Thursday, February 7, 2013

Writing Love Poems

Love Poems
With Valentines Day on the horizon, I thought it would be a cinch to teach you and your kids to write love poems like a pro. After many painful hours of research, I can tell you, that love poems, as famous as they are, aren't actually a separate form of poetry. But I can share with you some tips to get your poem going in the right direction.

Love Poems are really just talking about the subject matter. So although knowing that can be a bit daunting, on the other hand, it can be quite liberating for your creativity. So go ahead and do what you want. You don't need anyone's permission. Let the muse within you speak through your words. However, you might want to avoid these common mistakes when writing love poetry.

1. Avoid Cliche's. This is much easier to say than it is to do. The trouble when you are trying to write love poetry is that humans have complex emotions. We always feel more than one thing at a time, and in any given moment. The process of filtering your emotions is a very unique, and personal endeavor. For me, an easy way is to freewrite. Just let your emotions poor out onto the page. Then distill them by underlying words that stand out to you. But this process is as unique as we are. I have a friend who talks through her emotions and records it. Do what works for you.

2. Don't try to re-invent the wheel. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery. So if you know you can copy the style of another poem to speak to your love, then do it. While this may not be the best advice in the scholastic setting, if it gets your creative juices flowing, then do it. Most people in love just want to be acknowledged, or know that their partner does notice some little detail about them to show they have been paying attention.

3. Don't try to compose a first draft and just go with it. Poets are a strange lot, even as far as writers go. They have to have concise use of language on a finite scale. They are taking complex feelings and distilling them down to a very select and deliberate choice of words. Even the best of poets, don't try to attempt to do this. They know that they have to write, and re-write the poem over and over again until it says exactly what they want it to say.

4. Don't wait until the last minute. Any mom who has ever done a project with her child can tell you this is true. You may have to think about this poem for days and have a bunch of post its in your planner, that have the lines that come to you at random moments. Even then, it will probably take a few drafts before it begins to take form. Give yourself time to reflect and hear your inner voice.

5. Don't over-analyse it. I know as a writer, this is my biggest pitfall. While 90% of the time you will have to create anywhere from 4-20 drafts to finally get it right, there is that other 10% of the time when you keep returning to your first draft. However, even still, there may be a slight change that may be important. Usually this is punctuation or something that would seem minor, but will change the overall flow of your poem. It is important. It matters, but don't stare at it too long. Then it will become a jumble of meaningless words on a page. Fighting the eccentric nature of the poem will just destroy it.

You've got a week until Valentines Day, now get started. Join in the conversation.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, she is the proud mother of three girls, and dreams of traveling the world one day. To read more of Laurie's stories visit her column at:

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