WE all, aspiring poets, who have composed or at least have tried to compose poems, have been here. Sitting with a notebook on our lap, a pen in between the pages or between our fingers with its tip nibbling around our lips. Thinking and thinking and thinking with no real success of good words or even a clear idea about what we are supposed to write.
However, there are situations where we do know what we want to write but to do not know where to begin with and how.
Filled with lots of emotions, a great desire to write and one great idea, many poets sit twiddling their pens, picking on random words. Having been there myself, I want to share some useful tips regarding “How to compose your best poem.”
HOLD ON TO THOSE EMOTIONS
Poem is all about expressing. Cliché but that is how it is! This is the first step to composing your greatest poem.
We all know it perfectly well that every poem comes and must come through heart. You poem is supposed to make you feel something, only and only then your readers will engage in the poem emotionally.
Love that held me with such strong force
I knew not whether with joy or remorse.
Love had filled my heart
Joy was slowly letting down its guard.
Depending on the kind of effect you wish to leave on your readers, or the kind of emotions that you want them to indulge in, choose your words very wisely. And do not let go those of those emotions until you are finished with your poem. As I said it is important to feel the words yourself before you make others feel.
RHYMES ARE SECONDARY
I remember showing a set of poems to my lecturer and she said “poems are not all about rhyming random words”. Preach.
The ocean and the sky in my sight,
Seemed as if the earth was in a fight.
The ocean, the sky, and all of nature
Were, as if, at war.
Rhymes are not the only kind of decoration in poetry, there are many other elements to it such as imagery, allusion, metaphor and personification. Literary devices!
Focus on depicting the right scene that is in your mind, right expressions for what is in your heart and right order to put it all together. It will certainly make your poem sound beautiful, whether rhyming or not.
GIVE IT TIME
It took Dante 12–13 years to complete Divine Comedy. Rome was not built in a day. Do not try to finish your poem, try to give time and write it in parts. It is better to write beautiful Cantos in 5 days or even weeks, than write a broken poem, missing the affect at several parts, and using forcefully stuffed words.
When I say take your time, I do not suggest that you do not write at all meanwhile. Let’s take an example, when a cricketer does not have a match to play, he does not stop practicing. While, you have kept your that major work at halt, do not keep the Muse waiting. Write gibberish but, write. Practice words, practice expressions, and practice vocabulary.
READ BEFORE YOU COMPOSE
“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.
– Virginia Woolf
The more you read, the more smoothly your verses will flow. Read the genres that you write for (Gothic, Classic, Confessional, Romantic and Victorian), read the language you use to compose poems (is it Victorian English, Shakespearean English, old English, Modern English or perhaps, French).
Read the style, and about that style. Research on your genre. Read. Read. Read.
If I missed any points, you can add to them by commenting in Tête-à-tête section below.