Become A Poet In Ten Minutes

Have you ever sat there staring at the paper, ready to write, but unsure where to begin? Want a solution that will overcome even the worst writer's block? Anyone can start writing poetry today using a few simple techniques.

One, two, ...?

Did you say or think three when you saw the above? If not, you certainly would when I asked you to fill in the blank. Your mind is a powerful machine that recognises or creates patterns. To make this work for you as a poet, you simply have to lay out the materials in an implied pattern, and let your mind do its thing.

The "materials," in this case, of course, are words or ideas. So let's round up some materials for an example. If you want to write a poem about thunderstorms, you might start by writing down relevant words, and then choose the more evocative ones: flash, blowing, rumble, night, deadly and rain, perhaps.

Now you set the pattern. In this case, we'll write a four-line poem, using one of our words in each line. We'll only decide if we want a ryming poem after we start. This is what I came up with after five minutes:

Rain stands still in the sky

Trees dance as in a painting

In a flash it is here and gone

And night grumbles at being revealed

It doesn't matter if most aren't good poems. You just have to write a lot of them, and then work on re-writing the ones with potential. With a little practice, you can write a dozen poems in an hour, then pick out the gems. My wife has had poetry published using Deal-a-Poem, a game we created based on this technique, so we know that it works, and it's fun as well.

More Tips For Fast Poetry

The technique above works because when your mind focuses on a word with the intent to use it in a line, it is stimulated into action. It wants to find the pattern - or create it. To make this work even better, try the following:

1. Start with words that are evocative and metaphorically rich. You'll be more inspired and probably write a richer poem with "howled," "torn open," and "festering," than with "said," "broken," and "rotten."

2. Use this or any other technique as a starting point only. If you have a great line already in mind, don't force one of the words from your list into it. If a poem starts to write itself, and becomes ten six-line verses, forget about the technique. Treat it as a tool to be used when you need it.

3. Don't sit there waiting for inspiration. Write anything NOW. Start with any topic, or even random words. The surest way to get inspired in your poetry is to start writing a poem.

Steve Gillman has been playing with poetry for thirty years. He and his wife Ana created the game "Deal-A-Poem," which can be accessed for free at: http://www.dealapoem.com

In The News:


Poetry and Literature Calendar (Sept. 21 to Sept. 27)
Buffalo News
Thursday, 5 p.m.: Villa Maria College Guest Writer Series poetry reading by Aimee Nezhukumatahil, author of the award-winning poetry collections “Miracle Fruit” (2003), “At the Drive-In Volcano” (2007), and “Lucky Fish” (2011), all published by Tupelo ...


Philly.com

West Chester U. cancels poetry conference, reassigns director
Philly.com
So he was heartbroken last week when university officials announced the school was removing the conference's director and canceling next year's event while the Poetry Center finds a new leader. "That's catastrophic," said Kennedy, a past keynote ...
WCU president: All is well despite poetry conference hiatusDaily Local News

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Wall Street Journal

Tyler Knott Gregson's Poetry Cracks Best-Seller Lists
Wall Street Journal
Montana-based poet and photographer Tyler Knott Gregson has written at least one new poem a day for his blog over the past five years. Every morning, he posts a photo with a caption and a haiku. Around lunchtime, he puts up a longer poem, composed on ...


Local poets invited to read at James Jackson Museum for worldwide poetry event
The Muskegon Chronicle
Hock, who is both a board member for the museum and a local poet, said the reading is a worldwide poetry event focused on bringing about change in local communities. The night will allow local poets to stand up and read some of their works that reflect ...


'Being Grand' columnist writes poetry about being a grandma
NewsOK.com
Essentially, the book is a collection of life stories told in what perhaps best could be described as free verse poetry, such as when she met a grandson for the first time, her thoughts when she saw pictures of a granddaughter, attending swim meets and ...


Jeremy Paxman on the Forward Prize for poetry
Financial Times
There is nothing common about the Common Reader but it's useful to imagine her, or him, as someone who is not a poet but who comes to poetry to be delighted, comforted or alerted, to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the everyday as profound, to have ...


Irish Independent

Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches
RollingStone.com
Leonard Cohen is our leading poet of love, wisdom, and sorrow – and according to the lyrics of Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea," the guiding spirit in Kurt Cobain's afterworld. We sat down with the singer-songwriter on the occasion of his 13th studio album ...
Leonard Cohen 'Popular Problems' - from the coolest octogenarian in music, and ...Irish Independent

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Poetry longlist for the National Book Award
Washington Post (blog)
“Gabriel” (Knopf), Edward Hirsch's devastating elegy for his son, who died at the age of 22, is among the books on the longlist for this year's National Book Award in Poetry. One of the most celebrated poets in the country, Hirsch wrote the popular ...
Poetry Longlist Announced for National Book AwardsABC News
National Book Award 2014 Longlist for Poetry Released, But It Missed These ...Bustle
Free Samples of the NBA's Poetry Longlistmediabistro.com

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Line by Line, E-Books Turn Poet-Friendly
New York Times
When John Ashbery, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, first learned that the digital editions of his poetry looked nothing like the print version, he was stunned. There were no line breaks, and the stanzas had been jammed together into a block of text ...

and more »

The Providence Journal

Book notes: Salve Regina professor a finalist for poetry prize, sets reading ...
The Providence Journal
Jen McClanaghan, an assistant professor of English and writer-in-residence at Salve Regina University, continues to garner praise for her poetry. Her debut collection of poems, “River Legs,” is a finalist for the National Poetry Series and The Dorset ...

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