How to Write a Poem: Part IV

If only it were that easy. Simple one, two, three instructions, bada bing bada boom, there’s your poem.

If only. What makes it so hard to explain how to write poetry is not that there’s so much more to it, but so much less. As I explained, kind of, in a poem recently on Literary Life, what it all comes down to in the end is magic.

Yup, I said magic. If you don’t believe in magic, you can stop reading here. No shame with it. I respect your rational mind. Go in peace.

If you do believe in magic, then you know it’s elusive yet common as dust. Pixie dust, perhaps. And you know the toughest thing about magic is how shy it can be. You have to work at making it feel welcome in your life. You could try one or more of these magic luring techniques:

  1. Expect the unexpected without anxiety. Look around for hopeful interruptions in patterns.
  2. Be gracious with your mind. Limit use of words like “should” and “can’t” – try on “curious” and “adventure” instead.
  3. Listen to music that makes the back of your neck tingle. Read poetry that makes you weep. Let yourself respond to art with real emotion, as the artist intended.
  4. Take long walks where you can see, hear, and smell life in all its strange and growing ways.
  5. Sit under the maple tree in someone’s backyard. Look up at the pattern made by the sky interwoven with the leaves. Listen to the grass beneath your feet.
  6. Remove dishonest filters from your vision. Tell yourself the truth about all things, even if the truth messes with your preconceived pattern.

You see, magic doesn’t ask for much, but what it does require can often be hardest to give – things like hope, grace, time, space, and honesty. And speaking of honesty… most honest poets will tell you that they never have all (or any) of these things in perfect measure. But my guess is magic senses the heart’s intent, and that a hopeful move toward grace is as good as an open door.


Photo by Javardh on Unsplash


2 Replies to “How to Write a Poem: Part IV”

  1. Love your post about the power of magic in poetry (and all creative expression). Sometimes I get the “eye roll” when I talk about my creative journey and magic, but I’m a believer 😊🔮

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