Anatomy of a Poem

I have completely abandoned all hope of publishing my fiction and have switched solely to poetry.

April Fools!

Ha. Ha. You are probably grimacing. I am, too. I don’t really understand this holiday. It’s my sister’s birthday, though, which made for some admittedly amazing pranks growing up.

I do want to focus a bit more on poetry for April and try my hand at #NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, but I’ll never abandon prose. My love of writing fiction will surely only die a slow and painful death if I receive at least 1,000 rejections on my work; I’m only up to thirty-two, so, folks, life on the fiction front is still looking promising. Each rejection does admittedly crush a bit of my soul, but my soul is extra hardy, made of a tungsten/steel/stubborn ginger alloy.

In this video, I share a think-aloud to show how I write a poem. A think-aloud is a form of modeling your thought process, and it’s something that I use to teach my students new skills, especially when we’re looking at new styles of writing or building analysis and critical thinking skills. It’s not just for teaching, however; a think-aloud is effective for showing your thought process in any endeavor.

In poetry-building, I typically focus on theme and diction over structure and rhyme. The latter two fall into place after I’ve thought about the message I want to convey and the sound of words to convey it. Tone is vital, though it somehow slipped my mind in this video.

When I wrote my last poem, “Fool’s Spring”, I started with a photo I took on a recent walk. I thought about the cold front we’ve had recently, my kids caked in nearly frozen mud, their red cheeks, my toddler’s runny nose.

I wrote down the images that came to mind, tweaking the wording to help show the feeling that is pervading the air in our Midwest town right now: longing for the freedom and joy of spring. My last step was reading aloud, playing with rhythm and switching words for stronger imagery, tone, and euphony.

What is your thought process when writing a poem? If you don’t write poetry in particular, what is your thought process as you write a creative piece?

4 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Poem

  1. I actually appreciated the April fools joke 😂 No one did April fool over here so I’m just happy to see it online! I’d be heartbroken if anyone quit Fiction! Awesome post and good luck with NaPoWriMo!


  2. The think-aloud does sound interesting indeed, and I haven’t really used that before. Though morning pages also seem to trigger the same part of the mind, in that I get to state my intentions and explore them. I know next to nothing about poetry though, other than I enjoy the usual suspects like Plath and Bukowski. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t heard of “morning pages” before, so I just looked it up! It does sound similar to a think aloud, just perhaps more centered on the writer’s thoughts specifically than on teaching someone else a thought process? I’ll have to learn more about this; it sounds like a helpful technique.


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