A Poem is Not Rocket Science
I thought this might be a good time to explain some of the creative ways poets bring a new poem to life. Your first experience with poem construction probably came in grade school classes where rhymed poems and maybe Haiku was introduced.
Poetry is foreign to many of our minds at that age — even though children create songs and play rhymes all the time when they’re not in school. Sometimes it’s the teacher that brings the love of poetry to them — other times the dread of “poetry time” is all consuming, almost like taking a test.
Later you may have been introduced to “free-verse” where you don’t need to rhyme at all. But that doesn’t make it easier. Some poem crafters of free-verse work on it for weeks looking for the right words to convey their deep feelings, intellect, or concept.
Create a Poem From an Emotional Experience
Think about a special situation that brought your feelings into raw perspective. Let’s say you hiked a mountain trail and it was a life changing experience.
Now take those thoughts and write them down. Put them in chronological order or mix them with the level of emotion you felt. Find some strong emotional words with good visual meaning. Try to use your natural senses as motivation to help others understand how you feel: see, smell, touch, taste, hear. Use them all if you can. Make it a free-verse. Have fun with it.
So I thought about my first time I climbed to the cliff top trail of Bright Angel in Grand Canyon. I struggled with the idea of even going. You’ll see how I tried to talk myself out of it. (My excuses are part of the poem) I made plenty of excuses in my head. Everyone has a photo of that point. Millions have been there. Why bother? For me, the weather was growing stormy. I really should have gone back to the car but my sister and I were on the last days of vacation. We just had to go see — take a chance — it might be worth it.
Bright Angel Trail
I struggled to get here.
The parking lot was full.
I heaved thin air, lungs, ached.
I should never have come.
Then I forgot my camera.
Those batteries are so expensive.
My final step transcended magic.
No one will believe I came here.
Clouds billowed like sails below me.
How will I prove it?
Red cliffs rose like layered-cake bluffs.
I can even taste the fresh air.
I cried like an eagle … then soared.
I’ll remember. It’s carved in stone.
I just created this poem (really) and it was a wonderful jump back to 1976. What I didn’t say was the lightning that struck across the point while my sister was holding me steady against the wind so I could get a photo with her camera. I captured the lightning in my photo! We were giddy, hoping the shot would actually show the lightning! We had to wait until the film was processed to find out how awesome it was!
Our annual Poetry Contest begins this month and runs until May 15th. I wish to personally invite you. Check out the contest rules and fees on our Contest Page above. Submitting to a regional contest is one of the best ways to get good feedback from a cross-section of readers. I hope you’ll try to break the barrier of seeing poetry as too difficult for you to master. Take a chance. Share it with our judges and be sure to say you were inspired by this poem.
I’ll say it again: Take a chance.
I will read your poems but I may not be a judge. No decision has been made yet. We’re still working on the prizes for First, Second, and Third.