1. Parenting
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

How to Write a Poem to Give to Someone

Grandparents Can Help Grandchildren Create Poems to Give as Special Gifts

By

Reading poetry and writing in a journal daily will help you write a poem.

Journaling and reading poetry can help you write your own poems.

Photo © Iain Sarjeant / iStockphoto
Using a computer to write a poem makes editing easy.

Using a computer to write a poem makes editing easy.

Photo © Claudia Dewald / iStockphoto
Write a poem for a grandchild.

Capture a grandchild's special qualities with a poem.

Photo © S. Adcox

"I can't write a poem!" This is a common reaction from many, young and old, when the topic of poetry-writing is broached. The truth is that it's easy to write a poem. You're not going for a Pulitzer Prize or a spot in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. You just want to tell someone how you feel about them. This is a great way for grandparents to express their love for their grandchildren, but helping a grandchild to write a poem for someone else -- Mom or Dad or another grandparent -- can also be a wonderful bonding experience.

Step One: The first line is extremely easy: This is a poem for you, _____. Simply fill in the blank with the name of the person being addressed.

Step Two: The next step is to brainstorm different attributes of the person the poem is for. These can be physical attributes or personality traits, but they should be described as precisely as possible. Then choose the three most vivid attributes and add them to the poem in three separate lines. Begin each line with the word "for." Here's an example:
for your dancing brown eyes
for your happy dancing feet
for your smile that could light up New York City

Step Three: Repeat the first line. Then brainstorm a list of the good things that the person does. Choose three and add them to your poem like this:
This is a poem for you, _____
because you love all living things
you gobble down life with gusto
you make us laugh every day

By now you will have begun to notice some things about the poem that you are writing. You can go back and polish it up a bit, or you can continue on to the end do the polishing later. Here are some of the things to notice:

  • We're not writing a rhyming poem, because searching for words that rhyme tends to drive the poem. If a rhyme just happens, that's called random rhyme, and that's okay.
  • Another technique that makes a poem sound good is alliteration, or repetition of the sounds at the beginning of words. This may have happened naturally. If it didn't, it's easy to go back and put some in. Don't overdo it or you'll end up with a tongue-twister.
  • Don't worry about punctuation. Use only if needed for clarity of meaning.
  • Make your lines approximately the same length. A longer line will be read more quickly, and a shorter one will slow the reader down and add emphasis.
Step Four: Go back to your last list and choose three more things the person does. Add these to your poem as follows:
I love the way you
play the piano
put together your own outfits
show off your ballet moves

 

Step Five: Now brainstorm your wishes for the person. Choose three and add them to the poem like this:
I hope that you will
get most of what you want from life
Keep your dancing shoes on
always remember your Grannie who loves you.

Step Six: Read over your poem. Extend any thoughts that need extending, add parenthetical comments if you like, and do more polishing as mentioned above. Divide the poem into stanzas if you like. Ample spacing makes a poem less intimidating to the reader.

Step Seven: Add emphasis to your ending. Consider breaking your last line into two parts to slow the poem down. Think about adding a period at the end even if you haven't used other punctuation.

Here's my finished poem for my granddaughter Helen:

This is a poem for you, Helen
for your dancing brown eyes
for your happy dancing feet
for your smile that could light up New York City

This is a poem for you, Helen
because you cherish all living things
you gobble down life with gusto
you make us laugh every day

I love the way you
play the piano
put together your own outfits
show off your ballet moves

I hope that you will
keep your dancing shoes on
and get most of what you want from life
though into every life some rain must fall
(it makes us strong)

I also hope that you will always
always
remember your Grannie
who loves you.

Do you like it? I do. Now it's your turn!

See more ideas for gifts for grandchildren, or consider creating a keepsake journal or a photo book as a special gift.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.