The Secret to Writing Poetry — There Isn’t One!

By: Kristen Joseph


Hey, diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon;

The little dog laughed

To see such sport,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.

There seems to be a widely held misconception that poetry is boring. All poems are either cheesy nursery rhymes (like the Mother Goose classic above) or stuffy intellectual pieces that take an eternity to fully analyze and decode. I mean, who even writes poetry anymore?

poetA lot of people, actually. Especially teens. After conducted a poetry writing contest, data showed that 60% of the thousands of 14 to 19 year olds who participated found writing poetry to be a “freeing” activity.

You see, everyone seems to think that poems have to adhere to strict rules of rhyme and rhythm — the three lines of a tranquil haiku follow the 5-7-5 syllable rule and silly limericks have to follow a syllabic structure and rhyme scheme — but that is simply not true. Some types of poetry, like a sonnet or a villanelle, have a structure that must be followed in order for the poem to be qualified as a sonnet or a villanelle. But if you’re just beginning (or if you just enjoy the freedom of writing without having to follow specific rules), free verse is where it’s at.

Free verse poetry is exactly what it sounds like: free. No guidelines or gimmicks, vintage poetryjust you and your written thoughts. You don’t need complete sentences or any type of rhyme scheme, and you can even make up words.

The best thing about free verse writing is that you can write about anything that you want. School, something you’re passionate about, or even a completely random object can be the subject of a poem. It’s a great way to get rid of thoughts rolling around in your head, and you can literally create poetry anywhere, making it a fantastic way to eliminate boredom. If you want to read someone else’s work to see how it’s done, there are tons of bestselling poetry books out there, like Milk and Honey and the princess saves herself in this one, that are written from a young adult perspective and have earned 4 out of 5 stars, according to the customer reviews.

boypoet.jpgMost schools have some kind of writing or literary club, so if you want support on your new poetic adventures, I’m sure you can find some. If you can’t discover any in person, though, there are a significant amount of online forums, just for teens to post their poetry. Some websites, like, even offer college scholarships just for entering original poems into their “Scholarship Slams!”

So if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at writing your own poem, now is the perfect time to start.

Here, I’ll start writing with you. Remember, the poem doesn’t have to be amazing; it’s just an introductory piece. You may love it, you may hate it, but if you keep writing, I guarantee that you’ll get better and ideas will come to you more easily. Now, think of a word. Just one word. Write it down…and keep writing, until you run out of things to say. Here’s what I came up with for the word “intent”:

Intent yet furnished on

gilded desires

focused singularly on


Triumphant sounds resounding

on wavelengths of


cheers enveloping all

atmosphere surrounding


“Yes, you have


You are worthy.”



Your turn.


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