25 ways to become a better poet
by Day Williams
1. Ask God for help and guidance.
2. Read the Psalms in the King James Version of the Bible. This is language unparalleled in beauty.
3. Read Shakespeare. Or at least watch the videos of plays.
4. Keep a daily journal.
5. Try your hand at the traditional forms such as sonnet, villanelle, sestina, blank verse, and haiku.
6. Take a favorite song and put it in your own words.
7. Keep a journal of poems and phrases you particularly like, from whatever source.
8. Write a poem about a strong emotional experience: your first kiss, your wedding, your first child, your favorite toy or teacher, the death of a loved one or a pet. Pour out all your feelings. Then rewrite it.
See Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz.”
9. Do “cluster” brainstorming. Start with a word or subject, and write down other words and topics that spring from that. You’ll find material for a poem.
10. Read a collection of poems.
11. Use a thesaurus or word menu to find colorful replacements for words in your poems.
12. Write your name down a piece of paper. Then write a poem using the letters of your name to start the lines.
13. Study a favorite drawing, painting or photograph for 15 minutes. Then write a poem about it. See “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by William Carlos Williams.
14. Write a humorous poem about a task you find distasteful such as cleaning the house.
15. Write a seasonal poem. See “In Just Spring.”
16. Write a poem inspired by an article in today’s news.
17. Write a poem about your favorite TV show or movie.
18. Have you ever had a near-miss with death? Write a poem about it.
19. What is the furthest you’ve ever been from home? Write a poem about it.
20. Then write a poem about home itself.
21. Write a poem about someone who is very different from you: A different race, from a different country, with a different language.
22. Surely you’ve had a big disappointment some time. Write a humorous poem about it.
23. Pick three words at random from a book or books. Write a poem using those words.
24. Have a grudge against somebody? Write a serious poem about it.
25. Then write another poem about the grudge with a lighter slant. “Dr. Fell.”