The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Do You Like Poetry Writing? 5 Top Poetry Writing Tips for Budding Poets

5 Top Poetry Writing Tips for Budding Poets

Long gone are the days when poetry was reserved for the intellectual elite. Poetry today is everywhere. On the walls of bathroom stalls, in the lyrics of our best-loved songs, in the notebooks of teenagers, at the inaugurations of newly elected presidents, and on the lips of slam poets as they enter their next poetry slam. Poetry is everywhere because poetry is an expression, and each and every one of us has a story to tell. In fact, of the art, Plato once shared, "Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history." It is part of who we are as people, and it allows us to speak our truth. As such, the art form is certainly not going anywhere.

Nonetheless, aspiring poets and even seasoned professionals can always do with some guidance as they embark on their poetry adventure. Here we offer a few pertinent tips for writers who wish to develop their poetic skills.

  1. Use Your Own Voice: Sometimes, aspiring writers and poets think that a good poem or story needs to include pompous language and elegant prose. While such writing has its place, the authentic voice of a writer offers much insight and intrigue. When you write with your own voice, you show the reader authenticity, and this invites them into your world where they will be privy to your everyday experiences and meanderings. By writing from your perspective, you offer something truly unique. Added to this, be sure to tell the stories from your little pocket of the world. There is so much poetic material at our doorstep, and every neighbourhood and community has something to share.

  2. Read Far and Wide: Part of being a brilliant writer is the exposure to a myriad of writers and authors, even the ones you do not particularly enjoy. Every piece of writing can teach us something, be it a James Joyce classic or a tabloid's latest exposé. Thus, budding poets need to read the work of many poets from different countries, historical periods, and walks of life. When you expose yourself to diversity, you open your mind to the multitude of poetic possibilities at your disposal.

  3. Experiment with Different Poetic Forms: There are so many exciting and innovative types of poetry, and part of being a poet is finding what works for you. Give yourself permission to play with a variety of poetic forms, from haikus and sonnets to free verse and rhyming schemes. This will bolster your skills as a writer and enable you to reimagine how you configure your words and poetic structures. Ultimately, every time you practice and hone your writing skills, you enhance your development as a writer. Thus, no piece of writing is ever wasted.

  4. Experiment with Poetic Devices: As well as experimenting with different poetic forms, it is imperative to explore different devices as these can add layers and depth to your work as a writer. Add newfound meaning with metaphors and metonymy or play with sound as you explore the wonders of assonance and alliteration. Poets, above all, have a deep love of language, and there is so much to explore. This will naturally enhance your writing abilities and your poetic expression.

  5. Take the Leap: Sometimes, the best thing to do is to start writing, as daunting and scary as the process might be. Part of becoming a brilliant poet is about being brave and getting the words onto the page. It is also about accepting that your first draft might not, if ever, be perfect, and that is okay. Writing poetry is a process, and sometimes you will need to rehash work and produce countless drafts before you produce a quality piece. Do not be afraid to start again. Sometimes, better poems come from the deletion of initial drafts, as painful a process as it might be. As famed author Stephen King once shared on the art of reworking that which has been written: "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."

Delve Into the World of Poetry with AVBOB

Inspiration is paramount to poetic writing, and thus it is well worth exploring our extensive poem library here. Excitingly, we have a collection of poems in all South Africa's 11 official languages and therefore strive to make literary works accessible to all. If you have a great love for words and a story to tell, you might just be the next poet to look out for.