How to Write Poetry

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have heard that you wish to know how to write poetry and that you do not know how. As you have asked me for instructions and I am a poet, I will attempt to give you the best that I know of how to write what you must come to call poetry. I hope that these words will be sufficient for you, as they are honestly all I know about writing.

I am assuming that you have made a habit out of reading poetry. If you have not, start. Read the masters: Poe, Yeats, Thoreau, Plath, Whitman, Olson, and anyone else that you find calls to the very nature of who you are.

And once you have read them, ignore their rules, syntax, diction, and force yourself to speak your own voice. Your voice is you at your worst, yelling at your children, throwing rocks at cars, and laughing at elderly women as they fall and break their hips. Get comfortable with it, embrace it, hold that miscreant dear, and do not be ashamed or embarrassed by what others may judge you for. They will judge you, and when they do, pull your bastard inner child out and tell ‘em to fuck off in the most polite and socially acceptable way possible.

Tell the truth and lie only when necessary to make the truth more evident. And when you lie, be proud of it.

Tell your friends and family that your skeletons are coming out. Some of them will leave. Let them.

Get comfortable with using profanity, as every motherfucking nigger bitch-ass cunt should, and only use it when necessary. They are words, words are your tools, and nothing is sacred. Even God is a fucking whore sometimes.

Kneel before your words. Humbleness is better than righteousness. Unless righteousness is needed, then refer to the comment about lying.

And finally, write… about everything. Shamelessly. Bleed your pain onto paper, embarrass your friends and family, let your secret loves escape, and apologize for nothing, not one word.


Michael Barry

© Michael Barry 2013