When Frank O’Hara, poet with the day job of curating in the Museum of Modern Art (New York), writes a love poem, it naturally mentions a great deal of art – as well as something as simple and everyday as sharing a fizzy drink.
- Write daily. This is good practice and gets you into daily being aware of noticing what’s going on around you and in your own heart and mind – and getting at least some of that down on paper. It will give you a great deal more of written material than waiting for “the muse to descend”.
- O’Hara’s poetry is personal in tone and in content and has been described as sounding “like entries in a diary“ (ref: “Frank O’Hara” in American National Biography. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) If you ever wrote/write a diary, this may be the form of poetry for you.
- Write with a recipient in mind – Frank’s belief and style was that poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.” (also in American Nat Bio.)
- Frank O’Hara’s style is typical of the “New York School of Poetry” – it’s conversational. If the blank page or screen is offputting, try speaking what you’re thinking into your phone’s voice memo, pausing and restarting as ideas come to you. Listen back and type out the best lines, as a starting point for the poem.
- Love poetry is addressed to the loved one. So use thoughts of them as you write – you’re speaking to them, to the core of their being, deeply.
- Another way to write – imagine the person you’re writing to on the phone – what would your side of the conversation feel like? For more colourful unusual poems, write a telephone poem to someone you love who is famous (dead or alive) – or someone you don’t like who is famous (dead or alive).
- Write in your lunch-hour. Frank O’Hara did – one of his poetry books is called “Lunch poems”.
- Try writing a poem for someone you love, about an ordinary shared experience, like this one.
- If you feel completely unable to write, then use this video poem as a starting point. Why not get a written copy of this poem and then change everything about it to personalize it for the person you’re writing about. What is special about your relationship? Make your poem longer or shorter.