How do you write your poems

I hate to admit that I am old enough to have written stuff on a manual typewriter. You know… the ones that if you typed to fast, or just mashed the keys, because it was fun, all the keys would get stuck together. I used to spend a good deal of time trying to get all of the keys to stick at once. There was always one or two that just wouldn’t fit. Now I have two laptops, a work desktop, smart phone and a Kindle Fire, all capable of doing what the old typewriter only dreamed of. Over the years I have used all of these to write one story or another, create project proposals, and essays for school. They are great tools without a doubt. However, for me they don’t work for poetry.

I have to write my poems with pencil and paper. It really needs to be pencil. A pen will work if there isn’t a pencil handy (I keep two or three pencils around at all times), but I just don’t get the same feel from a pen that I do from a pencil. The type of paper makes no difference. I have written on standard paper, sticky notes, note pads, bar napkins, and even the back of “This is your final notice” envelopes. There is a different feeling I get when I write a poem with pencil and paper. I feel more connected to the words, more in tune with the emotion.

Perhaps it is because poems are more visual that this works for me. Poems are living, breathing things. They evolve more quickly than a story does. For me it is much easier to lay out the poem, move things around, rewrite and adjust them as I want on paper, than it is in a word processing program. This might seem counter intuitive since it is actually much easier to edit on a computer than on paper. I don’t actually move anything on paper. I draw lines through words I want to remove, only one line in case I change my mind. I use arrows to indicate this stanza should now go bellow this one. What is that little thing that means “insert here” a carat? I forget, but I use that a lot as well. Before I bring a poem into a MS Word they can look like a bad diagram of some obscure government regulation.

Original draft of 700 Light-Years from Home

Original draft of 700 Light-Years from Home

I set out once to write a poem totally in a digital environment. I failed miserably. I just couldn’t get any feeling or connection with what I was writing. So now I work exclusively with pen (or other writing tool if I must, yes I have used crayon) and paper.

How do you write your poems? Do you have some special thing you have to do first, some special place you have to go? I would be very interested in hearing from fellow poets on how they write down their poems. Please enter a comment and let me know your method.


The Page Stares Back at Me,

writing desk

Image courtesy of (slightly edited by me)

Words are in there,
I feel them,
though they stay hidden.
I try to coax them
by stroking the lines with my pen.
They scatter in meaningless dribble,
afraid of what I may make them say.
Words are tired of being sad.
They long to be happy,
to tell stories of love and romance.
I don’t know how to arrange them,
so they run.
My pen is dry,
my paper empty,
even my Words have left me.

Image courtesy of okbrightstar-stock



Ditch (Photo credit: Ben Bunch)

There are times, when life seems quite mundane, plain, even boring. We travel through our days doing our routines. Work, home, running kids to soccer practice, darts, whatever it is that occupies our time till the next work day. We go through time in a rut and think little of it. Then, for me at least, I read a poem. In an instant I am transported to another world, another time, another mind. I read and the words do something to my soul. They touch me in a way no woman ever has. The gently stroke my sorrows, caress my aches, hug my dying dreams. The words give me life, though I know it is only borrowed time, still I rejoice in the moment of rebirth, while at the same time I know, in the dark recesses of my mind, that the rut awaits and if the words do not come again, to save me in time, I shall lie down and simply cease to be.

I Tried to Write a Poem for You

Mountain Sunset

Mountain Sunset

I Tried to Write a Poem for You

I tried to write
a poem for you,
but it is hard
to write about such beauty.
You intimidate me with
your talent,
your smile,
your soul.

I tried to write
a poem for you,
but thinking of you
makes my heart ache.
It aches from the joy of
knowing you,
talking with you,
being hugged by you.

I tried to write
a poem for you
but all I could think of
was how lucky the man is
whom you love,
to hold you,
to touch you,
to kiss you.

I tried to write
a poem for you
but there are no words
worthy of you.

Sometimes I try to write sappy love things…this is what usually happens. Oh and don’t ask what the picture has to do with the poem. I have no idea. I just think it is cool. It is a computer generated landscape I made and it makes me feel calm.

A Word

A Word

is on my tongue,
the word I long to speak.

It rolls over my pallet
like fine wine.

Swallow it and I am
intoxicated with the joy of it.

Speak it and I am
diminished for the loss of it.

Once uttered it is no longer
mine, but belongs

to Wind and

I can never call it back,
make it mine again.



I strive for reason,
grope through sub-consciousness,
laugh at my desire.

Frail delicious afternoons.
Cold impending winter.
Loves soft chortle.

Grey eternity’s ending.

This is just a silly little exercise. We were given several words and were told to make a poem out of them. I can’t remember which words where there but it was fun and this is what I came up with. Just a little nonsense for the middle of the week.