Where did I learn how to write poetry?
I'll let you into a little secret - I'm still learning, Shane would probably tell you the same thing too if you asked him. I can tell you how I started to write poetry and where I learned some of the basics if that's helpful.
It all started for me when I was a kid, I got ill, not deathbed ill, just that stay in bed run of the mill bouts of sickness all kids get. The only danger I was in was from boredom, if it happened now I could do it standing on my head with the aid of a pile of books a steady stream of coffee but back then my attention span didn't extend to long books. My mum though didn't know that, she went out and bought some second hand children's books from the local market and piled them beside my bed, among them was the spark that got me interested in poetry.
The book was called 'A Childs garden of verse' written by Robert Louis Stevenson and one particular poem 'spoke' to me, I couldn't believe it, this poem was about me it was as if it was written for me, at that point I wanted to be Robert Louis Stevenson.
I read that book cover to cover maybe a thousand times, I worked out the pattern of the words, how the tune was created. I noticed the beats and the importance of sound - not just rhyme but how some words just naturally flowed and some jarred and that both were useful - and then mum said I wasn't sick anymore, I dropped the book like a hot coal and went out to kick a ball around a field.
A couple of years later in a lesson at school the teacher read a poem by Dylan Thomas and for homework challenged the class to write a poem. I got home at four o'clock, by ten past had written my first poem, and was kicking a ball around a field quicker than you could say onomatopoeia. The next day in class the teacher said that only a handful of kids had managed to write a poem and that amazingly one kid had managed to write a half decent villanelle. She read my poem out loud, not to the class though, she read it to the whole school, I was so embarrassed I swore I'd never write another, I guess deep down I was pretty proud too, once the bruises healed, because I continued to write poems - I just kept them to myself.
I'm not suggesting you need to get ill to learn the basics of poetry Zinc, my suggestion is that you study a poem that you like, work out how it ticks and then try to copy the style. Can you learn poetry from a 'how to write poetry' book? I guess you could, I didn't though, part of me is always sceptical as to why the folk writing those books aren't too busy writing kick-ass poetry. If you ever find a 'How to' book by Dylan Thomas though - let me know.
Read through these forums, find someone who writes like you want to write and ask them how they do it, if you can't find a poem that 'speaks' to you post a challenge to write something in the style you're looking for. Like I said, there are a whole bunch of folk who could help you out - interactively.
Hope that helps.
[This message has been edited by Grinch (08-08-2010 10:45 AM).]