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.”