Road Trip Activities for the Car: Poetry Writing

Written by Carly Hallman

Poetry is perhaps the most misunderstood type of writing. It’s not something that only intellectuals enjoy, and it’s not something that only geniuses can create. Poetry is everywhere, even in the music people play in the car. After all, what are lyrics but a type of poetry set to music? Of course, some poetry is better than others, and most people who want to write poetry want to write good poetry. Luckily, through reading and practice, it’s possible to pick up the basics of poetry writing and start honing your craft. It’s also possible to work with kids so they can start developing their own voice and learn how to express themselves through the medium.

Poetry Writing Basics

  • The first step in becoming a poet is to learn from the best. It’s important to read a diverse range of poets, from cannon staples like W.B. Yeats to more modern voices like Gwendolyn Brooks. Doing so allows readers to soak in the wide range of types of poetry, poetic devices, and ways in which words can be used to set a tone or paint a picture.
  • People tend to think that all poetry rhymes. Shel Silverstein was a master of rhyming poetry, but other very successful poets invert traditional rhyming schemes or discard them altogether. For example, Robert Frost often wrote in blank verse.
  • Rhyming is optional, but all poems need a rhythm. Without rhythm, poetry becomes prose with awkward line breaks. It is poetry’s rhythmic nature that sets it apart. When read aloud, poetry should have a specific cadence. However, that cadence doesn’t have to follow iambic pentameter or some other established scheme, as long as there’s a flow to the words.
  • The theme of the poem is far more important than the rhyming structure used. Form should follow function, even in poetry. The poetic devices used should support the writer in exploring the theme of the poem.
  • Experiment with many different types of poetry. Most writers have a form that comes easily to them and that they enjoy writing, but it’s important to keep trying new things.
  • Writing, like any other skill, requires practice. Devoting regular time to writing is the best way to become a better poet.

notepad and pens

Poetry Writing Resources