Always happy to introduce you to an author new to JPC Allen Writes. I met author and poet Lori Z. Scott on Instagram and have enjoyed her poetry so much that I asked her to guest blog for National Poetry Month. Welcome, Lori!
People write poetry for many reasons. To express pain, sorrow, or joy. To entertain, convict, or explore. To say hello, goodbye, or I love you. It’s often a go-to media because poetry is a flexible art form, with many different forms a writer can explore to craft a good poem. Popular ones include acrostic, haiku, limerick, concrete, tanka, ode, and rhyming verse.
Poetry can also be a rigid and complex art form. Rules that govern poetry range from the strict guidelines of a sonnet to free verse, which follows no rules at all. In addition to that, poems employ a number of literary devices, including alliteration, assonance, internal or end rhyme, repetition, symbolism, meter, and more.
Still, anyone can write poetry. I succeeded mostly using two methods. The first is easy. The second will require some work.
The easy tip: read a lot of poetry—out loud
I thrived on the simple but profound rhymes of Shel Silverstein, the silliness of Jack Prelutsky, the intricate and witty storytelling of Robert Service, the craziness of Lewis Carroll, and the down-to-earth sing-song messages of Edgar Guest. While I typically trip over my words in my regular speech, these gems roll off my tongue in a pleasing way. I believe the recitation of poems helped develop and hone my ear for poetry. Truth be told, I memorized a lot of them, and that influenced the creation of my own. Which is, coincidentally, one of the best ways to learn.
Some work required tip: brainstorming (a method developed by Alex Osborn.)
The idea behind brainstorming is to generate a lot of ideas. The more you compile, the better chance you have of hitting gold. To brainstorm, first consider the topic you want to write about. Usually this is a single word or a theme. Then list as many spontaneous ideas as possible related to it. Then categorize the words. Group together words that rhyme, words with alliteration or assonance, and so on. If new ideas occur, add those to the list. Then build the poem. Once written, check each line for the syllable count (unless it’s free verse) and then read it out loud to hear where the accents, or beats, fall. If they don’t work, you will stumble over them. If they do, they’ll roll in a fluid manner.
(A while back, I wrote an article for Story Embers about developing creativity through brainstorming. You can visit for more details. https://storyembers.org/5-classroom-techniques-writers-can-adopt-to-improve-creativity/)
I used this method to write the poem WINTER. Notice how the rhymes, word choice, and use of alliteration work together to create the feeling of a pleasant winter day instead of a bitterly cold one.
Soft is the blanket of snow on the ground.
Gentle the breeze in the air.
Tender branches all bundled in ice.
Covered with comforting care.
Simple the silence embracing the Earth.
Restful the rise of the hill.
Beauty the sun as it kisses the sky
Tasting its peppermint chill.
Sometimes I write poetry with strict rules because my brain enjoys the challenge. Recently, I tried a Shakespearean sonnet, which often have a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG—three quatrains (four lines grouped together) and a couplet (2 rhyming lines). Poets must write one iamb (one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable) in each segment until there are 10 syllables in iambic pentameter.
I soon learned this was no easy task… so I had fun with it, writing a sonnet about the fact that I couldn’t write a sonnet.
I think I have but fourteen lines to write.
And yet I find it difficult to do.
A sonnet has restricting rules that bite.
And trip the one who pens without a clue.
Alas, I fear the structure of this form.
Will push my puny brain to exercise
More thinking than I care to be the norm
And serve as one more step to my demise.
Iambic beat cannot be broken or bent.
I wish, dear friend, that fact was not so true.
So, though I voice my simple discontent,
I cannot find the words to see it through.
Dear Sonnet, I must put my pen away.
My ode to you cannot be done today.
I know exactly what you mean. I thought I was decent at short form poetry until I tried limericks. For more about how limericks defeated me, click here.
Thank you so much for sharing your tips, Lori. Now I know how you craft such fun poems!
Elementary school teacher Lori Z. Scott usually writes fiction because, like an atom, she makes up everything. Her down time is filled with two quirky habits: chronic doodling and inventing lames jokes. Neither one impresses her principal (or friends/parents/casual strangers), but they do help inspire her writing. Somehow, her odd musings led her to accidentally write the 10-book bestselling Meghan Rose chapter book series and on purpose write over 150 short stories, articles, essays, poems, and devotions. Follow her on Instagram @Lori Z. Scott and read more of her great poems #lorizscottpoems.