Let’s Write A Bad Poem

Work titled "Machine For Writing Poetry&q...
Work titled “Machine For Writing Poetry” by Rita Boley Bolaffio circa 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hand this little writing exercise out when I have a substitute and have to be out of the classroom.  It is a fun writing exercise that makes students think about how they structure their writing and reviews some of the finer points of style.

Everyone can write poetry.  There is no secret or tricks, no divine inspiration and no challenge of the cranium.  Anyone can write poetry. If you follow my simple instructions, you will be writing poetry.  Here is the catch: the poetry you will be writing will not be good.  It will be downright awful, but it will be poetry and you will have fun writing it.  This method cannot and will not turn you into the next Willy Shakespeare, but you will be able to create a verse or two at the next office jam, rather than sitting like a wallflower and getting zero respect.

Line One – Take two nouns and fill them into this phrase: “In the ________ of my ________,”

Line Two – Use one of the five senses to describe the intangible.

Example: “I touched a memory of the setting sun” or “I smelled the painful emotion” or “I heard the distant thoughts of Daytona”.

Line Three – Finish this sentence:  “My name is ________.”

Line Four – Write two actions linked with the word “and”

Example: “I rubbed my head and washed a window.” or “I sing a song and play hopscotch” or “I played basketball and drove a car.”

Line Five – Compare two different colors.

Example: “Red is better than Yellow” or “Green is more dominant than Black” or “Aquamarine is more masculine than Turquoise”

Line Six – State a preference for a food substance for someone else.

Example: “Patrick likes steak.” or “My dentist enjoys a good candy bar” or “Tiger Woods hates a warm cup of Gatorade”

Line Seven – Anthropomorphize an animal doing something.

Example: “The dog played the banjo” or “The manatee did my taxes” or “The duck-billed platypus ran for Congress”

Line Eight – Assign a sound for something silent

Example: “The book went buzz-buzz” or “Woohoo sounded the wall” or “IckyIckyFaTang yelled the grass”

Line Nine – Describe a place starting with the word, “But”

Example: “But Alaska is cold” or “But Detroit is a fun, friendly place” or “But Canada has Canadians in it”

Line Ten – Write an oxymoron

Example: “Silent noise” or “Jumbo shrimp” or “Tall shortness”

All you have to do is follow these easy steps, and you will be writing your own bad poetry in no time!

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

7 thoughts on “Let’s Write A Bad Poem

  1. This is more fun than a bag full of weasels:

    In the sea of my pancreas
    the sight of bloody wisdom rose
    My name is Hans
    it said and flittered down the drain
    swirling redder and redder
    like a man who likes ’em rare
    preferably speaking to him from his plate
    a steak that screams with the anger of a thousand injustices
    but a crime scene is without witnesses
    masking noises of silence.

  2. You were right. It was fun. Here’s mine:

    In the hollow of my cubicle,
    I touch the sadness of time wasted.
    My name is Telephone.
    I speak lies and listen to pleasantries.
    Beige is more palatable than crimson.
    My user likes sticky beverages.
    An elephant runs the calculator.
    The empty can screams, “Why!?”
    But the bookstore runs smoothly.
    Illiterates read.

  3. These are all cool poetry ideas. I was in a grade 3 class last year and the teacher came up with the title, “Where I’m from…” and told the class they had to write a poem about themselves beginning each line with, “I am from________” . They didn’t necessarily have to come up with places they were from, but had to use describing words to tell some of their interests, physical features, etc. For example: “I am from words, words that sing, words that excite, words that soothe and inspire.” This tells the reader that I am a writer, or at least I hope it does! lol

    Thanks for sharing other ideas to inspire poetry, even bad poetry. 🙂

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