Lesson 4:  What Makes A Poem?

Poems come in all forms, lengths, and even shapes and sizes. It is a pliable art form, with seemingly infinite possibilities.

At first impression, that sounds marvelous, and it is!


It can also make the beginning of the process seem that much more daunting.


How will you decide?

How will you create something out of all the wonderful choices in front of you?

This is something that can immediately make you feel overwhelmed and possibly uninspired, because it seems like too much work for an already overworked life.

Good news! It doesn't have to be that way.

Let's take a step back.

We'll start with concept: What is a poem?

Identifying what we are working with can often help us get a better grasp of what we're working toward.

Are you ready?


Your First Assignment:

  • Look up “poem” in the dictionary. What is the definition?

Here is one: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/poem

How many elements does it have?

Speech and song.






Each listed element is a beautiful picture in itself. Combined, it's astounding. One could say a poem has a life of its own. And woven into each one you write will be a piece of your own unique essence.

Journal for 3-5 minutes about what makes you unique. Consider now, the ways that can shine forth through your poetry.



Your Second Assignment:

Here is another definition of poetry: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poem

This one mentions not only that imagery is a necessary element, but notes the structure created by lines, as well as observing repetition and rhyme.

It is true, you can see, that a poem is complex. This does not mean it is impossible to write. A lot of complex visions are breathed into wondrous reality through practice and some simple tools. If there's one thing I know, humans are capable of remarkable things when they are compelled to express themselves through art. You are capable, too.


  • Explore a few more sources from our wonderful friend, Google. Which ones did you like best?

  • Now write a definition for “poem” in your own words. Choose the descriptors that speak to you and help you formulate your personal picture of poetry. Feel free to refer to your findings in the first assignment.



Your One Word Prompt:

- Possibilities -