How to Write a Mood Poem
Mood, the feeling or atmosphere of a piece of poetry, is an important literary device used to create successful poetry, and in mood poems, mood is the dominant communicative force between poet and reader. In order for a poet’s intent to be accurately interpreted, it’s essential to understand what creates mood and why.
The poetic line enables you to manipulate words and phrases in a unique and powerful way. If your intent is for the poem’s mood to convey a formal, structured feel, a conventional sentence structure is one tool you could use. A fragment or series of fragmented lines could be used if you wish your poem to feel free or even mysterious. Ending a poetic line in the middle of a thought, forcing your reader to mentally complete it, is a strong tool for creating a tense mood.
Positive and Negative Words
Each word, in consideration with its context, has a positive or negative connotation that can drastically alter the mood of a particular piece. If you decide to use the word “gather” instead of “capture” in a poetic line, it’s important to realize the ramifications of choosing a word with a light, positive tone, “gather,” as opposed to “capture,” which is restricting and even aggressive. A specific, poignant word choice has the ability to immediately change the feel and atmosphere of a poem.
The rhythm of a particular line can be manipulated by the number of syllables in a word or cluster of words, as well as by which vowel sounds are prominent, and the sound of its consonants. A string of single-syllable words in a poetic line can create a certain speed and urgency, which will contribute to an overall feeling of anxiousness, frustration or even anger, depending the words. By using full vowel sounds such as ‘o’, ‘a’ and ‘ee,’ you can establish a slower-paced rhythm, ultimately contributing to a sadder or more relaxed atmosphere.
Creating an image in the mind of a reader is one of the most powerful tools at the poet’s disposal. Describing a particular image with clarity brings the reader close to the poem, and engages him in a way that’s personal and strong. Which images you create will sway the overall mood of the poem drastically. If you create an image of a woman drowning, the mood will immediately turn dark and ominous, but if positive, happy images are used, the mood will be immediately pulled in that particular direction.
Jake Shore is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, published short story writer and professor at Wagner College. His short fiction has appeared in many publications including Litro Magazine, one of London's leading literary magazines. Shore earned his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.