Piecing Together a Poem

The blank page is the most intimidating part of writing, and most of the time I don’t know where I’m going with a poem before I start it. It’s always been difficult for me to start writing a poem. Usually, I’ll use phrases or lines I’ve magpied-together and go from there, but this proves to be difficult when writing on one subject or even person. I tend to string together these pieces and produce something much different than what I set out to do. While this still works as part of my writing process, I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions or examples of how they begin their poems. It could be the style of how you begin your poems, such as looking at a picture or image to inspire your words, or listening to certain songs, etc.

While the exercises certainly work for me in terms of writing a poem of that style, I can never get started on my own. I sometimes look up different exercised online, but doing so makes me feel as if I’m cheating.

5 Replies to “Piecing Together a Poem”

  1. It’s funny because I have a really similar process for writing my poetry! Usually what will happen is me leafing through my notebook and stringing a bunch of lines together that seem that they may fit and maybe tweaking here and there so as to tailor them so that they’re cohesive. I have a lot of trouble actually sitting down and starting a poem and then finishing it all in one sitting. Poetry for me is very ongoing and I’m never really finished with a poem—I always feel as though any poem can be revisited and radically changed. Often I’ll morph several small poems into one.

    Something that usually sparks my interest is listening to people when they talk. This sounds very “duh” but actually listening when people talk can really really help to stimulate writing moods. Sometimes I’ll write a whole thing based off of one phrase someone has said. I also like to “interview” people by asking a bunch of questions and really delving into character and then writing something based off of that person.

    Hope this has helped a bit or at least given you something to think about!

  2. I’m still not sure how I start my poems, to be honest. Recently I’ve been trying to let the poem start itself. The most recent poem I wrote started while I was watching the sun from my window, and it just kept going until I was done. I’ve been trying to get myself into a place where I can let the words follow as the need to, and then I can go back and try to take out anything that gets in the way.

    It might be contrary to a lot of advice you’ll hear regarding writing process, and I could change my mind at any time, but I find that if you get yourself in a place where you’re not thinking much, and you’re observing with intention, a poem will start and it’s up to you to have the notebook there and keep it going.

    Try this little article ( http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/21/bob-dylan-songwriters-on-songwriting-interview/ ) and see how you like it. It doesn’t shed any light on how to get yourself into the supposed good writing state, but I found it interesting, and it partly inspired me to try it.

  3. I can relate to much of what you said. Getting those first few lines is tough, and for me, beginning a poem happens many different ways. Recently, I’ve actually been going through some writer’s block and have been writing much less often, and it’s been this way for about half a year now. To combat this writer’s block, my best bet is usually to go off of something older I wrote and reform it into something new. Even just taking a line or two from a poem I wrote a year ago and scrawled out in my journal and going off of that really helps. On a similar note, I’ll also draw a line or theme or interesting phrase from song lyrics and go from there. Like you mentioned with your own work, my poetry only very rarely ends with the same themes as I tried to start it with. For me, sticking through to the end of a poem takes a tremendous amount of determination.

  4. I can relate to much of what you said. Getting those first few lines is tough, and for me, beginning a poem happens many different ways. Recently, I’ve actually been going through some writer’s block and have been writing much less often, and it’s been this way for about half a year now. To combat this writer’s block, my best bet is usually to go off of something older I wrote and reform it into something new. Even just taking a line or two from a poem I wrote a year ago and scrawled out in my journal and going off of that really helps. On a similar note, I’ll also draw a line or theme or interesting phrase from song lyrics and go from there. Like you mentioned with your own work, my poetry only very rarely ends with the same themes as I tried to start it with. For me, sticking through to the end of a poem takes a tremendous amount of determination.

  5. I definitely understand the struggle of starting a poem. It can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially if a prompt simply isn’t speaking to you.
    I find that usually my poems stem from a certain idea that I want to communicate. Once I come up with the idea, I basically just write as many images and associations that come to my mind at once. Through this, it becomes clear what the core of the poem is, and what ideas work and don’t work. In this way, it’s almost like forming a sculpture. The mess of initial ideas on paper is the clay, and you slowly tear away the parts that aren’t necessary to find what the poem is really about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *