbulent since then. How might your students use poetry to express their reactions to what is happening in the world today? What published poetry can they find that helps them make sense of it?

Some possibilities: reading the work of the former United States poet laureate Tracy K. Smith or listening to the podcast The Slowdown , which she hosted for two seasons before the poet Ada Limón took over.

In an essay on politics and poetry, Ms. Smith writes that political poetry has become a means of owning up to the complexity of our problems, and she introduces the reader to some poets, like Justin Phillip Reed and Evie Shockley, who are doing it well. She writes:

Poems willing to enter into this fraught space don’t merely stand on the bank calling out instructions on how or what to believe; they take us by the arm and walk us into the lake, wetting us with the muddied and the muddled, and sometimes even the holy.

Invite your students to find or create political poems that address the issues they think are important — and that do so in a way that “take us by the arm and walk us into the lake.”

Read Poetry in a Time of War

As the Russia-Ukraine war began in February, “ We Lived Happily During the War ,” by the Ukrainian American poet Ilya Kaminsky, took off on social media. In a related guest essay for the Opinion section, he writes :

Since the war began, I have received emails from journalists asking me to explain my poem “We Lived Happily During the War,” which went viral on the day Vladimir Putin’s troops began bombing my birth country. The poem was published on Poetry International in 2013, the same year the Maidan protests began in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time, was trying to lean closer to Putin and crush protests. Ukrainians rejected him; Putin stole Crimea; and the war in Donbas began.

Your students might read the essay to learn about the origins of his poem, then move on to the poem itself. Together, they might answer the question Mr. Kaminsky poses: Why do so many find poetry comforting in times of crisis? Then, challenge them to seek more poetry that offers wisdom, comfort or courage for times like ours, perhaps even creating a class anthology of their favorites.

Does Poetry Matter? And What Is It, Anyway? Discuss:

If you have come this far, and your students have read, written, performed and celebrated a range of poetry — both their own and others’ — they might be ready to debate a final question: Does poetry matter?

What evidence might your students use to make their cases?

To help, here are a few pieces from The Times that address the question:

The Opinion section’s Room for Debate column is no longer being published, but it once challenged seven experts to discuss this question , and some of the answers are a kind of poetry in themselves.

Elsewhere in the Opinion section, William Logan asks, “ Poetry: Who Needs It? ”

In “ A Poet’s Boyhood at the Burning Crossroads, ” the writer Saeed Jones describes how, when he was a teenager, poetry helped him “shatter silence into language.”

Do you teach poetry with a Times article or feature? Let us know!

Katherine Schulten has been a Learning Network editor since 2006. Before that, she spent 19 years in New York City public schools as an English teacher, school-newspaper adviser and literacy coach. @ KSchulten

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101 Poetry Prompts & Ideas for Writing Poems

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Not sure what to write a poem about? Here’s 101 poetry prompts to get you started!

poetry writing prompts

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These poetry prompts are designed to help you keep a creative writing practice. If you’re staring at a blank page and the words aren’t flowing, the creative writing prompts for poems can be a great way to get started!

New for 2023! Due to popular demand, I created a printable, ad-free version of these poetry prompts you can download to use at home or even in the classroom! Get them at our Etsy Shop .

Even if poetry isn’t your thing, you could always use these things to inspire other writing projects. Essays, journal entries, short stories, and flash fiction are just a few examples of ways this list can be used.

You may even find this list of creative poetry writing prompts helpful as an exercise to build your skills in descriptive writing and using metaphors!

Let’s get onto the list, shall we?

Here are 101 Poetry Prompts for Creative Writing

Most of these creative writing ideas are simple and open-ended. This allows you total creative freedom to write from these poetry prompts in your own unique style, tone, and voice.

If one poetry idea doesn’t appeal to you, challenge yourself to find parallels between the prompt and things that you do enjoy writing about!

1.The Untouchable : Something that will always be out of reach

2. 7 Days, 7 Lines : Write a poem where each line/sentence is about each day of last week

3. Grandma’s Kitchen : Focus on a single memory, or describe what you might imagine the typical grandmother’s kitchen to be like

4. Taste the Rainbow : What does your favorite color taste like?

5. Misfits: How it feels when you don’t belong in a group of others.

6. Stranger Conversations : Start the first line of your poem with a word or phrase from a recent passing conversation between you and someone you don’t know.

7. On the Field : Write from the perspective of a sports ball {Baseball, Soccer, Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, etc.} – think about what the sports ball might feel, see, hear, think, and experience with this poetry idea!

8. Street Signs: Take note of the words on signs and street names you pass while driving, walking, or riding the bus. Write a poem starting with one of these words you notice.

9. Cold water: What feelings do you associate with cold water? Maybe it’s a refreshing cold glass of water on a hot day, or maybe you imagine the feelings associated with being plunged into the icy river in the winter.

10. Ghostwriter: Imagine an invisible ghost picks up a pen and starts writing to you.

11. Lessons From Math Class: Write about a math concept, such as “you cannot divide by zero” or never-ending irrational numbers.

12. Instagram Wall: Open up either your own Instagram account or one of a friend/celebrity and write poetry based on the first picture you see.

13. Radio: Tune in to a radio station you don’t normally listen to, and write a poem inspired by the the first song or message you hear.

14. How To : Write a poem on how to do something mundane most people take for granted, such as how to tie your shoes, how to turn on a lamp, how to pour a cup of coffee.

15. Under 25 Words : Challenge yourself to write a poem that is no more than 25 words long.

16. Out of Order: Write about your feelings when there is an out of order sign on a vending machine.

17. Home Planet: Imagine you are from another planet, stuck on earth and longing for home.

18. Uncertainty : Think about a time in your life when you couldn’t make a decision, and write based on this.

19. Complete : Be inspired by a project or task be completed – whether it’s crossing something off the never-ending to-do list, or a project you have worked on for a long time.

20. Compare and Contrast Personality : What are some key differences and similarities between two people you know?

21. Goodbyes : Write about a time in your life you said goodbye to someone – this could be as simple as ending a mundane phone conversation, or harder goodbyes to close friends, family members, or former partners.

22. Imagine Weather Indoors : Perhaps a thunderstorm in the attic? A tornado in the kitchen?

23. Would You Rather? Write about something you don’t want to do, and what you would rather do instead.

24. Sound of Silence : Take some inspiration from the classic Simon & Garfunkel song and describe what silence sounds like.

25. Numbness : What’s it like to feel nothing at all?

26. Fabric Textures : Use different fiber textures, such as wool, silk, and cotton as a poetry writing prompt.

27. Anticipation : Write about the feelings you experience or things you notice while waiting for something.

28. Poison: Describe something toxic and its effects on a person.

29. Circus Performers: Write your poetry inspired by a circus performer – a trapeze artist, the clowns, the ringmaster, the animal trainers, etc.

30. Riding on the Bus : Write a poem based on a time you’ve traveled by bus – whether a school bus, around town, or a long distance trip to visit a certain destination.

31. Time Freeze : Imagine wherever you are right now that the clock stops and all the people in the world are frozen in place. What are they doing?

32. The Spice of Life : Choose a spice from your kitchen cabinet, and relate its flavor to an event that has happened recently in your daily life.

33. Parallel Universe : Imagine you, but in a completely different life based on making a different decision that impacted everything else.

34. Mad Scientist : Create a piece based on a science experiment going terribly, terribly wrong.

35. People You Have Known : Make each line about different people you have met but lost contact with over the years. These could be old friends, passed on family, etc.

36. Last Words : Use the last sentence from the nearest book as the inspiration for the first line of your poem.

37. Fix This : Think about something you own that is broken, and write about possible ways to fix it. Duct tape? A hammer and nails?

hammer poetry prompt idea

38. Suspicion : Pretend you are a detective and you have to narrow down the suspects.

39. Political News : Many famous poets found inspiration from the current politics in their time. Open up a newspaper or news website, and create inspired by the first news article you find.

40. The Letter D : Make a list of 5 words that start with all with the same letter, and then use these items throughout the lines of your verse. {This can be any letter, but for example sake: Daisy, Dishes, Desk, Darkness, Doubt}

41. Quite the Collection : Go to a museum, or look at museum galleries online. Draw your inspiration from collections of objects and artifacts from your favorite display. Examples: Pre-historic days, Egyptians, Art Galleries, etc.

42. Standing in Line : Think of a time you had to stand in line for something. Maybe you were waiting in a check-out line at the store, or you had to stand in line to enter a concert or event.

43. Junk Mail Prose: Take some inspiration from your latest junk mail. Maybe it’s a grocery store flyer announcing a sale on grapes, or an offer for a credit card.

44. Recipe : Write your poem in the form of a recipe. This can be for something tangible, such as a cake, or it can be a more abstract concept such as love or happiness. List ingredients and directions for mixing and tips for cooking up your concept to perfection.

45. Do you like sweaters? Some people love their coziness, others find them scratchy and too hot. Use your feelings about sweaters in a poem.

46. After Party : What is it like after all party guests go home?

47. Overgrown : Use  Little Shop of Horrors  for inspiration, or let your imagination run wild on what might happen if a plant or flower came to life or started spreading rapidly to take over the world.

48. Interference: Write a poem that is about someone or something coming in between you and your goals.

49. On Shaky Ground: Use an earthquake reference or metaphor in your poem.

50. Trust Issues : Can you trust someone you have doubted in the past?

51. Locked in a Jar: Imagine you are a tiny person, who has been captured and put into a jar for display or science.

52. Weirder Than Fiction: Think of the most unbelievable moment in your life, and write a poem about the experience.

53. Fast Food: Write a poem about fast food restaurants and experiences.

fast food writing prompt hamburger

54. Unemployed: Write a poem about quitting or being fired from a job you depended on.

55. Boxes: What kinds of family secrets or stories might be hiding in that untouched box in the attic?

56. No One Understands : Write about what it feels like when no one understands or agrees with your opinion.

57. Criminal Minds : Write a poem from the perspective of a high-profile criminal who is always on the run from law enforcement.

58. Marathon Runner : Write a poem about what training you might be doing to accomplish a difficult challenge in your life.

59. Trapped : Write about an experience that made you feel trapped.

60. Passing the Church : Write a poem about noticing something interesting while passing by a church near your home.

61. Backseat Driver: Write about what it’s like to be doing something in your life and constantly being criticized while trying to move ahead.

62. Luster: Create a descriptive poem about something that has a soft glow or sheen to it.

63. Clipboard: Write a poem about someone who is all business like and set in their ways of following a system.

64. Doctor: Write a poem about receiving advice from a doctor.

65. First Car : Write an ode to your first car

66. Life Didn’t Go As a Planned : Write about a recent or memorable experience when nothing went according to plan.

67. Architect : Imagine you are hired to design a building for a humanitarian cause you are passionate about.

68. The Crazy Cat Hoarder : Write about someone who owns far too many cats.

69. Queen : Write a poem from the perspective of a queen.

70. Movie Character : Think of a recent movie you watched, and create a poem about one character specifically, or an interaction between two characters that was memorable.

71. Potential Energy : Write about an experience where you had a lot of potential for success, but failed.

72. Moonlight : Write about an experience in the moonlight.

73. Perfection : Write about trying to always keep everything perfect.

74. You Are Wrong : Write a poem where you tell someone they are wrong and why.

75. Sarcasm : Write a poem using sarcasm as a form of illustrating your point.

76. Don’t Cry : Write a poem about how not to cry when it’s hard to hold back the tears.

77. Listen Up: Write a poem telling someone they are better than they think they are.

78. Flipside : Find the good in something terrible.

79. Maybe They Had a Reason : Write a poem about someone doing something you don’t understand, and try to explain what reasons they might have had.

80. How to Drive : Write a poem that explains how to drive to a teenager.

81. Up & Down the Steps: Write a poem that includes the motion of going up or down a staircase

82. Basket Case: Has there ever been a time when you thought you might lose your mind? Jot your feelings and thoughts down in verse form.

83. Lucky Guess:  Many times in our life we have to make a good guess for what is the best decision. Use this poetry idea to write about feelings related to guessing something right – or wrong.

84. Dear Reader:  What audience enjoys reading the type of poetry you like to write? Craft a note to your potential audience that addresses their biggest fears, hopes, and dreams.

85. All or Nothing : Share your thoughts on absolutist thinking: when one’s beliefs are so set in stone there are no exceptions.

86. Ladders in the Sky : Imagine there are ladders that take you up to the clouds. What could be up there? What feelings do you have about climbing the ladders, or is their a mystery as to how they got there in the first place?

ladder poetry prompt

87. Always On My Mind: Compose a poem about what it’s like to always be thinking about someone or something.

88. Paranoia : What would it be like if you felt like someone was watching you but no one believed you?

89. Liar, Liar: How would you react to someone who lied to you?

90. Secret Word: What’s the magic word to unlock someone’s access to something?

91. For What It’s Worth: Use a valuable object in your home as inspiration as a poetry prompt idea.

92. Coming Home to Secrets: Imagine a person who puts on a good act to cover up a secret they deal with at home.

93. Productivity: Talk about your greatest struggles with time management and organization.

94. Defying Gravity: Use words that relate to being weightless and floating.

95. Signs of the Times : How has a place you are familiar with changed over the past 10 years?

96. Sleepless Nights : What ideas and feelings keep you up at night? What’s it like when you have to wake up in the morning on a night you can’t sleep?

97. You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit : Use one of the worst job related memories you can think of as a creative writing prompt.

98. By George : You can choose any name, but think of 3-5 notable figures or celebrities who share a common first name, and combine their personalities and physical characteristics into one piece of poetry. For example: George Washington, George Clooney, George Harrison.

99. Shelter : Write a poem about a time you were thankful for shelter from a storm.

100. Cafeteria : Create a poem inspired by the people who might be eating lunch in a cafeteria at school or at a hospital.

101. Dusty Musical Instruments : Base your poem around the plight of a musician who hasn’t picked up the guitar or touched a piano in years.

Love these prompts? The printable, ad-free version of these poetry prompts can be used offline or in the classroom! Get them at our Etsy Shop .

There are unlimited possibilities for ways you can use these poem ideas to write poetry. Using a list like this can greatly help you with getting into the habit of writing daily – even when you don’t feel inspired to write.

While not every poem you write will be an award-winning masterpiece, using these poem starters as a regular exercise can help you better your craft as a writer.

I hope you enjoy these poetry prompts – and if you write anything you’d like to share inspired by these creative poetry writing prompts, let us know in the comments below – we love to see how others use writing ideas to create their own work!

And of course, don’t forget to get the ad-free poetry prompt cards printable version if you’d like to use these prompts offline, in the classroom or with your small group!

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Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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I had a wonderful inspiration from prompt number 49 “On Shaky Ground,” although it’s not exactly about an earthquake. I wanted to share it on here, so I hope you enjoy it!

Title: “Shaking Ground”

The ground’s shaking My heart’s aching I’m getting dizzy My mind’s crazy

On shaking ground It’s like I’m on a battleground We’re all fighting for love Dirtying our white glove

The ground’s shaking My body’s quaking Love is so cruel Making me a fool

On shaking ground We are all love-bound Stuck in a crate Nobody can avoid this fate

The ground’s shaking We are all waking Opening our eyes Everyone dies

On shaking ground Our love is profound Although we are separate Better places await

The ground’s shaking Death’s overtaking Heaven is descending The world’s ending

On shaking ground In love we are drowned

Awesome interpretation Amanda! Thanks for sharing!

heyyy, I have written something regarding prompt 27 and 96 The Night Charms.

Do you dread the dark; Or do you adore the stars? Do you really think the fire place is that warm; Or you just envy the night charms? The skyline tries to match the stars’ sparkle, The sky gets dark, the vicinity gets darker. The “sun” has set for the day being loyal; These are now the lamps burning the midnight oil. The Eve so busy, that everyone forgets to praise its beauty. The sun has set without anyone bidding him an adieu, Failed to demonstrate its scintillating view. The moon being the epitome of perfection, Has the black spots, Depicting an episode of it’s dark past.

And I sit; I sit and wonder till the dawn. What a peaceful time it is, To have a small world of your own. Away from the chaos, I found a soul that was lost. So tired, yet radiant, Trying to be someone she’s not in the end. That bewitching smile held my hand, Carried me back to shore, letting me feel my feet in the sand. The waves moved to and fro, Whispering to me as they go, “Oh girl, my girl This is the soul you have within you, Never let it vanish, For it alters you into something good and something new, Don’t let the cruel world decide, Don’t let anyone kill that merry vibe.”

Then I saw my own soul fade, Fly into my heart, For what it was made. Oh dear lord, The night’s silence became my solace, My life lessons were made by the waves. Who am I? What have I done to myself? Many questions were answered in self reproach, The answers were still unspoken with no depth. Oh dear night, What have you done to me? Or should I thank you for putting a soul that I see. The nights spent later were now spectacular, My darkness somehow added some light to my life, Making it fuller… Everyday after a day, walking through the scorching lawns, I wait for the the dusk to arrive, and then explore myself till the dawn.

This is so amazing I ran out of words. Very lit thoughts beautifully penned. Keep writing like this dude.❤🌻

That is beautiful, it inspired me to write about my fears, thank you!!

Thank you for the inspiration! 😀 This was based of 21 and 77 (I think those were the numbers lol)

Goodbye to the days when we played together in the sun Goodbye to the smile on your face and to all of the fun I look at you, so dull and blue How long before I can say hello to the real you You are worth more than you think At the very least, you are to me Though there are greater things that wait for you than the least You are worthy of the most, the greatest of things If only goodbye could be ‘see you later’ I want to see the real you again To your suffering I don’t want to be just a spectator I want it all to end Goodbye to my only friend I want to heal you but I don’t know how I wish I had this all figured out Please come back to me I just want you to be free

Thank u so much im more inspired after seeing these creative ideas. 🤗

Glad they inspired you!

Thanks for sharing Amanda!

That was beautiful! I am a writer too! I actually just finished writing one but, it wasn’t from this website, just kind of something that’s been on my head for a while you know? Anyways, again, that was awesome! I am a Christian, and I love seeing people write about that kind of stuff! 🙂

I am jim from Oregon. I am also a writer, not very good but active. I am a Christian as well as you are. Sometimes it is hard to come up with something to write about.

All of a sudden, I have started to write poetry. Do you like all forms of writing? I would enjoy reading some of you work if you would you would like to s if you would like to send me some.

i have written one about frozen time:

my brother will be drawing, his pencil wont leave the sheet, my mother hearing the radio, today’s news on repeat. my sister, in fact, is making her bed, she’ll be making it still, till the last bug is dead. me, on the other hand, i’ll be visiting you, i’ll see you in action, doing the things that you do, i’ll be happy to see you, just a last time, i’ll kiss your still lips, and hold for a while. then i’ll take a plane to saudi, where i’ll see my dad, he’ll be swimming with turtles, he will not seem sad. i have lived on this earth, for 15 whole years, time for goodbye, with not a single tear.

hey beautifully expressed…!!!

Beautifully penned 🌼

I love it I tried one out myself as well Change

She sat looking out the window. The sound of the piano’s cheerful tune ringing out throughout the room. The sweet smell of burnt pine emanating from her fireplace. The sky is blue and the sun shines bright. She closes her eyes for a second. She opens them again. The window is broken and scattered on the ground. The piano sits covered in ashes, every symphony played now just a distant memory replaced with a discordant melody. The room smells of smoke and ash. The sky is dark and rain falls on the remnants of her home. Not a living thing in sight,not even her.

Nice one Amanda. kind of tells me the chronology of love and its eventualities.

such a dilightful poem, thanks for the word that made the day for me. you are such a good poet.

Omg! What!! This is amazing! I’d love to feature this piece on my blog monasteryjm.com. I also love this blog post by thinkwritten.com, planning on putting the link in my next blog post so others can come over here to check it out! So helpful!

this is so great! I’ve been needing inspiration. this might work

Thank you so much for this article! I love the profundity and open-endedness of the prompts. Here is a poem I wrote, drawing inspiration from #56, “No One Understands.” I wrote this from the perspective of a psychic Arcturian Starseed in her teenage years and how the world perceives her spiritual connection; while at the same time hinting at the true meaning of her various baffling actions. Enjoy 🙂

Starseed – a poem on perspective

In the snow She stands alone Wrapped in shrouds of mystery Her gentle hand gloved with giving Caressing A violet stone

Math class is dismissed But there still she sits Speaking to the ceiling in tender tones A soft and healing resonance Murmuring sweetly of ascension to Another, dearer dimension

In homeroom Her classmate weeps Of missed planes and shattered dreams Quietly She strokes the hand of the suffering And whispers then of channeling Some celestial utopia called Arcturus Where she claims to have been.

Please feel free to let me know where I need to improve! I’m fourteen years old and only an amateur, so a few suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, love and light 🙂

#79 I don’t know why he was so mad Did he not get his mail Was he already mad Or did he only get bills

He swung his arm with force He caused a loud bang He hurt his own hand He left with some blood

He is the man that punched the mailbox His hand dripped blood on it He left it with a dent He left it alone after that

That’s great Michael, thank you for sharing your response to one of the prompts!

Awesome! That was simple and yet creative

Interesting tips and keywords for boosting inspiration. I’ve found some good topic for start writing. Thanks

sleepless nights (#96)

it’s never a strangled cry that drags me from my dreams, but a gentle whisper, there to nudge the socks off my feet, and settle me back into the sheets. i seem to wake before i’ve had a chance to fall to rest.

why is it that i can never sleep, but always dream?

sleepless nights rule my life and drag me by my toes, throwing me into a sky of black and blue. not a single star can break through this spillage. and i sit and wonder in a sea of sheets, rippling around me, why my mind can swim these dark, tangling waters and i never need to take a breath.

have you ever noticed how static-filled the dark is? because when i lay buried under these burdens and blankets, the world seems ready to crumble under my grasp.

i can’t sleep, but i can dream, of days when i wasn’t pulled struggling from bed but awoken into the light. i wonder how i ever survived the grainy sky’s midnight troubles, the oil spill of its thunderclouds, the sandpaper raspiness of the three a.m. earth against my throat.

oh, how i can never sleep in a world that threatens to fall apart.

this is amazing! i hope i can be this good one day

once again beautiful <3

Thank you so much for these prompts! They’re so thought-provoking.

You’re welcome! Glad you enjoy them!

Take me back to those days, When I was allowed to dream, Where no one use to scream. Take me back to those days, When I was a child, Where I never use to find reasons to smile. Take me Take back to those days, When I never used to lie, Where I never used to shy. Take me back those carefreee days, When I was far away from school days. Take me back to those days , where every one used to prase, no matter how foolish i behave. Take me back to those days, when i wasn’t stuck between fake people. Take me back to the day I was born, So that I could live those days again………….

so mine is basically a mix between 76 and 77… I made it for my literature club i recently began trying to make.

‘Listen to me’ Listen to me your words mean more than you think your opinion is worthy to be shared your songs are capable of being sung

Listen to me

your smile is bright your frown shows nothing more than you should be cared for like you care for us.

your laughter is delightful and so is everything else

dont let the past go hurt you find strength in the experience

are you listening to me?

can you here me?

because YOU matter

Nice, thank you for sharing!

Prompt #1 “Untouchable”

Grasping Reaching Searching for the untouchable The indescribable On the tip of my tongue My fingertips Close to my heart But warping my brain Yet understood in the depths of my soul Emotions undiscovered Words Unsaid Deep in the depths of my mind Hand outstretched Lingering on the edge Eyes wide open But somehow still blind Unattainable But still in the hearts of The Brave The Curious The Resilient They Seek the unseekable They pursue the unattainable Each man seeing it in a different aspect Each of their visions blurred Each distorted by Experiences Traumas Wishes Dreams Filtering what’s untouchable

Thank you, glad you enjoy it!

I had good inspiration from #51, locked in a jar. I used it more metaphorically instead of literally. So here it is: glass walls, lid screwed on tight, can’t escape, not even at night. From the inside, looking out, this is not who I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be bigger, I’m supposed to be free, not stuck in a jar, no room to breathe. I need to move, I need to soar, I need to be able to speak my opinions and more. So as I look down at my tiny self, in this glass jar, “let me out, I can’t take it anymore”, I say to the bigger me, the one ignoring my tiny pleas.

Just wanted to add a twist to this promt. I’m just a beginner in the art of poetry, but I tried. If anyone has any creative criticism, go ahead! #16: our of order

My brain is out of order My thoughts have filled it to the brim Of my deepest thoughts of who I am Who we are As people We are out of order Never focusing on what we want Our passions All we ever get is work on top of work Pushing us down and down Like a giant hand Squeezing us into the depths of our depressions Until We can do anything But take it Anymore

Thank you Ash for sharing your take on the prompt with us!

Thank you ASH for reminding we can do anything if we try

Was inspired by #77 listen up Listen up…….! When would you listen up! Seems! you have given up! No matter who shut you up! Stand straight and look up!

Look up don’t be discouraged Let you heart be filled with courage Listen up and be encouraged Let life be sweet as porridge

You might have been down Like you have no crown Because deep down You were shut down

There is still hope When there is life Yes! You can still cope If you can see the light Yes! Even in the night

Oh listen up! Please listen up and take charge, You are better than the best Listen up! And oh! Please listen up.

beautifully written!

I wrote a poem using prompt 21 and I’m so proud of it. Comment if you want me to post it🤓

I bet the poem you wrote about prompt 21 is really good. I would like to read it please.

Mental prison, what a way to be trapped, being hidden, being snapped,

Clear glass is all i feel, apart from people, I hope I heal, I will never be equal,

I am different I am hurt raging currents people put on high alert but no one cares

No one dreads many tears I only have so many more threads

One day I’ll be gone but no one would care I will run away from the death chair

But until then

Mental prison what a way to be trapped being hidden being snapped

One day this will all blow away someday I will be molded out of clay but until then I will be lead astray

This is so darn awesome. It’s so deep and evokes the deepest of feelings🥰

I wrote almost the same thing omg I’m turning it into a contest entry

Inspired by No. 1! I am completely new to poetry, but I love it so much already! Here it is.

Perfection is Untouchable-

Perfection waiting, out of reach

Will I never touch it?

It always remain


No matter how hard I try

I will never quite reach

It will always remain

Though many people have tried

And seemed to have come close

But perfection’s not the goal

‘Cause we can’t quite grasp it

Perfection will always be

For all eternity

Looks like you are off to a great start!

Of Course, Silly Billy Me

”Well shit, I guess I lost my opportunity” the youngster retort

You see, for him, it’s all about his hurt – but she’s so educated, knows more about the rules of English than the rest of us.

Thus, to me she said… You cannot use curse words in a court report… you need to paraphrase his quote.

Into her spastic face I smiled – and pled my case

If you were my English professor back in the day, I could only imagine how much further in life I would have been…

”Don’t you mean farther in life?”

Of course, silly billy me.

This poem is called Secret Keeper and was inspired by #92. I hope you like it.

Everyone has a secret, Whether it be their own, Or someone else’s, We all have one.

But what if, You met someone, Who had a secret so big, That telling anyone would lead to horrible things.

And what if, That person told someone, And what they told them, Was more horrible than anything they could have ever imagined.

What if, That person told everyone, And when the parents, Of the kid with the secret found out, They were furious.

What if, They kept doing horrible things, Even though everyone knew, Even though they knew it was wrong.

And finally, What if, No one ever helped, The little kid with the biggest secret.

On number 28 : Poision I wrote a poem for it and would like to share it. The poision of friends and love

Beaten,she lies there. For they may be mistaken. Laughter rings throughout the school halls; a pure disaster. The dissapearence of parents hast caused this yet no one stops it. “Your a disgrace!” She heard them say. While in place she cries “I don’t belong here! Perhaps im out of place..” But she is not misplaced rather.. Shes lost in space.

I miss when you called me baby And I was in your arms saftely I know we drive eachother crazy But I miss callin you my baby

Those restless nights when I couldn’t sleep You calmed me down with your technique Always reminded me I’m strong not weak If only I let you speak

My heart only beats for you My feelings for you only grew You understood what I was going through I will never regret knowing you

Your smile melted my heart I wish we could restart And I could be apart Of a man I see as a work of art!

Stary night painting poem I guess ill call it

I raised my paint brush to my canvas So I could help people understand this This feeling of emotion for this painting has spoken I see the light as opportunity As for the whole thing it symbolizes unity The swirls degnify elegance and uncertainty For this painting executes this perfectly Where as my paintings let me adress Everything I feel I need to express!

#56 WHITE NOISE Faded away In the background Unheard Not visible

Eardrums splitting from the screams Yet none seem to care Can even hear my cries for help? For I am screaming as loud as I can

Are you? For all we hear Are whispers in here

Fading away in the background Unheard, invisible Yet it’s there, not loud enough Not noticeable, but there White noise Blank and pure In the background Faded away, yet so clear.

Just need to listen So open your ears She’s screaming for help But it’s muted to your ears

So open ’em up And listen to the calls For faded away, in the background Not visible, but clear. White Noise. It’s there.

Hi guys, I’m kind of late joining in. I read the prompts and the poems posted and this community is a creative bunch. I liked #35 People You Have Known. I want to share it with you guys.

Bern, a friend from grade school was my seat mate as well Rob had always teased me so my young life was hell Neesa was pretty, she knew that she was my crush Miss Homel, our teacher was always in a rush Played ball with Buco and I got hit on my head Fell in love with Cia, dreamt of her in my bed Had a tattoo with Marcus and called it “The Day” Chub challenged me to eat two pies, I said, “No way” I had to go far away so I wrote to Charie In this new place I found a friend in Perry My Grandma Leng passed away, she was a doll My grumpy uncle, Uncle Zar was teased by all These people have touched my life for worse or better Won’t be forgotten, be remembered forever

I hope that you liked it. Thanks guys. Thanks Think Written.

#37 fix it Still new to poems, and I haven’t written one in a while. Criticism is welcome because I need some more inspiration since I haven’t been getting any.

This is the body repair shop where we fix humans that have stopped how may we help you?

the girl stumbled upon the front door and spilled her list of regrets out into the open

“we’re sorry, miss” “but i’m afraid your first kiss will just be a dear old reminisce”

“your heart is also one that cannot be mended” “for every shattered piece- their lives just simply ended” the sewing kit can’t sew the fragments of her heart back because there were way too many to backtrack

she cried her heart out and it went “plop!” her tears like a river and like a lightbulb flickering its last light she too, took her last breath and was put to death

This is the body repair shop where we fix humans that have stopped “it seems we have failed again today” “sorry we’ll just try harder again another day”

I did poetry prompt #7. I wrote about the street I grew up on. Luverne Luverne, I moved onto you at the age of three. We like to race up and down your pavement road, either biking or running. You keep safe the house that I grew up in, one that has six humans and three dogs. You shelter other houses, too, that hold family friends and best friends to last a lifetime.

Luverne, we love you.

-Margaret McMahon

I was inspired by the prompt poison. Monster Roses are beautiful and delicate, but flawed.

Every rose has thorns that cause you to bleed.

Its innocence and beauty draws you in.

Only then when you touch it, it poisons you.

Am I really such an ugly monster, that plants pain an watches it spread?

I would say no.

Wouldn’t we all?

But maybe, just maybe a rose doesn’t notice it’s thorns.

-Lilliana Pridie

You said you’re only just starting?! That was sooo good! No criticism here. 🙂

Sorry, that was meant for “Ash” but yours was amazing too! 🙂

Prompt number 8: Street signs STOP Stop look and listen Stop at the corner Stop at the red light Stop for pedestrians Stop for cyclists Stop for animals Stop doing that Stop drop and roll Stop doing something else Stop shouting Stop whispering Stop talking Stop being quiet Stop posting cute cat videos Stop forgetting your appointments Stop making plans without me Stop eating all the yummies Stop running Stop the insanity Stop shopping Stop the never-ending commentary in my head Stop stopping Stop

Thanks for making this site and all its suggestions and especially this space to post our work, available!

I wrote from prompt #72 about moonlight. Shining down like a spotlight, Illuminating everything around you. The pure white light, Paint your surroundings in a soft glow. The round ball in the sky, speckled with craters like the freckles on your face. Looking down upon the sleeping earth, A nightlight for those still awake, a nightlight for you. Guides you, pulls you, lulls you towards it. It caresses your face with the light, casting away the shadows of the night.

I liked it I just wrote a small poem dedicated to my tutor and tutor just loved it .I used 21 good bye . I liked it really.😊

I just took up writing so bear with me.

Based on #72 “Moonlight”

A full bed Just the left side filled Soft, cold, baby blue sheets wrap around bare feet

She sweetly invites herself in Dressing the dark in a blue hue through cypress filled air, like 5 A.M. drives in January on the misty Northern coast.

Damp hair dances across grey skin, Waltzing with the breeze to Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely”

Euphoria slow dances with Tranquility Heavy eyes give in to sleep

Ladder to the Sky I want to climb the ladder to the sky I’m sure all would be well and that I could fly The ladder would be sturdy but still give me a fright Because looking down I’ll realized I’ve climbed many heights The higher I climb the greater the fall The greater the fall, the greater the sprawl But if i ever get to the sky up high I would be sure to hug you and say “goodbye” Once I’ve climbed the ladder I’ll know Sometimes its okay to look far down below Life is full of failure but soon I’ll find Happiness is a place, and not of the mind We all have ladders to climb and lives to live We all have a little piece of us that we can give Because when we climb that ladder to the sky We should think “No, life never passed me by”

Hi Ray, I love your piece.It gives one courage to face the challenges of live and move on.

Thanks for sharing the prompts Chelle Stein. I wrote this sometimes ago before coming to this site and I believed prompts #1 and #88 inspired my writing it. kindly help me vet it and give your criticism and recommendation. It is titled “SHADOW”.

My shadow your shadow My reflection your reflection My acts your acts

No one sees me,no one sees you Programmed by the Ubiquitous, To act as our bystander in realism

Virtuous iniquitous rises on that day To vindicate to incriminate My deeds your deeds.

Thanks for the seemingly endless amounts of writing prompts. I’ve been working on a poem, but it isn’t much.

She’s got my head spinning, Around and around; She’s all I think about, I can’t help but wondering, Does she feel the same?

Of course not, I’m just a fool; I’m nothing special, Just another person; Bland and dull.

How could a girl like her, love a guy like me? But the way she looks at me, Her smile, I can’t help but to feel flustered; Is this just my imagination?

It must be.

Wow! That’s exactly how I feel! Amazing poem!

Thanks so much, I’m glad you like it. 🙂

A massive thank you to thinkwritten.com for these amazing prompts. Some of these prompts have now formed the basis of my upcoming poetry collection (Never Marry a Writer) scheduled for release on January 1 2021. I will also be leaving a “Thank you” message for this website in the acknowledgements section. You have inspired a whole poetry collection out of nowhere which is highly commendable. So booktiful that!

That is wonderful news!

So I didn’t use any of the prompts but I wanted some feedback on this; it’s not great but I’m working on improving my writing skills

I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music I wonder if things will ever be normal again I hear light screaming through the darkness I want freedom from the chains trapping me in my fear I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music

I pretend to float in the ocean, letting the waves carry me away from reality I feel a presence of hope like a flame on my bare skin I touch the eye of a storm, grasping the stillness it brings I worry about wars that a spreading like wildfires I cry when I’m not with the people I love I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music

I understand feeling hopeless when you have no control over what is happening I say our differences make us special I dream to be a nurse, to help others when they can’t help themselves I try to do my best in everything I hope that all mankind will stop fighting and live in peace I am a girl who is broken easily and loves music






I wrote a poem based on #101.

Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

And then it was there. What I had been missing. What is it? You may ask. Well, it’s quite simple actually. It’s the joy of music. It’s the joy of sitting down and making music. It’s the joy you feel when you look up at people admiring you. The joy you see in peoples’ eyes. I don’t know why I ever stopped that. The piano sat on the stage. Dusty and untouched. It’d been decades since I’ve seen it. I haven’t come to this stage since I lost her. After the concert. The last time I ever heard her voice. And yet here I am years and years later. Knowing why I haven’t been happy in so long. Of course pain is always gonna be there, But as I played a soft note on the piano, All of it seemed to disappear. It was as if all the weight on my shoulders got lifted. The melodious notes resonated around the hall. And for a few moments, I forgot about all the pain. I forgot about the tears. I forgot about the heartache. And as the last notes echoed around the hall, I was truly happy.

Prompt #92: Coming home with secrets

My mother’s radio sits in the balcony And it greets me with electric static Coming to this sheltering home is somewhat problematic Cause the walls are too thin, and it’s back to reality. Back to the running water that conceals the noise of cracks Crumbling behind my peeling mask, holding my face with wax An unraveled thread masking the makeup smile of a wakeup call That runs down to my chin and I keep under wraps. I take invitations to the mall, yet the space around me seems so small Nevertheless, I show my teeth with a big, shiny grin And suck a trembling breath through their thin slit Happy to wear tight jeans, to stop me from an embarrassing fall. The bath hurts on my skin, but even more to protect screams from the halls My head floats in the water, but feels trapped in its walls It cracks my head open with all these secrets inside me Before a blink of an eye, to my room I’d already flee. Not to the radio playing static or streets that won’t let me be But to under the blankets, where no one can really see The struggle to be a walking, talking, breathing secret That was thrown to the ocean in a bottle, wishing to be free. However, the words untold keep coming like ever so frequent Like adrenalized filled cops in pursue of an escapee delinquent All the more, my doppelganger and I have come to an agreement To take these secrets to our grave, that we nowadays call home.

Recipe for Happiness

Start with friendship, Then add time, A dash of humor, And forgotten binds. Mix it up, Till blended well, And make sure, To remember the smell. Put that bowl, To the side, Grab a new one, Add grateful sighs. Then add family, And a smile, Then sit back, And mix awhile. To that bowl, Add a laugh, A cheerful cry, And blissful past. Whip until, There’s heavy peaks, Then pour in, What we all seek. Combine the two, Then mix it well, Spray the pan, And pour it out. Cherish the memory, The beautiful scent, Of unity, And happiness.

My mother died when I was younger so this poem is about me sitting on the lawn at night shortly after she passed away. I was imagining better times, which is why in my poem I talk about how the girl is imagining ‘walking on the moon’ and she is gripping the grass tight and trying to remember the warmth of her mothers palms.

Sitting in the blue black grass She’s walking on the moon Watching specks of silver dance To the mellow tune Her fingers gripping the grass so tight She can almost feel The warmth of her mothers palms

The winds cold fingers

The winds cold fingers Tousle with my hair Loosening the soil My sobs are carried away on the wind

I would love to share this list (credited to you) with students participating in a virtual library program on poetry. Would that be possible/acceptable? These are great!

Wow! Thank you so much for all these awesome prompts! I’ve written two poems already!

Prompt #1 AND #15, untouchable and less than 25 words. i’m lowk popping off??

Apollo Commands the sun, which squints so brightly, scorches and freckles. i want her hand on mine. searing pain fears, still i reach out, and bubble.

I looked at the word “Duct tape” And thought about it. Its not anywhere in this poem at all but it inspired it yk?

Feathers are Soft

Feathers are soft People aren’t

Plushies are soft People aren’t

Pillows are soft People aren’t

People are mean Not nice Not joyful

well my poem is only loosely based on the second prompt because I found I had too much to say about Sundays. I would love to share it with you but these comments don’t support links.

Inspired by number 55 in list of poetry suggestions. Poem to song guitar chords. —————————————————-

Carnegie Hall

D I was feeling ecstatic G when I went to the attic A and found my auld busking D guitar

D But I felt consternation G I disturbed hibernation A at first it seemed quite D bazaar

D When I blew off the dust G it smelt like old must A but t’was time to give it a D bar

D It was then I heard flapping G which sounded like clapping A my first ever round of D applause

D It stayed with the beat G while tapping my feet A I kept playing despite all my D flaws

D I took early retirement G though not a requirement A “Bad Buskers” all get D menopause

D I’m strumming the strings G and the echo it rings A but no jingling of coins as they D fall

D So I play here alone G as to what I was prone A never made it to Carnegie D Hall

D Time to call it a day G as they used to say A for no encores or no curtain D call

D There’s a butterfly G in my guitar

D There’s a butterfly G in my guitar.

Finn Mac Eoin

23rd July 2022

I love this Finn, where can we listen to your song?

Hello I wrote this in remberence of 9/11. Its now sitting in ground zero. A ordinary day to start  Same as any other Dad goes off to work again, Child goes with their mother. Vibrant busy city,  busses, cars galore Workers in the offices, from bottom to top floor. Throughout our life situations Hard times often do arise, Unfortunatly we never think of saying last goodbyes. That’s exactly what happened on September 11th 2001 A day that turned the world so cold When tragedy begun. Twin towers has exploded Co ordinate attacks, Al-Qaeda behind the planes That seemed to be hijacked. Thousands were killed instantly Some lives hang by a thread, Calls were made to loved ones Onlookers face of dread. Fears & screams while running As smoke fills up the air, News reports on live tv Helplessly they stare. On the news we hear the voices of all who are caught inside, Lying next to injured ones Or sadly ones who died. One man makes a phone call My darling wife it’s me, I’m sorry that I upset you And that we disagreed. My offices have been attacked they’re crumbling to the ground, A massive explosion hit our floor then instantly no sound. If I do not make it I’m stating from the heart, I love you darling, & in your life I’m glad to play a part. Tell the kids daddy loves them Continue well at school, Stand up for all your beliefs Don’t be taken for a fool. The wife is crying down the line Darling please don’t go, I love you darling so so much I’ve always told you so. He replied my darling im feeling really kind of weak, Breathlessly he’s coughing, he can hardly speak. If you ever need me just look up to the stars, I will hear your voices And heal up any scars. Suddenly all was quiet The wife screams down the fone, Darling can you hear me, don’t leave me here alone. The towers live on tv start to crumble to the ground, Clouds of smoke then fill the air The world in shock no sound. Crying at the images of all who has lost their lives , Mums,dad’s , Nan’s & grandads, husbands & wives. Rescue teams included and all those left behind To All who were among them,  all who did survive, All who were injured All who sadly died. Never in this lifetime that day will be the same For ground zero holds the memories Of every single name.

Those hero’s on that awful day who never thought about their life Who fought to save the innocent To keep each sole alive Those who were pulled to safety Those we lost in vein, Never be forgotten The pain will still remain We will never forget that tragedy For the days will never be the same. But may I say with all my heart In God we put our faith United we stand For eternity were safe Amen

This is a beautifully sad poem. You really wrote your way into my heart. <3

I wrote a poem inspired by number 72. Not really sticking to what it said but thought this was kinda close to what it said…

After dusk, the almost eternal night. The dark, winter sky, full of millions of tiny stars. The sky, a color of blue that seems darker than black.

Sunset, full of an array of colors. Purple, orange, pink, and yellow. Nearly all dark blue.

Right as dawn appears, practically the same sunset hours later. Light wispy clouds fill the sky. Orange, pink, and light blue diffuse in the sky as the sun awakens

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Writing a Narrative Poem: Everything You Need to Know (A Step by Step Guide)

by Zara Choudhry | May 29, 2023

Writing a Narrative Poem

When we think of poetry, the first thing that usually comes to people’s mind is rhymes (a close second: the other assumption that all poems are short!). 

But of course, this doesn’t capture the entire poetry genre. 

Narrative poetry is one of the most unique forms of literature because of their ability to capture plot, characters, and dialogue all in one poem—often with very little rhyming, if any. 

This is a step-by-step guide to writing a narrative poem, including what they are, how to write an epic narriative poem, and some awesome examples to inspire you. 

Table of Contents

What is a narrative poem .

A narrative poem is a form of poetry, which involves telling a story. The poet will use various elements of storytelling to create a plot, introduce characters, and set a certain scene–while using elements of poetry like rhyme, form and other devices. 

We find narrative poems to be the oldest form of poetry, dating all the way back to 2000 B.C. It has successfully stood the test of time because of the engaging and entertaining way that poetic rhymes and verses have been able to tell the intended story. 

More contemporary narrative poems tend to rely less on rhymes but still incorporate elements like non-linear story structure, characterization, and emotive language. 

The Difference Between Lyric Poems and Narrative Poems

A common misconception is that narrative poetry and lyric poetry are the same but this isn’t the case. 

The main difference is the poem’s sense of time. Narrative poems capture the flow of time by having an order of events and an “A causes B” pattern. The sense of time is easy to follow. On the other hand, lyric poems discuss a particular moment in the past with the purpose of bringing emotions out of the readers. 

In short, narrative poems focus on a sequence of events, whereas lyric poems magnify and speak about one specific event in time. 

What are the Different Types of Narrative Poetry? 

Ballad is a form of narrative poetry, which was loved throughout the 19th century. Athough originating in Europe, ballads have certainly made their mark across the world. Ballads were narrative poems set to music, often accompanied by dances and large crowds.  

Victorian-era poets admired this form of poetry and used it to both tell a story and entertain a big audience. However, their popularity hasn’t translated as well into the modern 21st century era and we see less of this form nowadays. 

Idyll poems are a form of narrative poetry, which describe and evoke rural life. This type of poetry focuses on moments within small communities and villages either describing a single person’s day of work or doing some sort of labor. 

Idyll poems date back to the early 17th century as a way of depicting the life of farmers, laborers, and rural life in general. 

A great example is Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tenyson (1859) which details the story of King Arthur’s nights in a 12-poem cycle: 

I found Him in the shining of the stars, I mark’d Him in the flowering of His fields, But in His ways with men I find Him not. I waged His wars, and now I pass and die. O me! for why is all around us here As if some lesser god had made the world, But had not force to shape it as he would, Till the High God behold it from beyond, And enter it, and make it beautiful?

  • Epic Poems 

Epic poems are long narrative poems concerning stories of heroism and any type of extraordinary people who changed history. 

These poems were used to tell the stories of kings, knights and successors to evoke national identity and morality.

Examples of these poems include, The Aeneid and The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and The Mahabharata. 

How to Get Started Writing a Narrative Poem

Narrative poetry is a form of artistic expression, combining the power of storytelling with the beauty of poetic language. Here are some essential tips and techniques to help you bring your stories to life.

Find Your Inspiration

Every great narrative poem begins with a spark of inspiration. Look for ideas in your surroundings, personal experiences, historical events, or even mythology. Allow yourself to be curious and open to new perspectives. 

Inspiration can come from unexpected places, so be receptive to the world around you, think of something great that has happened to you (or someone close to you) or even create a world that is completely fictional!

Develop Your Plot

Every great narrative poem has a  well-structured plot. Start by outlining the key events, characters, and conflicts in your story and set the beginning, middle, and end of your poem, and consider how each part intertwines. 

Remember, you don’t need to go into too much detail by explaining the scene or introducing characters as this isn’t a novel. Keep it straight to the point yet engaging for your reader.  

Choose a Narrative Voice

The tone and narrative voice of your poem are crucial in setting the mood and capturing the reader’s attention. 

Do you want your poem to be narrated in a humorous tone? Or maybe even a mysterious one? Choose a narrative poem that aligns with the perspective of who is telling the story and, to make it even more personal, you can even use a first-person voice. 

Utilize Imagery and Sensory Detail

The aim with any compelling narrative poem is to create a vivid and rich picture in the mind of readers. You want them to transport themselves to the setting, visualize the events and feel the story unfold. 

Make use of sensory details to enhance the experience and think about the various descriptive words you can use to bring the narration to life. 

Focus on Figurative Language

Figurative language brings depth and richness to your narrative poem. Incorporate metaphors, similes, personification, and other literary devices to infuse your writing with a touch of elegance and lyrical beauty. 

Figurative language helps readers connect with the emotions and ideas conveyed in your poem, evoking a more profound and lasting impact.

Experiment with Structure and Form

We’ve looked at the different forms of narrative poems, so feel free to put them to use! You can opt for something more traditional like a ballad or epic, or perhaps choose a more contemporary form. 

Experiment with line breaks, stanza lengths, rhyme schemes, or even free verse and let the structure and form of your poem enhance the overall storytelling experience.

Narrative poems are a beautiful piece of literature that allow you to blend the art of storytelling with the power of poetry. 

By seeking inspiration, focusing on figurative speech, utilizing sensory descriptions, and developing an engaging plot, you can conjure up a compelling narrative poem that tells your story perfectly. 

Grab your pen, let your imagination soar, and embark on the thrilling adventure of crafting narrative poetry!

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14 Poetry Writing Apps to Unleash Your Creativity

With the advancement in cutting-edge technology, amazing mobile poetry writing apps continue to emerge so that you write quotes, poems, short stories, and even novels on the go. Here is a list of several fantastic poem writing applications that will make your poetry writing experience a breeze.

Table of Contents

Flips: Poem Writing App

picture showing Flip's poetry writing app

Hapramp Studio designed this software for authors who want to produce visually appealing posts and tales for their Instagram and WhatsApp accounts.

 This poetry app allows you to create aesthetically pleasing versions of your written works, such as poems, quotes, and stories. You may modify your Instagram posts or share your thoughts using this amazing application. 

It doesn’t involve any registration, and it’s free. Because of its attractive and intuitive user interface, you can compose poems quickly and with no effort. You can even save your work for future access. 

Flips features not just poetry writing but also stunning backdrops and a huge variety of fonts for your poems. With a single click, you can easily change the alignment and size of the text. 

Flips is available on Google Play Store . 

Lyric Notepad

screenshot of Lyric, a poem writing app.

Lyric Notepad, created by Kenny Mc, contains many cool features that will save you time and effort. This application can record your lyrics, keep track of your rhyme and syllable schemes, and locate new words. You can even customize the app’s rhyming sensitivity to suit your needs, and it will automatically hunt for rhyme ideas as you write.

Another great thing about this poetry writing app is that it can divide lines into quarter measures and count the number of syllables in each line. With its built-in recorder, you’ll never lose track of your melody or forget which recording corresponds with which verse again. You may choose to utilize the metronome features as visual or auditory cues. 

The Android and iOS versions of Lyric Notepad are free to download and use. You can make In-app purchases if you desire.

Haikujam poetry writing app's UI

If you’re looking to connect with other poets, try out the social writing game HaikuJAM created by HaikuJAM Inc. You can collaborate on writing projects, meet new people, and, of course, write poetry. 

You may also meet other poets in a relaxed and enjoyable setting, thanks to the social network features of HaikuJAM. There is a mood tracker and various writing ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

The application features a built-in spellchecker and grammar checker, both of which will be useful to poem writers around the globe. 

To use HaikuJAM, you can get the app for free on Google Play Store .

Poetry Creator Verses

Tiny Mobile Inc. presents Poetry Creator Verses, an app that lets you write poetry using definitions from many dictionaries. The app is perfect for poets who enjoy experimenting with new vocabulary and has a design like a word magnet. Once satisfied with your creation, you may send it to friends through email or post it on Facebook. This application is available for no cost in apple’s app store for iPhones and iPad. 

Optional in-app purchases also provide access to eight premium dictionaries, including Shakespeare Dictionary and Hip-Hop Dictionary.

Poetry Creator Verses is available to download from Apple’s App Store .

Poet's Pad

Dante Media, LLC created this fantastic software. Poet’s Pad has powerful idea generator tools to encourage free expression and eliminate writer’s block.

The application helps you get creative by suggesting new words and phrases to add to the ones you’ve previously written. You may also use it to develop concepts for your masterpiece, depending on the mood you want to create.

After selecting your mood, the app will suggest words and phrases that fit your theme. It also contains a thesaurus (great for finding the right word or synonyms!), a voice audio recorder, and a rhyming dictionary, which are useful for an artist. 

Downloading this app will cost you $9.99.

Screenshots showing how poetry writing app works Mirakee 

Miraquill (formerly Mirakee) is a poetry writing app and a blogging system for writers and musicians. The shared experience of writing and reading brings people together from all corners of the globe. You may share your work on Miraquill and get feedback from other people. You can even participate in the discussion by commenting on and rating the work of others.

Writing something you aren’t quite ready to publish yet? No problem; store it as a draft and come back to it whenever you’re ready. Miraquill’s in-app design tool turns poetry and phrases into beautiful photographs that you can share online.

Poets may read haikus and learn how to compose them using the Haiku Poem by International Reading Association. 

If you’re writing a haiku, you can use the built-in syllable counters to track how many you’ve used on each line. The app displays over 175 haiku poetry from 37 Japanese and Western writers for inspiration. After setting up the app, you may immediately begin writing. You won’t need to create an account or use an email or a social media login. 

If you’re ready to show off your flawless poetry, hit the button, and it will be copied to your clipboard immediately. 

Since poetry ought to be straightforward and undistracted, Haiku has no unnecessary features. But there are options to choose between a bright and dark theme in the app to provide the optimal visual experience at any time. You can also save your poetry progress and come back to it later. 

It’s free to download from the App Store .

Rhymer’s Block

picture showing Rhymer’s Block app's features

If you’re a poet or songwriter, you should check out Rhymer’s Block, one of the best smartphone poetry writing apps. Catechlysm Corp. developed the app to facilitate the rapid capturing of creative ideas.

Rhymer’s Block is more than simply a place to scribble down thoughts on a smartphone. It also has useful functionalities, like word frequency analysis, color-coded rhymes, and real-time rhyme recommendations. In addition to working when offline, Rhymer’s Block also has cloud synchronization. 

You can download Rhymer’s Block on iOS or Android devices for free. 

picture showing the features of Jotterpad, a poetry app.

You won’t have trouble composing beautiful poetry when you use JotterPad, another fantastic Android software. The software, created by Two App Studio Pte. Ltd., is a text editor that functions similarly to a word processor without all the bother. All you have to do to get started is enter your text and click “save.”

JotterPad is wonderful for poetry since it offers themes and multiple type phases so that you may customize your poem’s appearance. The free program features an in-built dictionary and may convert your work as a downloadable PDF. To make your work accessible from any location, you may save it to a cloud storage server. 

picture showing the Poetizer app

Poetizer is a great platform for establishing connections with poets all around the world. Fear not; authors of all skill levels may benefit from this program. You may use Poetizer for a wide variety of purposes, from publishing your poems online to being discovered by poetry lovers all around the world.

This software will help you write better poems in no time by incorporating a sleek and clean interface. Compared to other poetry writing apps, Poetizer stands out because of its crowd-funding component, which allows readers to financially back your work.

Poetizer is available to download from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store .

Poet Assistant

picture showing how Poet Assistant app works

Another popular poetry and prose software that has received much praise is Poet Assistant. It’s a collection of resources for making poetry writing simpler. The software features a thesaurus that may help you choose words that fit the tone of your poetry. There’s even a dictionary available if you need to look up the meaning of a term.

Unlike other poetry writing apps, Poet Assistant’s useful functions are accessible without an active internet connection. Additionally, Poet Assistant offers an area where you can type text and have your device’s text-to-speech engine read it aloud to you. 

The Poet Assistant is available to download for free, whether you have an iOS or Android device. 

Poetry Daily

This app sends you new contemporary poetry daily to read on the go. It features poetry from new books and journals, so if you like what you read, you can find the source later. You can sample an extensive selection of poetry at no cost. The application supports iOS, and you can get it in Apple’s app store.

Poet’s Corner

Poet’s Corner's app for poetry writing

Poet’s Corner is one of the best poetry-sharing applications for Android if you don’t have time to attend a live session. Wild Notion Labs’s free software gives poets a place to compose new works, publish existing ones, and discover the poetry of others.

You can get this app from Google Play Store .

Scrivener's app for poetry writing.

It’s a great tool for composing poems and other works of prose. You can select a starter template before getting down to business. The table of contents in Scrivener is very customizable; you may add, remove, and reorder chapters as you see fit. You can also save your progress as you change the text in the tool. It’s not free, but a trial period will show you if this program is right for you. The application supports Mac OS and windows.

Pen A Poem At Your Fingertips

Poets and aspiring poets will find these poetry writing apps immensely helpful in creating their poems. Thanks to these tools, you can expect to spend less time working and more time connecting with other creatives and get free-flowing inspiration.

Experiment with one of these apps to experience the benefits of modern technology and elevate your creativity to the next level.

Need a book writing app? We’ve previously covered the best book writing software and book writing apps .

This post was proofread by Grammarly . Try it - it's FREE!


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Home » Writing » How to Publish a Poetry Book on Your Own

poetry writing design

3. Decide on your poetry book format

Your book format, in part, determines your number of poems. If you’re planning on black-and-white pages of text, then you’ll only need a Trade Book, and probably the smallest size. If your poems correlate with visual work, like sketches, photographs, or paintings, then you may want to explore Photo Books, which offer a range of sizes to complement any kind of work.

4. Organize your poems

Put your poems in order, so that the reader experiences them in the order that lets the conversation unfold. Putting the poems together and in order should, itself, feel like you’re writing a poem of poems.

Poetry book double page spread

5. Edit your collection

Just like poetry is about creating the deepest meaning with the most powerful, minimal language, you’ll need to ruthlessly edit your collection down to its most essential poems. Take out any poem that isn’t intimately connected to your theme and the others. Save the remaining poems for promoting your book, or for your next collection.

6. Design your page layouts

Poetry books are unique in that the white space around your text is as important as your text. Remember your poems need lots of room to breathe on the page, so people have space to think. Don’t put more than one poem per page, unless it’s a deliberate decision to link two poems that way. Let each one have its own page, and if its longer, as many pages as it needs to surround each part with plenty of white space.

Poetry Book page spread

7. Create your poetry book

The best part of self-publishing a poetry book is getting to make all the creative decisions yourself. YOU decide on paper type, cover, layout, size—all of it. Just be mindful that your book creation decisions have a direct impact on your ability to sell your self-published poetry book. You’ll need to balance your creative vision with the cost of creation so that you can still have a profit margin AND sell it at a price your friends, fans, and followers will pay. To create a Trade Book, which is priced to sell, you’ll need to use Blurb’s flagship free tool, BookWright .

Pile of books

8. Upload your book and order a proof

No matter how many times you edit your poetry book, how many times you and other people have read it on the screen, there will be inconsistencies and gaps you can’t catch until you’ve printed it. Order a single print copy and check every page and every margin. Read it backwards, give it to a friend or professional proofreader—whatever it takes—to find all the mistakes. Your book cannot be edited or changed once it goes into distribution, so you’ll need to catch all the mistakes up front.

9. Revise and proof your book again

Once you’ve made your edits, order another proof and double check. Sometimes making changes causes new errors, and again, once your poetry book goes into distribution, it’s not possible to make any changes.

10. Set your book up for sale

Blurb books can be sold through the Blurb Bookstore , or they can be put into distribution through Amazon and others. Blurb Photo Books and Trade Books take different selling paths to Amazon, but if you’re working with a digital audience, they can buy your book from any link. How you set your poetry book up for sale depends on the best fit for your profit goals and your audience.

Paper aeroplane

If you’re a poet, this is the time to shine. You have more opportunities than ever to build your audience, and more platforms for selling your self-published poetry book. The work you are doing to give language to the human experience and illuminate those human moments belongs in the hands of your readers. Put your poems in print and open new channels—not only for profit—but for getting your words into the world.

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Writing Forward

36 Poetry Writing Tips

by Melissa Donovan | Nov 10, 2020 | Poetry Writing | 66 comments

poetry writing tips

Poetry writing tips.

Poetry is the most artistic and liberating form of creative writing. You can write in the abstract or the concrete. Images can be vague or subtle, brilliant or dull. Write in form, using patterns, or write freely, letting your conscience (or subconscious) be your guide.

You can do just about anything in a poem. That’s why poetry writing is so wild and free; there are no rules. Poets have complete liberty to build something out of nothing simply by stringing words together.

All of this makes poetry writing alluring to writers who are burning with creativity. A poet’s process is magical and mesmerizing. But all that freedom and creativity can be a little overwhelming. If you can travel in any direction, which way should you go? Where are the guideposts?

Today’s writing tips include various tools and techniques that a poet can use. But these tips aren’t just for poets. All writers benefit from dabbling in poetry. Read a little poetry, write a few poems, study some basic concepts in poetry, and your other writing (fiction, creative nonfiction, even blogging) will soar.

Below, you’ll find thirty-six writing tips that take you on a little journey through the craft of poetry writing. See which ones appeal to you, give them a whirl, and they will lead you on a fantastic adventure.

Have You Written a Poem Lately?

I believe that poetry is the most exquisite form of writing. And anyone can write a poem if they want to. In today’s world of fast, moving images, poetry has lost much of its appeal to the masses. But there are those of us who thrive on language and who still appreciate a poem and its power to move us emotionally. It’s our job to keep great poetry writing alive. And it’s our job to keep writing poetry.

What are some of your favorite writing tips from today’s list? How can you apply poetry writing techniques to other forms of writing? Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment!



Interesting article! 🙂 Thank you for writing this, Melissa!

Melissa Donovan

Thank you for reading it, Maria!


I find this very helpful in my search to write poetry with some help. I am finding lots of things on the internet. This is my favorite so far.

Thanks for your kind words, Sandy. I’m glad you found this article helpful!

Connie Brzowski

Nice article~ I started writing poetry on a regular basis back in November. Gave myself permission to write really bad stuff without hitting the delete key 🙂

I’d like to see recommendations for poetry blogs ands sites if you don’t mind sharing.

Hi Connie. In my experience, creative freedom (permission to write bad stuff) is essential in poetry writing. Most of the poetry sites I visit are online literary magazines, but I actually get most of my poetry from books. There are some excellent podcasts too — IndieFeed: Performance Poetry and Poem of the Day come to mind as two favorites.


Poem: Our Promise Kiribaku

You promised You promised me the world You promised You promised me your last name You promised You promised me heaven You promised You promised me Money You promised me freedom But now I am shackled by the pain of our broken promise


I have not written a poem lately. I don’t know why, but I only feel compelled to write poetry when I’m overflowing with emotion of some kind. Anger, passion, remorse, grief, love … the things that are so hard to contain in prose and need the stretchier boundaries of poetry to give them the room they need. Otherwise, I’m a down-to-earth, prose girl, and since, as a rule, I’m pretty even-keeled as emotions go … I don’t do the poetry thing very often. I think about it, though. Does that count?

Do you read a lot of poetry? I too tend to get the urge to write poetry when I’m overflowing with emotion, so I know what you mean. And it’s easy to drift away from poetry writing, especially when you’re blogging and writing copy! I don’t know if thinking about it counts, but I guess if your thoughts eventually lead to a poem, then it does count! Ha!

I really don’t read that much poetry, I like to think of myself as a creative person, but I’m still a prose girl at heart. Also, I have an aversion to things that rhyme (other than song lyrics) because sappy Hallmark cards pretty much ruined that for me when I was in my teens (grin).

Hallmark hasn’t exactly been a positive PR machine for poetry in general, has it? But what about Dr. Suess-ish rhymes? Nursery rhymes? Rhymes in song lyrics? Can you tell I love rhyming? I know what you mean about sappy rhymes and greeting-card poems. When I’m writing (or reading) I always look for clever and unexpected rhymes. That sort of levels out the cheesiness factor.


Hi Melissa,

Thanks for posting this list!

My illustrious poetry career was cut short around the age of 13, when I became more obsessed with journaling about boys than writing witty epic poems commemorating family members’ birthdays.

I’ve decided that this will be the year that I finally open up to poetry again! I’ll probably start up with writing in my signature “grade 6” style of poetry which is likely to include rhymes like “bee” and “pee” and classic highbrow toilet humour. Hopefully I can grow from there. I’m currently trawling through your previous posts and comments for poetry tips, terms and reading suggestions – the one on meter and musicality looks especially good.

You asked for topic requests in a previous post, so here are a few post suggestions that I’d be interested in reading about:

1. A list of your favourite poets or pieces? (I’m currently asking all my friends for suggested readings as a starting point!) 2. More poetic devices or techniques that you may know about?

Hi zz. I’ll have to think about compiling a list of my favorite poems and poets. Some of my favorites are ee cummings, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Emily Dickinson, and so many more…

Like you, I started writing poetry when I was 13 years old. Since then, I’ve been in and out of poetry writing over the years. It’s comforting to know that I can always return to it. Good luck this year with your poetry!


All the tips are most useful for anyone who wants to become a poet. But it is not easy to follow each and every step. Concentration and hard work is essential to reach the goal.

True, although it depends on the goal. I’ve known a lot of writers who write poetry solely for personal expression. Their poems are private, much like a journal. You’re right in that it’s not easy to follow every step, and becoming a (published) poet takes concentration and hard work.

J.D. Meier

I think I never write poems because I don’t know when a poem is a poem and when it’s not. I never figured out any simple criteria for something to be a poem.

Do you ever read poetry? I think that learning through example is the best way to figure out what is a poem, although I have come across a few poems that I would consider prose or fiction — these are often referred to as “prose poems.” If you wanted to try your hand at poetry writing, you could always go the traditional route and compose sonnets or haiku. Those are definitely poems.


Thanks for sharing your insights on poetry.It is a nice article.Surely to improve poetry,one has to keep writing and editing.

That’s true. Improvement comes from practice, so keep on writing.


I made a New Year’s resolution to write a poem a day…so far I have strayed from my resolution hehe…nice post

Aw, but you still shouldn’t give up. You can also double up to catch up. Good luck!

Thank you Melissa, I will catch up by doubling up. The hardest thing to do is to employ various poetical techniques in a hip-hop form and present them to an audience that may be too dense to grab or understand dedication to the craft. I have learned that there is a market for everything though.

Don’t underestimate your audience! One of the reasons I fell in love with hip hop was because of its poetry (Jay-Z in particular). Of course, then there was the dance element!


Hi Melissa! Thanks for this site.It feels nice being with people who loves to write and your tips are really very useful. I am a lover of poems and I have tried writing poems myself. I’ve tried to write poems everyday as suggested and I realized that it is good practice…although most of them are not really even worth sharing, but it gives me time to critic my own work and at the same time improve on them. Oftentimes I dream that someday my poems will entertain others the way some poems entertain me, but many I find my poems very shallow. And much as I would like to say that poetry is just a way of expressing myself and sometimes venting myself of some negative feelings so I have to keep them to myself, most of the time, I have the urge to share it to somebody. Sometimes, the beauty of the poem for me is when you are able to share what it is you want to express and somebody else understands it the way you wanted it to be understood. It may be vain, but I think it is also a great feeling when someone says he/she liked my poem. Is it normal for a writer?

Hi Mary. Yes, I think what you’re experiencing is completely normal for a writer. Often, what seems obvious or ordinary to you is fascinating to someone else. If we, as writers, write what we know, then it’s not necessarily new or exciting, but for someone who hasn’t walked in our shoes or lived inside our heads, our words are fresh and compelling.

Of course it’s a wonderful feeling when someone likes your poem! The trick is to also experience a wonderful feeling when someone likes it enough to offer suggestions for improvements: “I like this poem a lot, but it would be even better if…” That’s a sign that someone believes in your work enough to want to help you grow.

My suggestion is to read tons and tons of poetry. There is plenty of great work online, but be sure to explore the classics and literary journals too. Good luck to you!


i have written a lot of poems. where can one send these for publishing….

Hi Charlan. Your question is really beyond the scope of what I can answer in a blog comment. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of publications that accept submissions. But before you submit to any of them, you should read them. I recommend searching for literary magazines, poetry magazines, literary journals, and poetry journals. That should be a good start.

Rose Mattax

.35 read a poem every day.

Well, there are lots of great tips here, but I thought I’d share a source of poetry that allows me to read a sacred poem everyday. It’s great–stuff all the way from Rumi to Levertov. And it draws on all spiritual traditions. Here’s the link! http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/

Thanks for sharing that link, Rose. I’ll have to check it out. Great poetry is a bit hard to find online, so I appreciate your suggestion.

Lauren @ Pure Text

I love poetry. I recently got the word tattooed on my right arm. 🙂 Now that I’ve read this, I’m inspired to write a sonnet! Thank you!

Thank you, Lauren. Good luck with your sonnet.

Alex Marestaing

Though I write youth fiction now, I can’t get away from poetry and end up scribbling poetic lines down in my journal every now and then. I guess that stems from my teen music writing days, where I had notebooks full of songs, poetry, whatever. Poetry is such a free form of writing, kind of like dancing 🙂

I couldn’t agree more, Alex. My focus these days is more on fiction and creative nonfiction, but the poems still show up at will. When they do, I write them in my journal. It’s definitely like dancing (a magical kind of dancing).


Melissa Donovan, I could disagree with everything you said, but that would make me a fool. And I am no fool no sir re, although I act a bit like one from time to time. Yes Notebooks galore are stored in my little pad.

I don’t read a lot as I am creating a lot and posting and maintaining my Blogs and websites along with all their supporting Bookmakers and Indexers. Forums are great and workshops are better. But the thing I find most supportive is pretending to be your own Publisher your own Boss.

This is what I am doing day in and day out or whenever the spirits move me. I talk about mostly creating as I am not educated enough in the forms of other poetry just free verse and prose. I guess I should try others forms and I may at a latter date.

But right not I am trying to make my poetry work for me, as I am Home bound and disabled to a great extent. Well I enjoyed this write it states much truth for Poets and Poetesses a like, God Bless and may you Keep on Keeping On!

Donnie/ Sinbad the Sailor Man

I believe that reading is essential to good writing. Many writers have reasons for not reading, but I think the reasons to read are far more convincing. In fact, I think spending an hour a day reading and twenty minutes writing will improve your writing faster and more thoroughly than spending an hour and twenty minutes a day writing. Keep at it, Donnie.


hi melissa, i am 14 and i wrote my firt poem a month ago. since then my school had registered my name for a competition. i am not really experienced and i am worried since i have to write a poem on a topic given by thejudges, in an hour. any tips?

My first tip would be this: don’t take the competition too seriously. It’s an honor that you were selected. Most poets aren’t constrained by a one-hour time limit, but this is definitely an opportunity to have a little fun with your creativity and challenge yourself. I say, just go with it. If you can, give yourself about ten minutes to jot down words and images once you’ve been given your subject. Then spend about thirty minutes working that material into a poem. Use the remaining twenty minutes to edit and revise. Good luck to you, Ash!


These are really good advise. I love point 23 especially, to meditate before penning down. I’ve always find poetry writing a way to connect with my own spirituality. I have always been smitten by poems of others with their powerful rhyming and rhythm, which I always have difficulty pulling it off. It always seem to me that they have not one word wasted. What would you suggest to make an improvement on ths aspect?

The best suggestion I can offer you is to edit your poems slowly and thoughtfully. Poems can happen very quickly and many beginning poets are inclined to go over the poem once or twice, sweeping it rather than giving it a deep cleaning. Spend time with the poem. Look for alternative words in a thesaurus. If you’re having trouble with rhyme, use a rhyming dictionary. If the rhythm is off, use a metronome or play music (without lyrics) while you write, or study music on the side to get a sense of rhythm and meter.


Wow!!!! Found it just awesome.. Yeah I have written some poems, but haven’t published anywhere, so, how can I do it to publish on this site.. This made me, to devote myself more and more for my dream Thaanxx for the article

Hi Nibedit. This is not a publishing platform for poetry, but you can do a search for “poetry journals” and “literary magazines” to find a host of sites that accept work for publication. I wish you the best of luck with your writing!


Well-written tips Melissa! Reading a lot definitely helps you to produce better poetry. I always have a small book in my bag, so that I could write whenever I feel to 🙂

Thanks, Summer! I carry a tiny notebook too, plus my phone, which I can use if I’ve forgotten my notebook for some reason.


Hey, Melissa! I’ve read through your article, but I’m still stuck on how I’m supposed to write a poem with deeper meaning. It seems like every other poem I’ve ever written have the same words on it and I’m running out of ideas of how to start. I would’ve considered myself to be fairly good as a learning poet but now i think I’m doubting myself because i used to know more vocabularies and now i can’t seem to think of any witty writings. I would appreciate any suggestions you may offer.

My best suggestion is to read some poetry and read some books on the craft of poetry. I always found those to the best ways to break through a plateau. You can check my Writing Resources page, where I have listed some of my favorite poetry resources.


I’m 13 and I’m trying to put together a poetry book. It’s about being gay and losing friends because of it, people not liking me back, etc. So far the poems I have written are very good (in my opinion), although depressing. I sent one in to a literary agent asking if it was professional material and he said he would gladly help me publish it.

So, what I wanted to say is that I barely ever read poetry and I can still write well. My ideas, rhythm patterns, rhyme schemes, etc. are original, and I like that about them. I’m not going for perfect or a masterpiece. I just want to get my messages and emotions across, so I don’t read the poetry of others. I can see why other poets would, but I just don’t. I just let myself write, and then I edit and revise whatever I come up with. Just stop when it sounds good.

Also, I want to add that you shouldn’t be afraid to write dark or depressing poetry. Just write with the emotions that you feel inside. Almost all of my poems are depressing, but it doesn’t mean that I cut myself or anything. So don’t be afraid to do that. (Writing depressing poetry, not cutting yourself. Lol)

Good luck to all of you aspiring poets out there!

Thanks, Thomas

Thomas, I think it’s wonderful that you’re writing poetry at age thirteen (coincidentally, that’s the age I started writing it, too) and that you’re using poetry to express yourself and address important social issues. I applaud you!

However, I cannot get on board with the notion that one can write great poetry without reading it. You say you write good poems, but how could you possibly know whether your poems are good if you don’t read any other poetry? What, exactly, are you comparing your poems to? You may very well be a born talent, but I can assure you that if you study your craft, your poems will be a thousand times better.

You say “I just want to get my messages and emotions across, so I don’t read the poetry of others.” It sounds to me like you want the world to listen to you but you don’t want to listen to anyone else, which is too bad. I hope that in time, you’ll change your mind and decide to embrace poetry in full, which means reading it as well as writing it.

Teresa Albert

I do enjoy reading a poem everyday. I subscribed to Academy of American Poets Poem A Day. That way I’m sure to read a different poem each day delivered to my email. The last time I wrote a poem was a week ago. I need to get back into a better routine with writing poetry. I enjoy it very much and I do try to find different journals and contests to submit my poetry to at least a few times a year. Thanks for the motivation with this article.

I’ve always viewed poetry as the most artistic (and sometimes magical!) form of writing. I just wish more people would embrace it.

Tristan Paul

hi. i’ve been so empty lately. the thought of making poems is that it interests me, at my good times and bad times. i dont know if it is talent or something. they dont even know, my friends and my family. im a little shy and ashame about it. they would say poetry sucks, its not for you, they would never understand the feeling. this is what i really love to do . i want to play with words. they found me. help me understand it. thanks.bye

If you want to make poems, then make poems. Other people don’t get to decide how you spend your free time. Why on earth would you be ashamed about wanting to write poetry? There are always people who want to shame and bully people because they are different. Don’t let them control you. Can you imagine shaming someone because they like soccer or knitting?

Don As Tauno

Ms Melissa, Also “steal” techniques and then perfect them to your purpose.

Gayle De souza

Thank you so much for this article Melissa! I wanted to write a book on my life for so many years but decided it would hurt too many people, even though they never thought about their actions. I woke up one morning and wrote poems(literally) based on the way i felt which I felt was less hurtful but more direct and expressive! My poems are free form and I’ve been reading up on writing good poetry. Although I find it difficult to fit to the guidelines. This article really helps! Cheers!

Hi Gayle! I’m so glad you liked this article. I once had an idea for a book based on real life, but like you, it wasn’t worth it to risk upsetting people, and I had plenty of other things that I wanted to write. Actually, it was a good way to eliminate an idea at a time when I had too many of them! And I agree that poetry is the most expressive and cathartic form of writing. Thank you for your comment.

David Irvine

Thank you so much for this fantastic article Melissa. I have just published my first book and working on my next one. I’m always on the outlook for crafted information to help me as a writer. I have developed my own style when writing poetry but it’s always nice to dapple using different ideas and constraints. Thanks…

You’re welcome, David. Congratulations on finishing your first book. May there be many more to follow!

Grace A

This is encouraging. I’ve written a couple of poems but didn’t think they were good enough. Now I know there are really no limits. Thanks!

I’m glad you found this encouraging, Grace. As long as you stick with it, there are no limits. Keep writing.

Jeffery Williams

Thanks beloved friend & Poetess I appreciate all your tips Everyone is On point, Phenomenal brilliant Food for a, poetry writer & speaker To use.

Lovely! Thanks, Jeffrey.

D. J. Irvine

I’ve been writing poetry for years and have a collection of books on Amazon. When it comes to critique from your audience, it may surprise you! You might find teachers, other poets, writers and artists love your work. However, you will get feedback from people who hate your words. They will be harsh and leave you with a terrible review. This doesn’t mean you should stop and feel terrible, it just means you didn’t resonate with that person. Every type of creative work is open to good and bad feedback. It’s all part of the process. Just keep doing what you love.

This is so true. All art is subjective. I’ve had some interesting debates with people who don’t care for the poetry of ee cummings. Personally, I love his work. Unfortunately, reviewers often lack objectivity. For example, a trained and experienced reviewer can probably acknowledge the merit of a work while expressing their dislike (“it’s good work but not to my taste”). Some say you haven’t really “made it” until you get your first negative review. Writers can use feedback to grow and improve, but we should not let negative reviews impede our progress or determination. Thanks for your comment!


I lost my muse trying to find it again. So I wrote this

consciously asleep

Yellow is the sun Blue is the sky Hot is the desert Blank is the heart

Filled is the store Hungry do we wake

Many are they None is there

Alive we are Dead are we walking

Happy is the face Sad is the heart

Many are friends Lonely is he

Beauty is the body Ugly is the being

Island do we dwell Thirst are we

Kings are we born Shackles around neck

Love do they preach Hate do we see

Blessed are we born Cursed are we

Perfect is the earth made Chaos do we see

Mercy sowth the creator Vengeance ignited the creation

Noises do we hear Yet deaf are we.

Thank you for sharing your poem with us. Lovely.


This list is awesome. The one item on the list that renosontes with me would be supporting your favorite poets, your local poets, and read their marietial. I recently had a poem accepted by Spillwords called “Running with Scissors.” I’d like to attend a poetry slam in the future.

Thanks, Donetta! I too would love to attend a poetry slam. They look so fun!

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Posted on Jan 17, 2023

How Creative Poetry Book Layouts Can Elevate Your Verse

Poetry books pose a unique design challenge: to present a collection of poems in a visually interesting way that embodies their tone, mood, and atmosphere without distracting from the content of the work. 

The Reedsy marketplace has some of the most experienced poetry book layout designers in the industry — and we’ve gathered a few of their designs and insights to inspire and educate anyone seeking inspiration for their poetry book layouts.

Every design element reinforces the poetry’s intent

A successful poetry book's layout involves a simple and effective title page, introduction, and table of contents, images and illustrations arranged around poems, solutions to page breaks (when poems must be divided into multiple pages), a typeface that suits the spirit of the work, and visual playfulness if appropriate.

Typesetting poetry is often a collaborative process where the poet leads the designer toward a common artistic vision. It begins with establishing facts — Sebastián Cudicio , a Reedsy designer and illustrator with over 20 years of experience in the industry, always starts by asking the poet about three fundamental issues:

From there on, the layout designer is tasked with considering the mood and subject matter of the poems, ensuring that their visual choices are guided by these, or at the very least aligned in attitude.

Cover for Thomas Henry's book 'Embers on a Pyre', and a two-page spread showing a poem and illustration.

In the example above, taken from a poetry collection that deals with dark thoughts during times of struggle, Sebastián's layout is simple and serious, in line with the themes of the work.

The right layout design will only take liberties afforded to it by the text. "There is a potential for expanded creativity when designing the interior of a poetry book," says David Provolo , one of Reedsy’s most in-demand book designers. "But ultimately, the aesthetic and composition are directed by the nature of the poems (alignment, line lengths, and meter) and the poet’s vision."

In other words, the design can be a graphic re-interpretation of the poetry collection, a reflection of its essence through a different artistic medium. 

A double page spread with a short poem on the left page, and a minimalist drawing of a closed eye on the right.

In the example above, the poem refers to 'the space before me,' suggesting an unfilled expanse which the design emulates by almost pushing the entire poem to the top left-hand corner of a double-page spread. The layout, in this case, reflects the imagery and haunting tone conjured in the poem.

Typefaces reflect the poetry's tone

Those new to book design often marvel at the seriousness required when laying out a book, unable to understand how conscious and intentional every minor decision has to be. To illustrate how this works in the context of poetry books, we spoke with Theo Inglis , a graphic designer and typesetter.

When choosing a typeface for a poetry book, Theo first looks for something that suits the poet's tone and voice, whether that's based on weight or style. “Some poets like to work formally and build on the traditions of the craft, which tends to suit a more classical approach to typesetting and font choice. Others are more experimental, which suggests something more contemporary. The goal is always to find a typeface which feels suitable, inevitable even, rather than distracting.”

Title page designed by Theo Inglis, showing a blocky sans serif font taking up almost the entire page.

The above title page, designed by Theo, uses a bold, sans serif font to reflect the “ simple and sparse ” language of the chapbook , and to signal modernity.

When it comes to typesetting the poems themselves, the size of the text and width of the page provide Theo with one of his biggest hurdles. “Poets usually have set line breaks, which I have to replicate, which in some cases require lots of words per line – so a typeface that works at a smaller size and is a bit more narrow is a good choice." 

Poetry book layout example, showing a poem laid out in sans serif, modern type, narrow enough to contain various complex indentations.

In the PROTOTYPE example above, the poem contains unorthodox gaps and indenting. A particularly wide typeface may have distorted the poet's intended visual effect, encouraging Theo to choose a narrower font.

“The challenge with any poetry book is finding a format, style, and size that works well for every poem set exactly as the author intended."

The devil, as always, is in the details — and with a medium that hinges attention to minutiae, you can see why poetry books require such experienced and dedicated designers.

Think the designs in this post are cool? They’ve all been made by designers you can hire right here on Reedsy 😎

Give your poetry book the help it deserves

The best designers and typesetters are on Reedsy. Sign up for free and meet them.

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

Simple layouts create space for the poet’s ideas 

Though they take a long time to put together, poetry book designs should ideally look like the most natural, obvious solution, essentially effortless. In poetry, "what the reader will experience is the power of words, rhythm, and sometimes the space between words and intentions," says  Nuno Moreira . This attention to detail is why he often advises authors to err on the side of simplicity, insisting that simplicity is the key .

“To meet the challenge of allowing the words to shine on their own and be the main element of the experience, we should leave space for them to exist without constraints. For this reason, I find that interior layouts for poetry books should be clean, minimal, and have very little in the way.” 

A sleek, black double page spread with minimal white typeface, allowing the poem to stand out among all the empty black space.

In the example above, the sleek, stark, white-on-black design for More Than That creates a powerful visual impact while allowing the poem to stand out.

Publishing conventions can be questioned

The design can often dispense with standard typesetting elements in pursuit of simplicity. Nuno offers an example, drawing from his 15+ years of experience: headings, though they make sense in fiction books, can be distracting in the context of poetry pages, and can easily be omitted.

The two double-page spreads below were designed by Natalia Junqueira , Reedsy designer and illustrator, and show how potent simplicity can be — notice the lack of headings, as well.

Double page spread. The left page shows a blue illustration of paper cranes, the right page is a short poem without a heading, in blue font.

Natalia tells us that the color blue was integral to the author’s concept, as she associated it with her childhood, and the same applies to the paper cranes. For Natalia, it’s incredibly helpful when an author can express the feeling they hope to create with their poetry collection: “Is it happiness, sadness, a feeling of being lost, found, or non-belonging? This helps immensely to design the right mood from the start, so not only do the poems tell us a story, but the layout helps this story to be told.”

If you’re enjoying learning how a book comes together, check out our free course introducing the basics of book design 🤓

Free course: Book Design 101

Learn the fundamentals of book design, from creating beautiful covers to formatting and typesetting professional-grade interiors. Get started now.

Visually complex poetry takes center stage

Poetry takes countless shapes: from traditional forms like odes, villanelles, sonnets, and sestinas, to experimental and unconventional free verse or prose poems, there is limitless variety in the shape a poem can take on the page. To make things even more interesting, some poetry incorporates visual elements: take blackout and collage poetry, for example.

💡For a breakdown of 15 different poetic forms, check out our post on the many types of poetry .

When it comes to visually experimental poems or busy illustrations, the design's aim is often to simplify whatever can be simplified so that those other, louder elements can occupy the forefront.  

Poetry book layout example of experimental poetry, where blocks of poetry are rotated and overlapping.

In the Lance Olsen example above, the poet forces the reader to work to read the poem, rotating parts of the text. In response, Matthew Revert  keeps additional design elements to an absolute minimum, even omitting the page number on the right — when a poet makes you turn the book upside down, the design has to interfere as little as possible.

Double page spread where a striking illustration takes up all of the right page, partially spilling also into the left, where the poem is.

The two designs above and below, by Matthew Revert and Natalia Junqueira respectively, employ a similar strategy of simply creating space for strong visual elements to unfold, in this case illustrations. Generally, when a poet has chosen to accompany their work with photographs or illustrations, layout design tends to err on the side of minimalism, which these two examples reflect.

Two page spread, with a line illustration on the left page, and a longer poem taking up all of the right page.

Children's picture books keep typography simple

The same is true of children’s rhyming books, of course. Given the ages that picture books address (typically 0-6 years old), it’s likely that the words are being read out to them by an adult, while the children marvel at the gorgeous illustrations. For that reason, picture books don’t typically feature ornate letterwork or calligraphy: typography tends to remain as simple as possible, so that kids can be immersed in the sweeping landscapes of a double-page spread. 

Double page spread illustration of a group of animals in a forest at night.

Front matter can get a creative twist

A poetry book's front matter can also get creative: that applies to title pages, introductions, and copyrights pages . Section breaks occuring throughout the book aren't exempt, either, as you can see below.

Section title page, double page spread. Left side is a photograph of the clouds above, and the right is simply 'Part 1, Emotion'. The rest of the right page is blank.

Simple and thoughtful, the design above echoes the poetry's thoughtfulness by replicating the point of view of someone lying down staring at the clouds.

Classic design choices still have an impact

Laying out contents pages may seem like a practical matter, but it's very much affected by the mood of the poetry, too. The two contents pages below don't try to do anything crazy, respecting the mood and tone of the work.

Contents pages from two of Margherita Buzzi's designs. One slightly less conventional than the other.

The example on the left comes from a book of religious poetry where poems are accompanied by extracts of scripture. Reedsy's  Margherita Buzzi has opted for a clean, serious, and classic layout design.

Meanwhile, the design on the right balances creative freedom (page numbers on the left, poem titles centre-justified) and conventionality. This is a serious collection, dealing with trauma and heartbreak, but the design is gesturing toward peace and healing.

Though they still look fairly traditional, both of these have the right impact and fit in contextually.

Unusual choices introduce fun and make a point

The more playful and experimental the written work, the more wacky the typesetting ‘gets’ to be.

Creative contents page layout where the titles aren't listed along a vertical line, but a diagonal axis.

Noelle Kocot's  Sonnets , above, works within the sonnet form to subvert and violate conventions, and the contents' page's design mirrors this willingness to play the game while breaking the rules. Fun, right?

Contents page where the poem titles go round and round in a playful abstract shape.

This final example comes from a chapbook of non-linear poetry, where pages aren't numbered, poems are printed in a variety of colors , and the poet experiments freely. The wacky design of this contents page embraces the spirit of the poems.

Poetry books can be incredibly fun, challenging, and rewarding to design — which is why we always advise authors to put their work in the hands of professional book layout designers with experience in poetry books. We hope reading this post has helped you understand why!

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Reedsy | Poetry Editor | 2020-03

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