by Diana Raab, Ph.D.
April is National Poetry month and if you have not written a poem since grade school, this might be a good time to try. If rhyming intimidates you, don’t worry, because modern day poetry has very little rhyme. Narrative poetry is the type most akin to memoir writing because it is poetry that tells a story.
Poetry is a free-flowing form of expression. The best poetry happens when you write about feelings, observations and images as they come to you. Poetry is a powerful genre because reading and writing poetry will make you a better writer. It fosters your observational skills because in order to write good poetry, you need to access all of your senses. When writing for healing and transformation, you have a choice to write about the past, present or future from the perspective of your relationships to, and observations of, the world.
Writing poetry moves you closer to your center of creativity and stimulates your right brain. Poetry can also help you claim your voice. The best thing to do when writing poetry is to listen to the voice in your own head. Writing poetry can help transform your life and aid you in dealing with difficult issues.
Because poetry is a succinct genre where every word counts, by writing poetry, you learn the power of words. Writing poetry teaches you how to be concise and get to the point of what you are trying to say. Poetry also encourages you to create images and metaphors. When writing your poem, use as many details and be as specific as possible. When writing about another person try to visualize them present as you write.
To become a good poet, it is important that you read a lot of poetry for inspiration and ideas about form. You can also listen to CD’s of poetry being read aloud. After you finish your poem, it is always a good idea to read it aloud. This is a good way to edit what you’ve written, because poetry was meant to be a spoken form.
Here are some good prompts to get you started writing poetry:
1) Title your poem “I remember.” Recall an event in your life and share all the details of it in your poem. The reader should feel as if they are remembering alongside you.
2) Write an ode to someone you love. Provide details about why you love them.
3) In poetic form, write a letter of apology to someone you disappointed or you think you disappointed.
4) Write a poem about your first boyfriend/girlfriend and what you remember about them and your relationship.
5) Write a poem about someone who has passed away and frame it in a present day event that triggers your memory of them.
6) Write a poem about a secret you never told anyone.
7) Describe your day in a snapshot.
8) Write a poem about all the things you love.
Diana Raab, Ph.D. is a memoirist, poet, blogger, essayist, educator and facilitates workshops in writing for healing and transformation. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology, and a research focus on the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing.
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