How to write poetry – Wendy Cope (The Guardian)

Wendy Cope wrote an excellent article in The Guardian about how to write poetry: Poetic License.

It seems odd to me that anyone who hates reading poetry should want to write it at all. Are there amateur painters who never go to an art gallery? Or amateur musicians who never listen to music? Sometimes non-reading poets explain that they are afraid of being influenced. They don’t understand that being influenced is part of the learning process.

Read the whole article.

This article helps us understand how to become better at writing poetry. Students of 10C read this aloud in class and were asked to summarise the main points. Wendy advises:

  • reading good poems from all ages and cultures
  • being influenced by others is part of the learning process
  • writing in an authentic voice
  • finding enjoyment in the poems
  • being genuinely motivated (by love or interest)
  • developing a knowledge of technical skills
  • asking oneself: Am I telling the truth?
  • avoiding cliched responses
  • responding from the heart

Student task: Go back to your own poem after having read more poetry (in the blog). Read all poems and then choose 3 to look at in detail. Take notes about these 3 poems in your notebooks in the following format:




Big ideas:

Structural features (eg how it’s organised; narrative viewpoint):

Language (note down words/phrases/metaphors that you think work very well; talk about repetitions, etc.; use quotations in quotation marks):


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