Four tips for writing short, simple poetry

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Posted: 
August 6, 2018

Poetry has never been an easy art form to master, and in my opinion, it has unfortunately lost something of its value over time. In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, poetry was not at all popular, especially among teenagers and young adults, who have far less time nowadays to read and analyze poetic texts. However, with the advent of social media, poetry has become popular once again: everyone is sharing and publishing poems with a single click.

But today’s poetry is very different from that of Elizabeth Browning or John Keats. Because of its simplicity and brevity, it appeals to young people who don’t have time to read. In fact, modern poetry can be simply a quote, a short tweet (for Twitter users) or a single verse. Haikus (Japanese poems of three lines) are also very popular.

The way poetry has evolved leads us to ask the following question: how do you write short and simple poems in the 21st century? Here are a few tips for those of you who want to become poets.

1. Be yourself

I’m sure you hear this often! It’s true that it’s hard to be completely yourself, without worrying about what other people think. And it’s even harder to keep yourself from overthinking the writing process itself: “Ah, what I’ve written is terrible! No, it’s too complicated! Maybe writing isn’t for me?” Not everyone has the same thoughts going through their mind, but insecurity is inevitable. However, it’s important to remember that poetry affects each of us differently. There will always be people who like what you’ve written and people who don’t. That has nothing to do with your writing style. Each person’s tastes are unique. So, when you write, be honest and write about your life experiences. Because the more open you are with your readers, the more your emotions will shine through your writing, and that’s what matters most when you write poetry.

2. Look for the tragic in daily life

This advice comes from my creative writing professor at university. What he meant was that sometimes we work too hard to find a brilliant metaphor or an unexpected ending, whereas original material is often found in ordinary things, in routine, in daily life. Everyday life should be one of our greatest inspirations, since we can’t escape being part of it.

3. Avoid clichés

How many songs and poems include words and expressions like “I can’t live without you,” “heart,” “love,” “my heart is broken,” etc.? It would be far too difficult to count them all, because there are millions! Over time, these words and phrases have lost their originality and seem really trite, even stale. Even if you want to write simply, avoid cookie cutter creativity. Otherwise, your readers will have a sense of “déjà vu” when they read your poems.

4. To become a writer, be a reader first

This tip should have topped the list. It’s clear that before you can become a poet, you must read poems and all other genres of writing: novels, memoirs, plays, newspapers, magazines, short stories, etc. Reading various genres will open your mind and help you nurture your creativity. Reading will show you that there are a thousand and one ways of writing and that they’re all good. You’ll see that you can mix more than one style and register of language, you’ll discover great writers, and you’ll learn new expressions that you can later adapt for your own use.

That’s it? Only four tips? Yes, but these four tips are actually four steps, and you must take the time to follow them carefully. They’ll help you evolve as a poet, and you’ll find yourself rereading them time and again, whenever you need inspiration. And if you have any advice of your own for aspiring poets, feel free to share it with us. On that note, I wish you happy writing!

Translated by: Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada

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About the author

Maria Magdeleina Lotfi

Maria Magaleina Lotfi graduated from McGill University with a degree in translation, but her passion is writing. In fact, she’s already published a collection of poetry: HoneyFace, Hers Truly. She defines language as the ability to express onseself in boundless ways.

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Great comments that make me feel like picking up my pen and adding poetry back into my regime again!!

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