Mechanical Poetry

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Do you ever stare at the paper, waiting for poetic inspiration? Well, you can stop waiting and start using systematic techniques for creating poetry. If it seems too mechanical or artificial at first, don’t worry. The point is just to get you writing, because creativity is stimulated by work.

When You Have A Poem In Mind

If you have your topic, ask yourself why it’s important, and write down your answer. How do you feel about it? Write down those feelings. Write a line or a scene that exemplifies what you are trying to point out. Then, start rearranging the words into a poem. The main thing is to do anything other than waiting to stimulate your creativity.

Sometimes poems can come from a simple description. Write down a description of an event, and then find a way to form it into something more succinct and poetic. The poem below, “Religion,” was created in this way:

On the shoulder of Keystone Road

A woman was laying in the dirt

Calling out for help

While ninety-three christians

Fourteen muslims

And five jews

Drove by

On a sunny afternoon

When You Need Ideas For Poems

1. Look around and write down what you see.

2. Write about anything that you felt today.

3. Ask anyone for a topic and start writing.

4. Use random words, one per line, to create a verse.

The following verse was written in a few minutes using four randomly chosen words:

Our dirty little secret

Our sorrow none can see

Is not

For things we cannot have

But for things we cannot be

Poets can break through the worst writers-block, by simply using any “tricks” available to start writing poems. Try it. Even very artificial, or “mechanical” techniques will get your creativity flowing. You’ll find more of these poetic techniques in part two.

Steve Gillman has been playing with poetry for thirty years. He and his wife Ana created the game “Deal-A-Poem,” which can be accessed for free at: http://www.dealapoem.com

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