How do you write a poem?


Hey guys, Kyra here – how you going? I
thought after to my last video about writing a poem with me in 10 minutes,
that I would do a little follow-up video just talking about how I came up with
that poem. I’ve had some feedback that it was a little tricky and how the hell do
you write a poem anyway? I know that there are some people who watched that
video and they really wanted to jump in, but finding the words to make up that
poem was really hard and I’m gonna be honest – it is hard! I’ve been writing
poetry for a long time now and I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that I use
to whip stuff out that quickly, so I felt that I would sit down now and give you
some of those tricks and I’ll also show you how I came up with the poem that I
wrote in my last video. So I’m going to preface this by saying that obviously
these things that I do when I write my poems I’m not going to be a blanket, fix-all for writing poetry. That’s not how writing works. Some of
these things may work for you, and some things may not, so I don’t know, you
basically just have to try and you have to practice. It’s a thing of practice
which is the whole reason that I made my last video about writing a poem with me
because you need to keep doing it. I’m someone who, I sometimes stop writing
poetry, but I find that the more that I do it the easier it gets,
so my number one tip for how to write poetry is to keep writing poetry. Even if
it is hard and you think that it sucks and you and you kind of sit down to that
blank page and you’re like “what the hell am i doing?”, just keep doing it! Make a
habit out of it. So that 10 minutes that we did in my last video, try doing that
every day and just writing anything. So that is basically my second tip: just
write anything! So it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense
and it doesn’t matter if it’s completely off-topic and it doesn’t matter even if
it’s just a string of words that come to you randomly, write it down. These are
things that come out of your brain and you put them on a page, and sometimes
they’ll have meaning and sometimes you come back to it six months later and
you’re like wow there’s things in there that I didn’t realize I was saying at
the time and that’s kind of what poetry is. So yeah my third tip, coming off the
back of “just write anything”, is to pick one thing and try to go with it. If you,
for example, are writing from a prompt like we did in my last video, the prompt
being “apple”, so you start with one thing, you start with apple, and going back to
tip number two, just write anything, the first thing that comes into your head
when you think of apple. For me, that was sitting under an apple tree, for somebody
else it might be cutting up an apple, for someone else it might be when you
cut an apple open it’s got that pattern on the inside, it could be when you’re at
a grocery store and there’s just that sea of shiny red and green apples – those
are all things, and you just pick one. Pick one thing and describe that thing
and in doing so, see where it takes you. It might take you somewhere that it
surprises you, and this leads us to how I came up with my poem, the one that I
talked about in my last video (which I’ll link up here and down below). So the poem
was: “we lay beneath the old apple tree, like Edison, except it feels like all the
gravity has been sucked away from the earth and we’re just here, somehow,
floating with darling pink ladies circling our heads.” Very short! But so as
you can see this is the section of poem that I just read you and it’s also got
these couple of sections above and below which was
part of the process of me just writing anything and just picking one thing, so
the first part of what I had written was “we sit beneath trees”, so the first
thing I did with this poem was that free association; what does “apple” make me
think of? And it made me think of people sitting beneath a tree,
at first it was “I’m sitting beneath the tree” and then it was, no, hang on, me and
another person we are sitting beneath the tree, that kind of brings another
person in and it makes the reader feel part of the poem and it kind of adds an
element of… it’s a bit more interesting if there’s more people isn’t it?
So see here I’ve written “we sit beneath trees” and I’ve crossed out the word sit
because as soon as I’d written that I thought, no, we’re laying beneath the tree
and then I went to cross it out and write “we lay beneath the trees” and then
I thought, no, that’s not right, there’s something about that in my gut that,
just doesn’t feel right so I wrote sit, crossed out sit, t and I wrote sit, and
then so I came back to that free association, sitting beneath the tree
makes me think of Thomas Edison. He was a dude sitting beneath an apple
tree and the apple fell on his head right? So I’ve written “we sit beneath
trees, like Edison” and then, here, Edison made me think of gravity, because he
was sitting under the apple tree and he discovers gravity, right? So again it’s
just associating one thing with another, so then I wrote “the gravity of our
breathing. lifting us up and grounding us at the same time” and so I had that idea
of gravity going around in in my head but then I wrote that, and I thought, you know
what, I I don’t like that, so I’m gonna start again. But I did like the beginning,
so I rewrote down the beginning and then did write “lay” eventually, we lay
beneath the old apple tree, so I’m- as I’m coming back to the poem, I’m adding
little bits here and there because I can see I can be a little bit more
descriptive “we lay beneath the old apple tree, like Edison,” and then I kind of
stopped. I was like, how do I get that feeling that I’m getting from two people
sitting beneath this old apple tree, it’s not, I mean there’s some kind of like
romance or relationship there but how do I convey that in a way that’s not, I
don’t know, just a bit weird and cliched? So I went back to the gravity thing. So I
again I grabbed one thing I held onto the gravity thing and I wrote “except it
feels like the gravity has been sucked away from the earth and we’re just here.”
So at this point in the poem I kind of twist it to being more conversational
and it’s really like a long sentence so instead of these short sorta sentences,
it becomes “it feels like this” and “we’re doing this” and it kind of carries on,
because I think somehow in my mind that kind of made me think of the breathing
from the last reiteration of the poem that I did, so “the gravity has been
sucked away from the earth and we’re just here floating” and so then I thought
floating, “we’re just here floating”, floating kind of makes me think of being
in space. Nothing to do with apples at all but let’s go with it, we’re here
floating and then I thought, you know, I want to bring it back to the apples and
the gravity thing, like I just want to tie this up somehow, put a ribbon in it
and just it’s done. I started thinking about the apples too, how can I bring the
apples back in. I thought pink lady apples. I like pink lady apples. So I
thought, okay, we’ve got pink lady apples and then I’m thinking about space and
they’re all kind of circling around these two characters who are laying down on the ground, but they’re not- and then I thought, they’re not just pink lady
apples, how could I throw an adjective in there and make it a bit more interesting?
Kind of flesh that out a little more? Pink ladies, the word ladies, then I
thought, okay, um, something bit more feminine. So then I thought “darling”. So
then I came up with with “darling pink ladies circling our heads”, coming back to
that space idea. So then I read through that I was like, good, good, and then I
kept going, so I kept going, “do you remember the first bite?” and then I was
like okay, that’s getting a bit, getting bit sexual I think! And then I stopped
for a long time and tried to come up with the following, the following line
which from the bite I wrote, “I hate eating apples with my teeth, I always cut
the core out with a knife” which is something that I just do, personally,
because that’s my free association of “I hate eating apples so I always cut cut
them up” and at that point I realized that I was no longer writing the poem, I
was just writing down things that I do, and I realized that the part of the poem
that I liked with this middle part here. So I went back to it again and read
through it again, and you’ll notice that I’ve kind of slipped in this word right
here with a little arrow, because I felt like that line needed to be even longer,
and so then I extended it to “and we’re just here, somehow, floating” because these
characters don’t know how this is working, they’re, yeah, it just somehow,
they’re just here floating kind of just adds a little bit of mystery, romance
sort of stuff to it? I don’t know, and that’s it. I drew some little things
around it and went “this is the bit the bit that I like” and that’s the part that
I read out to you guys in the last video. Yeah I hadn’t actually gone through that
whole process in my head before I started making this, but I feel like a
lot of the way that I write poetry now, after having gone through that, is
that free association, it comes from thinking of one thing, writing down just the first thing that comes into your head,
picking one thing, and then going with it to another thing and then going to
another and then another and then another and then, looking back at all of
the things; so we’ve got the old apple tree, Edison, and gravity, the pink
lady apples, you know looking back on all that and going “is
there some way that I can tie all that together” which like I said at the start
of this video, is not easy, it’s really freaking hard! So you kind of have to get
into a habit and a practice of doing this but the more that you do it and the
more that you practice the easier it gets and, so, yeah, I got some good
feedback from my last video about this being a good exercise so I think I’ll
definitely do more of these in the future and I hope this video has helped
you guys to kind of pick up some different techniques of how you can
actually write a poem. It is not easy. Yeah if you’re someone who’s interested
in writing more poetry then I implore you: keep practicing and keep coming back
to these videos where we can write a poem together and share that. So that’s,
that’s it for this video, I hope you found it helpful. I’ve found it helpful
to sit down and think about my own practice like this, I don’t usually but
it’s been good, it’s been nice, I hope it’s been nice for you guys. Yeah, gonna
wrap it up now, thanks for being here and I’ll see you next time guys. Happy
writing and reading!

2 thoughts on “How do you write a poem?

  1. What a great walkthrough of your process! Extremely helpful. It would be great if you went through more of your poetry like this.

  2. I like this idea- letting us know how you thought about your poem as it was forming. This is more helpful for people learning to write than a how-to video. It's more vulnerable for you because you have to show all your changes and corrections, but that's how writing is, isn't it? You make mistakes and fix them. Thank you!

    (Side note: it was Isaac Newton who figured gravity out. I thought the reference to Edison was brilliant though, since it brought electricity to mind as well. If that wasn't intentional, never tell anyone. I won't.)

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