Home Education How to Write Poetry: A Lyric Essay

How to Write Poetry: A Lyric Essay

Over the next few weeks, Culturas will delve into the world of poetry. This series will examine the art form, its rules and lack thereof through essays, reported stories, and resource lists.

  1. Poetry is a sensitive kind of writing. It bends to your emotions, transforms your being in the world, and melds all kinds of stories together. It’s malleable in a way that other types of writing aren’t. 
  2. And there are so many types of poetry to explore:
  3. There’s the lyric essay, happily floating in between the realms of poetry and essay—a type of poem in which you can properly express yourself with as many words as you deem necessary.
  4. There’s the sonnet, a 14-line poem that typically revolves around the topic of love. Sonnets are bound by a specific rhyme scheme, depending on the style you choose to write. They’re often tinged with flowery language that flows effortlessly from line to line.
  5. Limericks are humorous poems that could take the form of a tongue twister or even a nursery rhyme. They aren’t constrained to the concept of having to “make sense”—they bounce with silliness and serve a purpose of nonsense. 
  6. Haikus originated in Japan and are poems in which you can speak little, but say a lot. With just three lines consisting of five, seven, and five syllables, they are often written to evoke natural imagery.
  7. Free verse poems are just that. There’s no rhyme scheme, metrical pattern, or subject matter you have to stick to. They’re completely open in form and leave space for you to explore.
  8. But no matter the form, poetry gives way to your feelings and allows them to surface through metaphors, imagery, and rhyme. It doesn’t waste words and lets you connect to your emotions in a tangible way. 
  9. Now to write poetry, you have to read poetry.
  10. Find poetry that excites you. There are poems based on everything from narrative and story to raw feelings and emotions and once you figure out what you like, you can imitate it. 
  11. Think about what’s weighing on you. Go deep into it whether it’s an experience, memory, or feeling, and try to put it to paper. Make a list or write a couple lines or paragraphs and see what thoughts you want to memorialize with a poem. 
  12. Mull over what you want to enmesh in a poetic device or rhyme scheme. 
  13. When you write a poem, you need to write for yourself. 
  14. It’s important not to get caught up in crafting the perfect narrative or structure.
  15. Simply think of this experience as an exploration of self. This is just another way to process your thoughts.
  16. Find a form that suits you; a form that you can actually put into conversation with the subject matter you want to write about and your particular flow of speech. Let everything feed off each other and work together to create your poem. 
  17. The form you choose will illuminate your words–it’ll allow them to shine and pinpoint exactly what you’re trying to convey. Same with the devices and patterns you choose to insert–they’ll enhance your writing and make it come to life. 
  18. But what’s most important is that you’re happy with it. The sound of the language, the cadence of the lines, and the density of your words should reflect your thinking. 
  19. After all, poems are malleable in a way that other writing isn’t. Don’t be afraid to bend, transform or meld your poem to whatever story seems fit. 
Aarohi Sheth
Aarohi Sheth
Aarohi Sheth is a writer + artist originally from Houston, TX, currently pursuing a degree in journalism at the University of Southern California. She hopes to keep creating interdisciplinary work that pushes boundaries, empowers underrepresented communities and generates empathy in others.
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