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I guess that I am a bit of a hypocrite. I stood in front of a classroom of children for years and said, “Of course, you can write poetry.” I’m in the midst of writing a post encouraging you to write poetry, but asked if I write poems, I’d answer with an empathic….NO.  When I think about verse, I think of classical poetry even though I enjoy and appreciate many of its other forms.

Poetry is powerful. It has the ability to inspire, console, enrage, or entertain.  What I am encouraging you to do is to try your hand at writing poetry for the purpose of personalizing a special event. My skills are limited to an ability to identify words that rhyme and a competence in using the thesaurus. My poetry is typically silly but it can still entertain. I believe that if you are a poet, you have a unique gift. I also believe that, even if you think you have no specific poetry writing skills, the desire to create something unique and meaningful will be your strongest asset.

Let your creativity flow as you follow these guidelines.

Choose the subject that you would like to write about. What special event are you hoping to celebrate?   wedding? birth of a child? graduation?

Poetry 101 would stress the importance of identifying line lengths, line breaks, rhythm, etc. I take the easy way out and choose a well-known poem or verse that is easily recognized.  I use it as a template and just substitute my own words. (Of course, you can’t legally publish a poem written this way but I assume that you are doing this for personal use only.)

Identify the specific events/ thoughts that you want to include in your poem. Keep them in sequential order. A poem on an upcoming wedding might include a stanza on how the couple met. A poem on the birth of a child might include how mom and dad chose the baby’s name.

Start to write down your thoughts as they come into  your head. (I like to go back and edit after I have the basic form but you may wish to do a little editing as you go.)

Rhyme is a great poetic device. I strongly recommend that you use it. Arrange your lines (sentences) so that basic words fall at the end of a line.  For example, instead of writing… Today is your graduation… try –   Your graduation day is here. Both sentences have the same number of word parts or syllables but rhyming with “here” will be a lot easier than rhyming with “graduation.”

Choose interesting words. Rely on a thesaurus. It doesn’t matter if it’s hardback or synonym.com

Your poem will most likely be on a specific subject. Try not to over use the common words associated with that subject. Don’t over use “graduation”. Try substituting related words or made-up phrases like “cap and gown day”. Get creative.

Save the most heart-felt message for the end of your poem.  Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. Sincerity is very powerful.

Edit your poem. Read it out loud. You’ll be able to hear the rhythm of your lines and determine if the words you have chosen really match what you want to express. Sometimes it helps to put your writing aside and come back to it.

When it comes time to share your poem, identify how you want it presented. Are you comfortable reading it out loud in front of others? It’s a great way to control your rhythm and put emphasis on the words and phrases that are most important to you. Perhaps you are most comfortable writing out your poem and presenting it privately.

Remember that a gift that comes from the heart can never be the wrong color or size. Your poem will be a unique and loving gift.