You don't have to be Shakespeare to benefit
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. — Oscar Wilde
As I actively avoid journaling, it dawns on me — poetry is taking over. I feverishly gulp my coffee, and the words spill out of me like I’m Julius Caesar, famed orator that he was. A spanking new morning writing ritual is born. Fascinating poetry tidbit: Metromania is the compulsion to write poetry. I have metromania — and I am into it.
I’ve always been keen on morning journaling as a means of “staying connected.” However, journaling hurricane-like emotions sometimes requires a more cathartic approach. My journaling became civilized, tidy, and lackluster. First, I was anxious because I stopped journaling, but now I’m off-roading out of frustration. I write wild scenes as a Roman soldier cutting and slashing through the battlefield, as I feel especially enraged these days.
While I realize poetry may not be your thing, hear me out — it could become your thing. Oscar Wilde was onto something when he said all bad poetry springs from genuine feeling — be authentically you, and the poem will take care of itself. The positive psychological effects of writing poetry are undeniably uplifting. The creative effects are extraordinary, and the sense of connection you feel through poetry is surprisingly empowering.
I’m not talking about writing a Shakespearian sonnet, mind you — but a “shake up” for your morning routine to get you centered, a warm-up for the writing you plan to publish. Of course, if you plan to publish your poetry, you want to acquaint yourself with both Shakspeare and the craft’s essentials — beyond a morning routine warm-up.
Writers and the intriguing side-effects of poetry
As writers, “word economy” is a valuable asset in our bank account. Poetry teaches us the value of every single word — lest we get wordy and lose our way. As a creative, my emotional self is often intense and, at times, overwhelming. Poetry is a robust warm-up before your writing practice for the day. Poetry can help you anchor emotionally driven creative impulses, provide validation and inspiration. Not a bad combination, right?
A surprising side effect of experimentation with poetry is it can bring more personality to your “regular” style of writing.
Since I’ve begun writing poetry, I’ve noticed a new dimension of creative thinking emerge related to my usual blog posts. It propels me to think critically about organizing my writing, bringing it to life, and making it enticing for readers. But wait — there’s more. When you experiment with different styles of writing, you reap cross-disciplinary benefits. Brilliant huh?
Writing poetry helps me clarify my writing and remember to take the reader on a journey — using all the senses. Poetry can invigorate your creative center in remarkable ways. You can be radical, fantastical, someone, or something else if you desire. Art is a natural part of life but is often underutilized and undervalued.
Is your style pretty pink cherry blossoms in spring or fire-breathing dragons skimming castle tops?
Poetry is an invitation to explore yourself viscerally. It’s a universal language dressed in symbols, senses, metaphor, imagery, feelings, and impulse. Poetry is a way for you to assimilate what’s going on in your life, a bridge between the inner and outer worlds.
How old were you the last time you wrote a poem — 8, 10, 16? Do you remember how good it felt? I do. I could slink around like Pink Panther one day and be Queen Cleopatra the next. Are you curious to know who you might embody and what kind of world you might fashion through poetry? From healing emotional pain to improving metacognitive awareness to unlocking your creativity, the benefits of poetry are many.
Poetry for brain juice (psychological benefits)
Poetry exercises a different part of your brain by fortifying cognitive muscles. Metacognitive awareness is the ability to think critically about your thinking process and regulate your thoughts. Self-awareness is valuable because creating strategies and reflecting on your thought process encourages a growth mindset. Additionally, increased metacognition has been shown to improve reading & writing skills. Essentially, it’s about learning how you learn.
Poetry for when you are feeling like a basketcase (healing and connecting)
Poetry can help you unlock repressed feelings and validate them. Psychologist & poet Dr. Diana Raab states that through poetry, we have the chance to heal old wounds by delving into our unconscious mind and expressing what we find there. If you stick with it, poetry can even refine your emotional articulation. Do you have difficulty relaying your feelings to others? I do, but in poetry, I feel as though I can communicate effortlessly.
Poetry is a potent tool for interpersonal awareness. Sharing your poetry with another can have a profound effect on you and the other person. Poetry can choreograph your thoughts and feelings into something beautiful, profound, and revealing. It can be a portal to the underworld if you’re brave. Sounds intense. It is.
Poetry — because it feels good to be a kid running wild in your old neighborhood
Don’t discount it because it feels good. Write poetry to inspire, celebrate, or get weird. Cool poetry fact: A 1275 medieval poem called “Brut” by Layamon used the term “unfriend” for the first time, as far as we know. It seems Facebook is late to the party. In the same poem, we see the word “muggle” used for the first time. It would seem Harry Potter is also late to the game. Moving on.
You can use poetry as a radical departure from cerebral day-to-day affairs. As children, we love to write poems. Do you remember why that is? We play-act when we are children because it’s exciting to be someone else. Give your noodle some much-needed relaxation. Permit yourself to let your imagination wander in all the directions your logical mind doesn’t. Immerse yourself in fantasy. Play with ideas that inspire you, images that delight, or tales of dark lords and demons. Are you ready to shake up your morning routine?
Start with a “comet tumbling through space” approach and let it flow
Free verse poetry gives ample way for expression when you are first starting. Although it can have structure, free verse poetry is a wide-open space for creativity with no prescribed rhyme, meter, or musicality. There are no rules, and that’s the beauty of it. The plan is to get you writing poetry straight away without feeling like you have to master it.
Remember, the idea is to use poetry as a tool for emotional release and creative expression — you don't have to publish it or share it with anyone. Don’t be tempted to intellectualize it before you dig in. If you want to dig deeper into the mechanics of poetry, have a peek at Open University’s free online course. It offers a great introduction to familiarize you with the basics.
Juicy themes and dramatic prompts to get you started
Keep a list of themes and concepts that fire you up. Indulge your senses and pour them out onto the page. Here are a few of my favorites.
Themes that light a fire under me
lost love, true love, rage, sorrow, spiritual bondage, light vs. dark, nostalgia, archetypes, dancing, nature elements (fire, water, air, & earth), the battle of self vs. self, the cosmos, and death.
Themes that light a fire under you: This part is your job.
Dramatic prompts to get you in the zone
Likely, you will already have a good idea of how you want to get poetic, but you can take advantage of prompts if not. Prompts are helpful because they give you a bit of direction. Here are a few to get you going.
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name — JUST KIDDING, unless you're into it, in which case: Do proceed.
Loves ferocity has devoured your tender parts…
For all the light within you, darkness suits you best…
Inner planets orbit your outer existence, but before you know it, you are tumbling through space like a comet at her end…
Your honeyed words are lies and hold no sweetness…
In the end
The goal is to write poetry whether or not you choose to dive into the complexity of it. How you intend to use poetry will guide your path. Don’t get stuck with a “poetry is for other people” attitude; it’s rubbish. Poetry can be a gateway to how you marvel, hurt, delight, weird out, connect with your higher self & the world around you. Poetry can be an exhilarating odyssey but much more fun than reading The Odyssey.
Underneath the constructs of society and self, we possess a longing to express our deepest nature. I challenge you to look to yours — through poetry. May your masterpiece bring you everlasting glory on the wings of Hermes.
If you enjoyed this, you might be into When You Lose Your Power to Love, How do You Get it Back?
Writers need coffee! I need coffee strong enough to wake up my ancestors! You can buy me one here if you enjoy my scribblings! Woohoo!