How to Write a Rant Poem
Poets have long written about the things that vex them. The practice of ranting in poetic verse dates back to at least Ancient Greece, where Homer catches Zeus complaining in The Odyssey: "Mortal men have always put the blame upon us gods!" Though the rant poem is not granted the same canonic acceptance as the sonnet or sestina, rant poetry has flourished from Homer's time to our own.
Rant poetry comes in all shapes and sizes, but it is most commonly defined as a free-verse prose poem written about an exasperating subject. Follow the steps below to wax poetic about any subject that aggravates, pesters, or otherwise drives you batty.
Settle on a single subject that provokes, annoys, exasperates or infuriates you. This subject will be the topic of your rant poem.
Brainstorm a list of reasons why your subject maddens you. Jot down a list of 10-20 specific details about your subject that drive you bonkers.
Decide what tone you want your poem to convey. How do you want your poem to make the reader feel? You might want to make them laugh at your misery, or cringe at your excruciating details.
Choose the details from your brainstorm list that you think will stimulate your audience, and craft them into sentences that reflect your tone. For example, as stated in a handwritten rant called "Airline Complaint," the writer states, "I constructed a stink shield by shoving one end of a blanket into the overhead compartment," which is a funny way to rant poetically about an airline lavatory. (see Reference 1)
Write your rant poem by stringing sentences from your brainstorm together in chronological order. Rant poems, like prose, contain sentences and sentence fragments. Make sure each complaint flows to the next logically, like sentences do in paragraphs.
Break the lines of your poem where it feels appropriate. Prose poems like the rant don't need dramatic line breaks, as they read almost like a short story.
End your rant poem with the single most annoying complaint from your brainstorm list. Rant poems usually run from one to two pages in length.
- Rant poems do not need to rhyme, follow any particular meter, or break into stanzas. Keep the topic to one rant-worthy subject to avoid confusing the reader. Write the rant poem in the present tense.
- "Airline Complaint"
- The Odyssey; Homer, translated by W.H.D. Rouse; 1964