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Mechanical Poetry; Part Two

What do you do when you want to write poetry? I hope your answer is "I start writing." Even writing a bad poem is better than waiting for the "right words." You can always throw it away, and the process has begun. You'll start to find the words sooner than if you had just waited. Here are some more ways to get started.

Sing A Poem

Try a little experiment - alone in the basement if you must. Describe something, then describe it again, singing instead of talking. You'll notice the words you use change. Your sentences will generally be more rythmic. It is also easier to rhyme when you are singing.

Singing comes from the right side of the brain. This is the side that handles pattern-recognition. When you sing, you access this part of your brain, and you'll get ideas or patterns of words that are difficult for your analytical left-brain to create. Try it.

Start With Poetic Materials

You can create poetry by listing words most likely to result in decent poems. Look for emotional content, for example. "Love" and "worship" have more poetic potential than "like," right? Scan a book, pick out powerful words, and write them down. You may want to write words that rhyme with them alonside. Then start using them.

Say something dramatic, like "I sing of death," or "Your eyes called out." Try to let it come from somewhere deep inside you. Then start explaining what it might mean. This will almost certainly give you material for a poem.

Play with short verses, long verses, rhyming and non-rhyming poems. Try haiku. Try writing down your thoughts as fast as you can, without stopping. Don't worry about quality at this point. You just need to get that creative mind working. Then, when you find gems in all the dirt, you can start polishing them.

Steve Gillman has been playing with poetry for thirty years. He and his wife Ana created the game "Deal-A-Poem," which can be accessed for free at:

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