Poet with L plates

Advice on beginning to write poetry by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.  (Video under 3 mins.)


Read other people’s poetry.  Read widely.  Read.  Read.  A lot.    ABout 10,000 hours worth, to get a sense of what has gone before.  As you read, you are naturally absorbing the technique and rhythms of poetry.  It’s like learning to play the cello – you don’t just get one and play brilliantly, you practice and do classes.

Your first writings will probably be for self-expression.  This is for yourself.  But if you want your work to be read and enjoyed by others – then you have that in mind as you write – “I am making something for someone else”.  There are 3 parts to a poem – line, sentence stanza (or verse).  You are trying to make all of them good.

The wastebasket is the writer’s best friend.  If a poem isn’t working, don’t force it, start another.

“If I’m writing for a while and I’m writing maybe a failure and another failure … a poem will come, often a little poem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what I’ve written but it would not have occurred had I not been failing.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s