Learning to Write Poetry by Imitation


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Pond Mountain Tales
Image: pondmountaintales.com

A Birmingham, Alabama, resident Ed (Edgar) Gentle has more than three decades of experience as an attorney and has served as a partner with Gentle, Turner, Sexton, and Harbison, LLC, since 1992. Outside of work, Ed Gentle enjoys writing short stories and poetry.

Those learning to write poetry can follow diverse approaches, but one standard method involves imitating the masters. Start by reading poetry. When you find poems that speak particularly to you, choose one or more to imitate as an exercise.

As you look at that poem, pay attention to elements such as meter, rhyme, metaphors, imagery, structure, and any other distinctive features. Choose a few of these elements to imitate in writing your own poem. Then decide on a subject and write your poem incorporating those characteristics.

The more you repeat this exercise with different poems, the more skill you can gain with various poetic elements. When you feel ready, try writing your own original poetry.