In the complex world of human communication, poetry is one of the most impactful elements. It combines our ideas, feelings, and life experiences in a beautifully arranged sequence of words. It’s an art form that, when well-executed, can be a method for emotional release, a way for intellectual engagement, and a means to see life from different viewpoints.

Yet, the desire to write poetry often finds itself at odds with the daunting task of putting abstract feelings into concrete verse. This article will illuminate the path toward learning how to write a poem.

How to Write a Poem

First, let’s define poetry

Now that we've established the importance and power of poetry, let's delve deeper into its core elements and understand what truly makes a poem by looking at the poetry definition.


What is poetry?

Poetry is a literary art form that uses rhythm, rhyme, meter, and figurative language to express human experiences with emotional depth and artistic elegance. Poems are crafted compositions of words, arranged to convey specific themes or emotions, often with a rhythmic pattern distinct from prose. They can vary in structure from tightly defined forms like sonnets to more flexible free verse, all aiming to evoke emotion and provoke thought. Using metaphors, similes, personification, and imagery, poetry communicates thoughts, feelings, and perspectives in a personal yet universal way, offering unique insights and challenging readers to see the world differently.

Characteristics of poetry:

  • Imagery
  • Rhythm
  • Figurative Language
  • Form

Learning How to Write a Poem

Elements of a Poem

Poetry is a craft that employs various elements to create a unique and captivating work of art. These elements interact with each other to convey the poet's message and evoke the desired emotional response from the reader. Let's delve into these elements one by one.

Understanding Verses and Stanzas

Verses and stanzas are the basic building blocks of a poem. A verse is a single line in a poem, while a stanza is a group of verses arranged together to form a distinct segment within the poem, much like a paragraph in prose

The arrangement of stanzas and verses can influence the flow and rhythm of the poem, as well as its visual presentation on the page.

Stanzas and Verses  •  Tips for Writing Poetry

The Role of Rhythm and Rhyme

Rhythm and rhyme are musical elements of poetry. Rhythm refers to the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line, which gives the poem its beat. Rhyme, on the other hand, is the repetition of similar sounds in words, usually at the end of lines.

These elements add a melodic quality to the poem and can enhance its emotional impact.

Significance of Imagery and Metaphor

Imagery and metaphor are powerful tools for conveying meaning in poetry. Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things, providing deeper insight or highlighting their shared qualities in a unique way.

What is a Metaphor  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Imagery involves the use of vivid and descriptive language to create mental pictures or sensations, enabling readers to experience the poem more fully. 

The Power of Alliteration, Assonance, and Consonance

Alliteration, assonance, and consonance are stylistic devices that contribute to the sound and rhythm of a poem. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds, assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, and consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds anywhere in the word. These devices can lend a lyrical quality to the poem and enhance its aesthetic appeal.

Importance of Tone and Mood

Tone and mood play a crucial role in shaping the reader's emotional response to a poem. Tone refers to the poet's attitude towards the subject, which can be discerned through their choice of words and stylistic devices. 

Mood, on the other hand, is the atmosphere or emotional setting created by the poem, which influences how the reader feels while reading. By carefully manipulating tone and mood, poets can guide their readers' emotional journey through the poem.

How to Start a Poem Based on Form

Types of poetry

The beauty of poetry lies in its diversity. There are numerous types of poetry, each with its own unique structure, style, and thematic focus. Here are some of the most popular forms:


A sonnet is a 14-line poem that originated in Italy and was later popularized by Shakespeare. It traditionally explores themes of love and beauty and is known for its precise structure, which typically includes a specific rhyme scheme and meter. An iconic example of this is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. 

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

 So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Free Verse

Free verse poems do not conform to any specific rules regarding rhyme or meter, giving the poet full creative freedom. This form allows for greater flexibility and experimentation in terms of structure and content.


A limerick is a humorous five-line poem with a distinct rhythm and rhyme scheme (AABBA). The first, second, and fifth lines are longer, while the third and fourth lines are shorter.


Ballads are narrative poems that tell a story, often set to music. They are usually composed of four-line stanzas (quatrains) with a regular rhythm and rhyme scheme.


Originating in Japan, a haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count. Haikus often focus on nature and the changing seasons, capturing a single moment or observation in a concise and impactful way.

How To Write A Poem  •  Haiku (Step-By-Step Tutorial)


An elegy is a mournful or reflective poem typically written in response to the death of a person or an expression of sorrow over a personal loss. It often employs a formal tone and structure.

Each type of poetry offers a unique way to express thoughts, feelings, and stories, providing endless possibilities for creativity and exploration.

Whether you're drawn to the brevity of the haiku or the storytelling potential of the ballad, there's a poetic form out there to suit your personal style and voice.

How to Write a Poem Step by Step

Steps to writing a poem

Writing a poem can be a deeply personal and rewarding process. Here are the key steps to guide you on your poetic journey:

1. Finding Inspiration: Drawing from Personal Experiences and Observations

Inspiration is the first spark that ignites the process of writing a poem. It can come from anywhere — personal experiences, observations, feelings, or even a single word or phrase that resonates with you. Keep an open mind and let the world around you inspire your creativity.

Ocean Vuong  •  Tips for Writing Poetry

2. Choosing a Theme or Subject: What Do You Want to Express?

Once you've found inspiration, it's time to decide what you want to express through your poem. This could be a specific emotion, a personal story, a philosophical idea, or a commentary on societal issues.

Your theme or subject will guide the direction of your poem and provide a focus for your creative efforts.

3. Deciding on a Type: Which Form Suits Your Message?

Next, consider which type of poetry best suits your message. Are you telling a story? A ballad might be appropriate. Sharing a brief, poignant moment? Consider a haiku. Want to break free from traditional structures? Try writing in free verse. The form you choose can enhance your theme and make your poem more impactful.

4. Crafting the First Draft: Letting Your Creativity Flow

Now it's time to start writing. Don't worry about making your first draft perfect — just let your creativity flow. Write down whatever comes to mind, focusing on expressing your thoughts and feelings as authentically as possible.

5. Editing and Refining: Honing Your Poem to Perfection

After you've written your first draft, it's time to refine your poem. Look for ways to improve its rhythm, imagery, and language. Remove unnecessary words, experiment with different poetic devices, and ensure that every line contributes to the overall theme.

6. Review and Revise: The Importance of Multiple Drafts

Don't be afraid to write multiple drafts of your poem. Each revision is an opportunity to improve your work and bring it closer to your vision. Be patient with yourself and take the time to craft your poem to perfection. Remember, writing is re-writing!

Sharing Your Work: Taking the Leap and Putting Your Work Out There

Finally, consider sharing your poem with others. This can be a scary step, but it's also incredibly rewarding. Whether you share your work with a trusted friend, submit it to a literary magazine, or post it on a poetry blog, putting your work out there is a brave act of self-expression and a crucial part of the process.

Now that we've grasped the fundamental steps to crafting a poem, let's explore the different approaches to poetry that can shape your unique writing journey.

Understanding How to Write a Poem

Different approaches to writing poetry

Learning how to write a poem takes an open mind to creative approach. Poetry, like any other form of art, does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. It's a personal journey that varies from poet to poet. Here are some ways you can approach your poetic endeavors:

The Observational Approach

Some poets find their muse in the world around them. Observing nature, people, or everyday situations can inspire profound thoughts and imagery. This approach encourages you to experience life with an open mind and heart, transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary poetry.

The Stream-of-Consciousness Approach

For poets who thrive on spontaneity, the stream-of-consciousness approach is ideal. This technique involves writing thoughts as they come, without concern for structure. It's like a dialogue with your inner self, leading to unexpected connections and authentic poetry. It allows you to tap into your subconscious and reveal hidden ideas, offering new paths to creativity.

What is the Stream of Consciousness?  •  How to Start a Poem

The Emotional Approach

Poetry often serves as an outlet for expressing emotions. Whether it's love, sorrow, joy, or anger, channeling your feelings into words can create powerful and relatable poems. This approach requires introspection and honesty with oneself.

The Philosophical Approach

If you're inclined towards pondering life's big questions, the philosophical approach might suit you. This style involves exploring concepts like existence, morality, or the human condition in your poetry. It challenges both the poet and the reader to think deeply and critically.

The Experimental Approach

For those who like to push boundaries and defy conventions, the experimental approach is ideal. This could involve playing with form, structure, or language to create unique and innovative poems. It's all about breaking rules and creating something truly original.

Remember, these are not rigid categories but flexible strategies that you can mix and match according to your preference. The beauty of poetry lies in its flexibility and the freedom it offers the poet. 

In conclusion, poetry writing is more than an art form; it's a journey of self-discovery and profound expression. The joy and fulfillment it offers are unique. If you're a budding poet, remember every masterpiece starts with a single word. Embrace the learning process and know that each word penned brings you closer to your poetic voice.

Up Next

Types of Poems and Poem Structures 

As we mentioned above, one of the key steps to writing a poem is having a solid understanding of poem structure and form. To learn more about poem structure and types of poems check out our next article. 

Up Next: Types of Poetry →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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