Poetry-writing Hints for Kids, Teachers, Anybody


1. In order to write poetry, read lots of poetry!
2. Write your words in regular sentences - then take out the unimportant words and maybe add a few important ones. (see ** below)
3. Experiment with the length of your lines. (see ** below)
4. Use comparisons. Tell what something reminds you of - maybe the moon reminds you of a pizza pan. You could say "The moon shines like a pizza pan."
5. Use personification. Pretend what you are writing about is human. "The wind munches the leaves..."
6. Let your poem do what it wants. Don't try to hold it too tightly to the subject you started with. Let it lead you where it wants to go.
7. Try "being" what you want to write about. Pretend you are a cat... a car... a basketball...
8. Keep a journal.
9. Keep paper and pencil with you at all times.
10. Keep trying!
11. Don't try too hard. Just write. It doesn't have to be "good". But every once in a while, it may be!
12. Use repetition. Or don't.
13. Use rhyme. Or don't.
14. Use lively verbs.
15. Use interesting words, but don't strain too hard for the unusual.
16. Love words!
17. Write about what you really want to write about.
18. Revise - but not too much.
19. Write freely. You can always change it later.
20. See hint number one!


  (**) If, at first, you can’t make your writing sound like a poem, try writing your idea out in regular sentences. Then -- cut, cut, cut! Leaving out unnecessary words is a big part of making your writing sound like a poem instead of a story.
  For instance:
  You could change: It is snowing this morning.
  To: Snow this morning
  You could change: There are lots of red cardinals at our bird feeder.
  To: Our bird feeder is red with cardinals
  You’ve gone from 15 to 10 words.
  Now, read it out loud, and leave out that word “is”:
  Snow, this morning –
  Our bird feeder
  red with cardinals

  Only nine words – and it sounds more like a poem!
  Also – putting three words on each line gives it a
  sort of unity . . .and it makes it look like a poem, too.

Some Things to Remember:

A poem doesn’t have to be long.
A poem doesn’t have to be serious.
A poem doesn’t have to be about important things.
A poem doesn’t have to rhyme.
A poem doesn’t have to be shown to anybody.
A poem doesn’t have to be funny.
A poem doesn’t have to have a message.

BUT…
A poem can be any of these things, and many more.

The only thing a poem really has to do, is to please you, the writer, and make you glad that you wrote it.

Some Ways to Catch a Poem

Fool around with words. Lots of times when I want to write but am having trouble getting started I just begin fooling around with words. I make word lists about certain subjects --maybe name as many animals as I can, list all the words about the beach that I can think of, or write down whatever words come into my head. Sometimes I make lists of rhyming words or words that alliterate.. Doing these things often loosens me up so that suddenly a poem starts!

Just write. Don’t worry about making a “good” poem. Just write. Sometimes, what you write will almost be a poem with no more work. Other times, you can go over what you’ve written later on and turn it into a poem. Sometimes, a few words or sentences will pop out at you and those few words or sentences will make the start (or the middle or the end) of a new poem.

Sit Quietly. Sometimes when you want to write a poem it helps to just sit quietly and wait for a poem-idea to appear. Sit outside, or look out the window, or around your room. Pretend you are a bird-watcher or a fisherman. Be attentive but relaxed. When you “see” a poem starting in your mind or feel the tug of a poem wanting to be written, capture it gently. Try writing it slowly, lazily.

Take a walk. Often, poetry ideas come to me when I am walking. Or while I am doing the dishes, gardening, straightening the house. I’ve had them come when I was painting, weaving a basket, working with clay. It seems as if doing something else --not thinking about poetry --often inspires poems to make an appearance.


  Twenty Anthologies to Browse
  All sorts of poems – funny, sad, thoughtful, silly,
  about all kinds of subjects, by bunches of different
  writers – including some of mine.

  A Book of Fairy Poetry
  Time for a Rhyme
  The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
  Home to Me
  The Beauty of the Beast
  Dirty Laundry Pile
  I thought I'd Take My Rat to School
  Whisper and Shout
  My America, A Poetry Atlas of the United States
  The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
  The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
  Piping Down the Valleys Wild
  On City Streets
  Sing a Song of Popcorn
  Dinosaurs
  You and Me, Poems of Friendship
  Knock at a Star (includes great writing tips)
  This Delicious Day
  Sunflakes
  Surprises (An I Can Read Book)


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