How to Write an Image Poem
An image poem is a poetic form that uses descriptions of visual images to demonstrate a subject or emotion. Image poetry can often be in narrative form, and its style relies on the flow of the relationships among the images conveyed in the poem. Popular poets who used image poetry in their work include Emily Dickinson.
Choose the subject of your poem. The subject can be an emotion, such as joy, or an event, such as a war, or even a person. It might be easiest to begin with a tangible subject so you can practice with real images before moving on to metaphorical imagery.
Pick some images that represent your subject. For example, if you are writing a poem about joy, you might want to pick images of children at play or other pictures that represent joy to you. If you are writing your image poem about an event, you may want to choose images from the event, along with pictures that represent the emotion of the event as well.
Decide on your poetic form. You can choose a standard poetic form, or you can decide your own meter or rhyme scheme. Some poems do not have a meter or rhyme scheme. An image poem is defined by its use of imagery to express the subject of the poem and can be flexible in its form.
Describe your chosen images in a concise and emotional manner within the form you have chosen for your image poem. At the heart of poetry is communicating a depth of emotion and clarity of imagery in a way that is not possible in standard prose.
Arrange the image description in an emotionally powerful way. You may find that there is an inherent order in the image descriptions as they relate to each other. Play around with the layout of your poem until you are happy with it.
Relate the image descriptions to each other. If you find that any of the descriptions do not flow into the next image description well, you may decide to add to or rewrite your description to better relate it to the rest of the poetic images.
Step away from your poem for a day or so, then come back and read it to yourself out loud. Substitute synonyms for words that seem awkward or out of place. If a phrase does not fit well, consider rewriting it or removing it completely.
- Don't edit yourself too much. Let the poem flow freely as it comes to you; there is always time for editing later.
- If you have image poem writer's block on a computer, try writing with a different instrument, or on different paper. Some people like writing with pencils, some like pens, and some like crayons on construction paper. You can even try writing on a sidewalk with chalk. Do what works for you.
- Writing Instrument (Computer keyboard, pen, pencil, marker, crayon, chalk)
- Writing Surface (Computer, blank paper, lined paper, construction paper)