Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Writing Poetry


Persona poems are great because you’re not working with a blank canvas but rather, a page out of an adult coloring book. You have the bones—you just have to flesh them out. While this is not strictly a persona poem (mine is written in the third-person; personas are written in first-), it still works.

Start a reading journal (this is best for poetry). Unlike a book review, which analyzes the text for deeper meanings, a poetry reading journal is about what the text means to you. Here are some interesting poems to get you started.

A pantoum poem is like a puzzle where the pieces sometimes repeat themselves in unexpected ways.

Think about messages that might be written on a Post-It note, and find a way to repurpose them as poetry.

Write long, edit short. Poetry writing isn’t just for poets; it can help your short stories become more poetic.

For three years, I participated in the Writer’s Digest Poem-a-Day challenges in April and November (as well as the Wednesday prompts the other months). Daily, I posted the poem to my blog, which gave me time to build up my regular feature posts (Micropoetry Mondays and Fiction Fridays). It may seem stressful to produce a whole piece a day, but that piece can be a three-line stanza poem (which are more likely to get read in their entirety than a 100-line narrative)—the length of a tweet.  

If you have an old shoebox full of letters or an inbox full of emails/private messages, you can write a “found poem.”

List poems are one of my favorite forms. Come up with a common theme or thread (i.e., that awkward moment, what if, I love it when . . , etc.), and knit a narrative that resonates.

An apostrophe poem is talking to something (tangible or intangible, something you like or dislike) about how it’s affected your life.

If your story doesn’t tell one, it just might be a poem.

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