How to Write a Short Poem About a Book
Writing a short poem about a book is an effective way to summarize a topic, theme or character in an artistic way. Poetry is descriptive and emotional, so you can focus on elements of the book that inspired, intrigued or moved you. You won't be able to summarize the entire book in your short poem, so focus on one element, character or theme that stood out. Use alliteration, metaphors and symbolism to make your poem come to life.
Themes and Morals
Focus on a central theme or a moral to the story when you write your short poem. Opt for a blank-verse style if you want your poem to have a consistent rhythm and meter or use a free-verse style if you prefer word images that flow smoothly but don't follow specific patterns. Discuss how the themes set the tone and mood for the book. For example, if you're writing a poem on "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, your poem should discuss themes that center on isolation, ridicule and judgment. A stanza may read, "The badge she wore upon her chest did ache with hateful words. The burning brand of judgment's wrath had left her all alone."
Write a poem that offers an analysis of one of the main characters of the book, such as the protagonist or the antagonist. Discuss how the character changes over time to become a better person or a more threatening menace. Use rhyming words and alliteration -- repetitive letters and sounds -- to create traditional poetic verse. For example, if your poem is about the book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, write a character analysis of Huck. A stanza might read, "Huck doesn't come from wealth or fame and lacks the things so fine. But in a world of racist rogues, his values are divine."
Discuss the book's central conflict and resolution in your poem. Use couplets or quatrains -- two- or four-line stanzas -- to help your poem flow smoothly. Your poem should give enough information for readers to understand the underlying conflict, without spelling it out word for word. Poetry allows readers to speculate on deeper meanings behind the words. For example, if your poem is on the book "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you might include a couplet, such as "Gatsby's love for Daisy brought him endless nights of sleep. But when his final hour came, her love he could not keep."
Symbols or Imagery
Include imagery, symbolism, metaphors and similes in your poem. These elements help poems stand out from ordinary book reports. Use imagery to describe the setting and include metaphors to explain the plot. For example, if you're writing a poem about Suzanne Collins' book "The Hunger Games," use imagery to describe the forest where the games take place. A line might say, "The forest loomed over Katniss like an owl searching for its prey," or "The dark woods covered Katniss like a smothering blanket."
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Writing About Poetry
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College: Learning Lab Tips on Critical Analysis -- Poetry
- The Scarlet Letter; Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Mark Twain
- The Great Gatsby; F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Hunger Games; Suzanne Collins
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.