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The Rules of Writing Poetry

One of my students, Allandra, just e-mailed me this morning. (She’s also a co-author of DEAL WITH IT! Powerful Words from Smart, Young Women. I’m not sure what prompted her note to me, but she decided to send me a list of “rules” for writing poetry. I’ve never had a list before, so I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first. But then I read farther and felt a strange falling feeling in my chest as well as a flutter of excitement in my heart. It’s that end-of-the-year feeling that we get when we know we’ve taught something to our students and that they’ve internalized it. However, it’s also that feeling of “Oh wow, they’re leaving me now.”

That being said, here are Allandra’s Rules of Writing Poetry”:

Rules of Writing Poetry

There is some confusion in poetry. Does it have to rhyme or make sense? No, not necessarily.

1. Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.
2. Poetry doesn’t have to make sense.
3. It needs plenty of details.
4. Keep an open mind as you write.
5. As a suggestion create a list of topics that you know are already on you mind at the moment.
6. Add your true feelings and ideas to whatever you decide to write about.

Bad Example of an Acrostic Poem:


Good Example of an Acrostic Poem:

Happy feelings all around
A look of joy upon faces
Purposely smiling
People get the inspiration to smile
You should too!

7. Always remember to put tons of feeling into it and make sure you keep the memories in mind because it can always help you create a really good poem.
8. Have help from a friend or family member (as a peer editor).
9. Think before you begin writing poetry.
10. Take a moment write a list and check of the topics along the way.

Don’t you love when kids surprise you and amaze you. I can think of no better end-of-the-year gift than the one Allandra e-mailed to me this morning.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.

2 thoughts on “The Rules of Writing Poetry Leave a comment

  1. I was looking for rules of poety as I was told that I did not have the same number of syllables in each stanza. Is this really important as I have been checking over some poety that I used to read as a child and it did not have the same sylibles in each stanza.

    So if you could let me know what the rules are exactly are I would appreciate it . Thanks so much April


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