Composing a poem is a raw, noncommercial way of expressing yourself to the masses or maybe about making a point – personal or general. No matter what is your poem about or what is its purpose, there are certain key points that you can use to compose it. These points are experiential and will help you when you feel stuck, too emotional, too distressed, or even nervous, especially when you are about to publish.
DO NOT STRIVE FOR PERFECTION
This is the first of all points for a reason. Perfection is a myth when it comes to language and yet most of us strive for it day in and day out. One never scores 100 out 100 in language because there is always scope for improvement. And also because everyone has their own, personalized style when it comes to poesy. The aim of poetry is to express not impress, the perfection that you expect will come over time, with practice. Do not discard every poem just because it does not sound Shakespearean or something composed by Maya Angelou herself.
GO EASY ON LANGUAGE
It is very common to lose yourself in the thesaurus or big words from the language you are composing in, be it English or Urdu. Try to refrain if your target audience is the general masses. Read the poem afresh later in the evening or next morning just to check its readability. Lesser used or old words are sure beautiful and aesthetic, but they are more inclined to break the flow of your reader.
Thy eyes, such facade
Veiling thy morose heart.
And thy lips, though rouge
What treacherous art.
Your eyes, such artistic disguise
To hide all the pain.
Your lips, red as a rose
And a smile to feign.
While, the first stanza might sound more beautiful and more intense, an ordinary reader with a layman’s vocabulary will require a regular sneak-peak in the dictionary. This will only distract them and their interest in reading the poem will eventually be lost.
The second stanza might look too simple and not too decorated with words, but it is easy to understand. Readers will likely be able to make a connection with the second stanza and hence, will want to know what the poem is concerned about. The poem will be more relatable.
POEMS TOO REQUIRE BUILD-UPS LIKE STORIES
All stories are written to convey a message and tell a story. Poems also tell stories. Let’s take the example of the lines in preceding point. The gloomy eyes and the sad smile on the person’s face are clearly indicating that the person is upset because of an unknown reason. If I were to complete the poem, it would likely tell a story about what the reason might be or what the person was going to do about it.
Thus, always give build-ups to keep your readers’ curiosity and interest unbroken. Don’t give away too much in the very beginning.
REMEMBER YOU ARE A TOURIST
Many poets, after writing a very sad or emotional poem, are unable to detach themselves from the emotions. Several poems express and are written in a fit of extreme emotions; however, it is necessary to detach yourself from those sentiments as soon as your poem is composed.
Many of us pick any personal experience to build the emotion we are going to write about in our poems. For example, we revisit the memories of our worst break up, our most embarrassing moment, a heartbreak, and so on and so forth. But, you have to realize that we are revisiting those awful memories as tourists and it is important that we come back from that state of mind or else things are surely going to get emotionally unhealthy.
The best way of doing this is pay more attention to how you have made the use of those emotions, begin analyzing and distract yourself. Or maybe just go watch a movie or pat your back for writing yet another fabulous poem.
THE TECHNICAL AND LITERARY ADVICE
There are several points to remember while framing the poem:-
i. Use a lot of imagery – use all your sense and vividly describe the sight, smell, sound/noise, taste, feel/touch that are mentioned in your poem. Be visceral about them.
The half-lit candle, melting from its sides, glowed a yellowish orange light. (sight)
The sound of wind, as though, giggling anklet bells. (euphony)
The boy shook his head vigorously. (movement)
The smell of her perfume was as though a thousand lime-dipped roses. (Smell)
ii. Avoid clichés – eyes as bright as sun, face as white as snow, lips as red as a rose, blue as ocean, busy as a bee, etc.
Her face shone like a silver lining in an otherwise dull sky,
And lips were more red than the rouge of a Madame.
Eyes bluer than the rarest of all blue diamonds,
She stood there, unaware of her own beauty.
iii. Do not force emotions in your poem – Keep the sentiments real or wait until you get into the mood. Feigned and forced emotions will only repel your readers and your poem will not be taken seriously.
iv. Use metaphors, similes, alliterations, repetitions, allusions, dissonance, irony, oxymoron, rhythm, symbols, and other devices to create the desired effect. They give both aesthetics and effect to a poem.
These literary devices help in setting up the mood of the poem for the reader. A complete collection of various literary devices with examples and definitions can be found here Literary Devices | Literary Terms
Happy composing 🙂