How to Write Poems That Don't Rhyme
Poetry can be constructed in unlimited ways, whether it rhymes or not. There is no set formula. If there were, the world would be missing a great deal of linguistic beauty. It is important to keep this in mind, as preconceived ideas about poetry can limit your ability to express your ideas. When you have the opportunity to write non-rhyming poetry, you can let your imagine be your guide. Imagine you are an artist, creating something original, just as a painter such as Salvador Dali or Vincent Van Gogh might.
Free verse, as the name suggests, offers the greatest amount of freedom in poetic writing. You don't need to be concerned with rhyme or meter when you write this type of poetry, nor any particular structure. Rather, you create meaning in the patterns you give to the lines, stanzas and imagery in your poem, according to the Texas A&M University writing center. There is no wrong way to write such a poem. To get started, think of a topic and begin to write what comes to mind. Leave the poem for a few days, and revisit it. Edit out all unnecessary words, striving to leave the words that carry the most meaning and impact.
Attend a poetry slam and you'll hear plenty of non-rhyming poetry. Not all of it is free verse, however. Often, what gives the poems the spine-tingling quality that keeps people coming back for more is the use of meter. Meter is the rhythm that a poem has, and non-rhyming poems that use meter are referred to as blank verse. To use meter in your poetry, listen for the accents of the words you use, and put them in order, just as you would the beats of a drum. Recite the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" a couple of times and you'll hear the rhythm. Put meter in your own poetry by reading each line you write out loud, listening for the accents and replacing words that don't fit "the beat."
If the idea of writing free verse or even blank verse seems to difficult or not your style, try your hand at using a poetic form. Haiku, acrostics and sestinas provide a very strict structure. Beginning poets will likely want to start with the much simpler and shorter haiku. A traditional Japanese haiku has five syllables in the first line, seven in the next and five in the last. Haiku writers writing in English do not always stick to this syllabication rule, as English words tend to have more syllables, according to educator and haiku enthusiast Patricia Burleson. Strive to create words that convey an image. Get started by taking a walk or contemplating an object of beauty or a sensation. To write an acrostic poem, simply write an inspiring word vertically on the page and use the letters in that word to inspire lines of poetry about that subject.
It is often difficult to get started on a non-rhyming poem, even if you're using a particular form. To get ideas, try opening a book to random pages with your eyes closed. Put your finger on the page and open your eyes. Repeat this process until you have 10 or 20 words to work with. Play with the words, arranging them in different orders and looking for relationships that inspire you. This is one of many creative techniques that can get you started writing your poem. For additional ideas, check the Poets & Writers website for writing prompts that can stimulate your creativity.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.