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It's National Poetry Month!

Last updated 1 year ago

What should I write?
To begin, get your thoughts and feelings down on paper (or into a document) just as they come to you. Don't worry about form. When you've finished your freewriting, it's time to think about how to organize your words into a finished piece. Consider these points:

Poem
Try writing your ideas as a poem if:

  • you have some words that capture you with their sounds as well as their meaning.
  • you picture vivid images that you want to show your reader.
  • your words can be arranged in rhythms and patterns that intrigue you.

"The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes is a good poem to look at. It begins with vivid images:

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.


Even though the poem tells a complete story, if you listen to the words, you can hear the strong rhythms that make the action so exciting. Only a poem can sustain drama in this way.

Story
You may want to write a story if:

  • you've imagined characters you want to know better.
  • you need to explain why, how, or when things happen and what happens next.
  • describing the setting or place is very important.

Look at the story of "Snow White" as an example. A story is interesting only when we care about the characters in it. We need background and explanations to understand what happened to Snow White in the past and what might happen next.

Essay or Speech
Your ideas may belong in an essay or a speech if you want to:

  • convince your reader to take some action or change a belief.
  • explain an important point.
  • inspire someone to take an action.

"The Gettysburg Address" is a great example of an essay that does all of these things. In this short speech, Lincoln tries to explain how important the battle was and to inspire Americans to keep supporting the war to preserve the country.

The important thing is to express your feelings. As Barbara Kingsolver says, "Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say."

Whatever you decide to write this month, begin it now!
 

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