P Poetry Explained

How To Write a Poem About Yourself

It might seem intimidating, but when your break it down into steps, writing a poem about yourself can be quite simple and fun.

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Writing poetry is no easy feat. If it was, then everybody would be doing it, right? No, in fact, writing a poem can be easy. After reading through our steps outlining how to write a poem about yourself, you’ll have no reason to be nervous about the process.  They include practicing free writing, sharing your work with friends, and more.

How To Write A Poem About Yourself


Freewrite

The concept is really simple. The writer clears their mind and doesn’t worry too much about punctuation or whether the writing makes any sense. You certainly don’t want to be considering rhyme and rhythm, and you just write. Write down anything that comes to mind. This could include images from your present or past, feelings you often deal with, or relationships that have defined your life. There are no real limits.

The benefit of this is that it allows your creative mind to flourish.

Start Editing

The freewriting material will hopefully give you a good starting point for your poem. Remember this is about you, so nobody can tell you it’s wrong. With this base, you can start to edit the poem into something that you’re proud of.

It’s helpful to start cutting out lines that you’ve written and placing them in piles. You can have a discard pile for any lines that aren’t accomplishing what you want. And then you can group them together according to their theme. If you have three or four lines grouped together, these could potentially form a stanza. It is useful to think of a stanza as a way of grouping together ideas (but it’s not always so structured). You can then start to put the stanzas together in an order that feels correct, and here you will have what is effectively the first draft of your poem.

Force Creativity

There is an opportunity now to be creative in a slightly more controlled way. Look at what you have. Do you have stanzas with unequal amounts of lines? Does this feel okay? If not, create new lines to make them equal. If you are a person who craves order, then your poem could have equal length stanzas. If not, the structure could be totally haphazard. Or perhaps you could have it begin regimented and then become more scattered to represent a personal crisis. Think about the story you want your structure to tell, and then begin to work your words into it.

Word Choice and Semantic Field

Now, you need to delve into the poem and really think about it on a word-by-word level. It might help to use a thesaurus and start analyzing your use of adverbs and adjectives (or describing words). These can usually be exchanged and are important because they can change the feeling of the poem. For instance, the phrase “broken down” and the word “stuck” might mean the same thing, but “broken down” can also connote a mental breakdown.

A semantic field is when a piece of writing contains a collection of words that are all related to a theme to create a mood. So, if you wanted to write a very bleak poem, you might use the semantic field of death and use phrases like “there were grave consequences” or “I had to bury my emotions.” By using this language, you can create a bleak feeling through allusions to experiencing a dark place. It is this use of language that could potentially elevate your poem.

You could just as easily use words that pertain to light, hope, and happiness if your life is going really well, and you want to write a poem that has a generally upbeat mood.

Determine the Rhythm and Rhyme

Many claim that a poem isn’t a poem if it doesn’t rhyme, but that’s certainly not the case. Rhyme can elevate poetry, but it’s important to ask yourself, why are you using it? What does it do? Rhyme can give poetry a flowing feel which makes it pleasing on the ear but is this necessarily something that you want to do? If you are writing a poem about how great your life it then yes, potentially you do. However, if things are tough then the way your poem sounds could reflect that. A neat way to create an unsettling feeling in poems is to have sentences run on to second lines (this is known as enjambment). Mix this with sentences that stop in the middle of lines, and it will create a naturally awkward feeling.

Using these techniques, you will hopefully have your poem’s form, rhyme pattern, and content all suggesting the feel that you are trying to put across, and this will make your poem powerful!

If you are nervous about using rhyme, you can find great apps for your phone which will highlight full and partial rhymes for whatever words you want. If you are worried about the rhythm of your poem or about how well it flows, read it aloud. If an end rhyme sounds clunky, then change it and play around with the word order/choice until it starts to sound good.

Edit and Revise

Now that you have most of the poem complete, it’s a good time to take a critical look at what you’ve done and work on those finishing touches. This means you’ll need to fix any grammatical errors and ensure that the words you’ve chosen are the best possible choices.

It’s during this time that you might decide to share your poem with someone else. By reading it aloud or having someone else read it to you, you’re going to be able to hear anything that sounds strange or awkward. This might inspire you to rearrange some lines or remove others entirely.

Conclusion

With your poem finished, you might decide to share it online. You could post it to a forum, share it on Poem Analysis, send it to friends, or even try to get it published digitally or within a physical publication.

FAQs

What is a good way to start a poem?

There are many good ways to start poems. You might start with an abstract image, one that evokes the general atmosphere you want in your piece. Or, you might throw the reader immediately into a dramatic scene, a technique known as in medias res.

How do you write a short poem on your own?

Writing short poems on your own is simple. Find your inspiration, do some freewriting, remove and add elements as needed, choose a structure (if you want one), and revise, revise, revise. It’s also helpful to share your work with someone else.

What’s the easiest poem to write?

Free verse poems are quite easy to write. But, if you want a form, perhaps you may have success with an acrostic or limerick. Haiku poems are also quite popular due to their brevity and clear rules.

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About
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Poem Analysis team member ever since Novemer 2015, providing critical analysis of poems from the past and present. Nowadays, he helps manage the team and the website.
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