How to write a poem (page) – 5 poetry writing tips


Hey there, Anna from Girls on Key. How are you today? Today’s video is about writing a poem for the page. I’m gonna give you a couple of tips, a couple of ideas if you’re wanting to write specifically for the page and how to do that if you haven’t done it before. Maybe you have and you just want to sort of get some fresh ideas, that’s cool. I’m an editor, I’m a writer. Girls on Key is … we provide opportunities for women and non-binary poets. Girls on Key dot com. Check it out in the link below. Hey guys today, we’re talking about writing a poem for the page. So I’m going to give you five tips for how to have a look at your poem when you’re writing. Specifically to be read on the page. What do you want to consider? So I’m a writer and poet and also an editor with over 15 years experience. So hopefully some of these tips will help you with your poetry. Okay, so the first thing I want to talk about is the words. What I’m going to do is I’m going to go from a micro level to a macro level and then back. So we’re going to start with the smallest element of your poem, which is the words. So Number One: What key are you writing in? So in music we talk about a key, which is it might be a minor key. It might be a major key. It’s a way of choosing which notes go into your work in order to create a certain mood or a certain feeling. So in poetry it’s the same. You can write in the key of something, for example. If you are writing a gothic poem or if you were in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe, you might choose words that relate to the style or the mood or the key of death or darkness or horror. So think about what key or what mood you want to write in and maybe list out a whole lot of words or check out a thesaurus or go online and think about what words give a colour or an impression that fit that mood. So that’s quite a fun thing to do, so think about your words and your key and how that colours your work because sometimes words creep in, it might not fit the key, and they might seem jarring, and they might not quite fit with the style that you wanting to bring across. So start with the words. So we’re going from micro to macro and we’ll go back. But starting to think about the word selection that you’d choose because there are various types of words that have different feelings and meanings and moods associated with them for example. You could have jagged words the way that the word looks on a page is kind of jagged. And the lettering itself actually brings across a certain feeling in the mind of the reader and so you can think about that are there soft words, or words like hum for example that evoke a feeling or a mood. So have a think about that. The second thing is your line so this is moving from the word to the line. In my view and talking to poets like Michelle Leber in Australia, for example, she mentions that your line is everything. Your line is very vital. So every single line that you have can have its own meaning. Now there’s something called enjambment, which is a really cool tool that I like to use sometimes which is where at the end of the line you carry it on and flow it around into the next line so it kind of cuts off at a certain point to create one meaning but then when you read it into the next line it creates a whole other meaning. And this is one thing that I really love about poetry on the page. I personally am, I call myself a page poet. I guess I really love the visual element. I love to spend time with a book and just reading through it again and again and picking up different meanings every time that I look at the page and so that’s just me personally. But that’s … other people might be different they might prefer to hear it or to watch it live or to see it performed and theatrical and that’s fine, but we’re just talking specifically in this video about poetry on the page. So first was the words and second was the lines and third thing as your stanzas. So this is equivalent of a paragraph in a nonfiction piece, so thinking about how your ideas are chunked together. So say for example that the first idea was that you want to have it in a time sequence So you’ve designed a poem and you want to kind of take the reader on your journey from childhood through adulthood for example. So the first answer might be you at five years old, the second one might be you in the present and the third might be imagining what life might be like when you’re dying. We are older you’re older, so that’s just one example of looking at breaking your text up into groups or stanzas. You can have a look at stanzas online just to see how that works, but it’s up to you. You are the creator of your poem, so you can design the stanzas in any way that you like. But one thing you might want to look at is the edges of your stanzas do they look completely jagged? Is there lines that stick out and some are small and how does that feel as a reader if you were to read that, how would you feel about it? So it’s having a look at that going, ‘Actually, it feels a little bit unbalanced’. Number four, we’re going to talk about the overall design. So once you’ve got your stanzas, think about how the stanzas fit together and the overall look of the page. So for example if you’ve got four stanzas on one page and one line on another page you maybe want to condense it down into one page. Maybe not. Maybe you want to have it like that. Think about, do you want it to look stable or unstable? Jagged, not jagged and this leads me into point number five which relates to the visual elements. So there’s something called concrete poetry which is poetry that is made in a visual format. So it might be that the words are in a spiral or they might be in the shape of a tree for example or a leaf or a cloud. Now, that kind of work Is interesting to me, and I don’t know of any specific poets working in that field. I’m sure there are a lot, but maybe you could tell me about them below. Or if you do it yourself there any good examples, I know that they are out there. And it kind of can be quite an experimental and interesting form. Because you get to play around with the purpose of why you have something on the page which is for it to be visual and then that’s also something I want to reiterate. If you’re doing it for the page someone is going to be looking at it visually, so it really is important how each part looks. If you’re reading it out loud you don’t have to worry so much about that aspect. And if you’re just wanting it to be a spoken word piece you just write it for yourself, so you know where the lines are and when you go to read it out. But if someone’s reading it on the page it’s very important that you utilise to the best that you can the tools and the kind of, I guess the pros of having it on on the page. Which is that when you can bring in other meanings and other layers through those visual elements. So when it comes to concrete poetry one of the things that is quite interesting to me is sometimes someone who write upon about a tree for example. Now the obvious thing would be to create it in the shape of the leaf to put a leaf around it, to put a picture of a leaf and that’s fine. You know it’s illustrative it just adds an extra nice jooj to it. But one thing that you might want to be aware of and that’s talking about what I’ve seen in some other videos, which is it starts becoming art when it stops becoming arbitrary, is that what is that visual element adding to your work? What does that visual element add to the work? Sometimes I think we can be arbitrary about it. We can be simple in how we approach the visual elements but sometimes it’s actually a really cool tool to use that to enhance your meaning or to add an extra layer of meaning. So for example if you’re writing about a tree maybe you could put a tree house or you could put a non-organic structure like the factory or something that doesn’t relate to a tree, so subvert it a little bit. Just to kind of add another layer of meaning I guess, so maybe not so obvious. So think about different ways that you can expand on that and use that as a tool to enhance your meaning as opposed to just having it there for the sake of it and also think about using those elements sparingly and think about your audience. Are you overdoing one element? Is every single poem in the shape of a spiral? Why does it have to be that way? So think about that and think about, am I hammering the use of this particular tool too much? Sometimes it’s like you know if you have a colour you might just want to put a little bit a little bit of highlight a little bit of something to kind of bring that highlight out, but you don’t want to use it too much because it can be overkill. And that’s completely up to you. If you want to overkill something go for it, if you want to you know if you want it to be extreme and over-the-top and experimental that’s absolutely fine. That’s up to you, but it comes back to your intention and we’ve talked about that. So what is your intention with it? Do you want it to do that? Do you want the visual element to be crazy in your face take over and just like be completely mental, then that’s absolutely up to you. But at the end of the day, did you choose that or did you just do it and were like, didn’t think about it. So, that’s up to you to think about. So just to recap. Five things to think about when you’re writing a poem for the page. The first is the words or the key that you’re playing in. Number two is the line. Think about your line length. Think about how you can run ideas together, having encapsulated meaning all together in one line, so not just two words as part of a line that don’t speak on their own. Making use of that of that line. Three is the stanzas or the paragraphs or the chunks. Four is the overall design of the whole thing and then five is the visual elements. So hopefully some of that stuff has helped you when it comes to writing a poem for the page. If you have any further ideas or ideas for videos please comment below. As always I’m happy to make videos if there’s something that you’re interested in. We do videos about poetry. Girls on Keep dot com for more info about what we do . Don’t forget to subscribe, to like, to share if you like this video. Thanks so much guys and we’ll see you next Friday.

2 thoughts on “How to write a poem (page) – 5 poetry writing tips

  1. These videos are informative, especially for someone like me, as I do not have any formal training in writing poetry. I basically look for everything (information) which can help me. Today what stood out for me was the "Key/words" to enhance the mood of a poem.

  2. Thanks so much April. Happy to help. I'm gonna make your metaphor video for today/tomorrow. Anna 🙂

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