What Makes A Good Poem? What Every Poet Needs To Know 

by CJ McDaniel // April 29  

When writing any literary work, there’s a need to deliver the perfect write-up. Be it prose, drama, or poetry, a good piece of writing ensures the author reaches and captivates a large audience.

It’s essential for you as an author to write a good poem. There is tons of good poetry out there. So, you have to be extraordinarily good to make a name for yourself.

This article focuses on what makes a good poem. Continue reading for an in-depth understanding of the topic.

What Makes A Good Poem?

Most times, you have to read lots of poems before you find one that appeals to you. In essence, how appealing a poem is, depends on the person reading it. However, some things can make your poem good enough to be published and accepted by an audience. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Convey ideas in the best form: Use whatever style you feel will enable you to express your poem in the best possible way. You can make your poem rhyme or not. Just make sure that what you choose conveys your ideas well.

Make the right word choice: Words are the colors of your poem. Therefore, the words you use should be clear and relevant to your poem. Sometimes, changing a word can improve a poem’s quality.

Use clear images: A good poem should have clear images that express the ideas. It helps the poem to show the readers what it’s about rather than tell them. So, it makes sense to the readers.

Give room for imagination: A good poem should not give away too little or many details. It shouldn’t hide what the poem intends and, at the same time, not spell out everything the poet wants to deliver. It should create room for the readers to imagine and experience the poem.

Have strong emotional and intellectual quality: A good poem should evoke a strong emotional reaction from the readers. The poem should also be such that the reader will thoughtfully decipher it. It should make them think and feel what it narrates.

Common Types Of Poem  

Sonnet: It’s of Italian origin. It usually has two forms: the Shakespearean (Elizabethan) and the Petrarchan (Italian). It’s mostly about love and is a fourteen-line poem. The Petrarchan sonnet has two stanzas and contains an observation or a question in the first eight lines.

The second stanza also answers the question or responds to the observation made in the first. The rhyme scheme is ABBA, ABBA, and CDE CDE. An example is “Sonnet 227” by Petrarch, translated by A.S. Kline.

On the other hand, the Shakespearean sonnet has four stanzas. The first three stanzas have four lines each, and the last is a couplet (2 lines) that is usually the conclusion. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, and GG. An example is “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” by William Shakespeare.    

Haiku: It’s of Japanese origin. It usually centers on beauty and nature. It also tends to place two ideas or images side by side, and their pronunciation differentiates them. It’s a three-line poem and sometimes contains seventeen syllables.

The first and third lines have five syllables, while the second line has seven syllables. Examples are “the lamp once out” by Natsume Soseki and “An old silent pond” by Matsuo Basho.

Free verse: It has no specific rules. So, it doesn’t have a consistent rhyme scheme or musical form. You can choose to rhyme or not. An example is “Portrait of a lady” by William Carlos Williams.

Limerick: This is a humorous poem. It usually contains elementary concepts that appear as a joke. It’s usually a five-line poem with a single stanza. That comprises two longer lines, two shorter lines, and one closing line (that emphasizes the joke).

The long lines usually have 7 to 10 syllables, the shorter lines, 5 to 7 syllables, and the closing line, 7 to 10 syllables. Its rhyme scheme is AABBA. An example is “the man from Nantucket.”

Soliloquy: A monologue expresses the inner thoughts of the character. It usually involves the character speaking directly to themselves loudly.

Ode: This focuses on a specific person, event, or thing. Sometimes, it’s a tribute (not necessarily to a dead subject). It’s usually not required to rhyme and doesn’t follow a regular pattern. An example is “Ode to the west wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Villanelle: It contains lots of repetitions and is a nineteen-line poem. It also has five stanzas with three lines each. Also, it has a closing stanza with four lines. Sometimes, line 1 and line 3 contains repetitions. Sometimes, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, and ABAA are the rhyme scheme. An example is “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop.

Acrostic: In this poem, the first letter of each line can spell out a word, phrase, or name. So this way, you can intentionally write a poem using any words of your choice. An example is “Nuggets” by Sathya Narayana.

Ballad: It’s a narrative poem, which tells stories. It’s usually written in groups of four lines. The rhyme scheme is either ABAB or ABCB. An example is “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan.

Facts About Writing A Good Poem

Writing a good poem benefits the author and readers. It’s a two-way thing. So, it’s crucial for every author to strive to deliver the best poem possible. Here is what a great poem entails.

  • A poem expresses your ideas about an event.
  • It’s a basis for communicating personal feelings and creating stronger relationships.
  • It’s usually social. It enables people who share the same values to connect. It can be through a poetry group.
  • It requires you to expand your vocabulary and line of thoughts.
  • A poem can inspire or educate.
  • The poem creates an appreciation of life and helps you appreciate beauty and nature.
  • Poetry is a skill that lasts a lifetime. You can write a poem no matter how old you are.
  • It’s an accomplishment, especially when recognized publicly.
  • You can expand any topic or line of thought of your choice.

Steps For Writing A Good Poem

Choose an idea or topic: An idea or topic is usually a starting point for your poem. It can be even easier if you have a theme around your topic. Your topic should be something your readers can relate to. It may be something you like or even someone you admire.

Choose the type of poem: This will help you pattern your topic towards the form you choose.

Whether your poem will be short or long will be determined by the type of poem. For instance, you’ll require fewer stanzas for a ballad than a sonnet.

Read other related poetry: You don’t have to conduct a lot of research to write a poem like other literary works. However, you’ll need to go through the work of other poets that relates to the form you choose. It’ll also inspire you to write the poem.

Write a draft in prose: Now that you have an idea or topic, it’s time to construct something with your theme. You’re not writing the actual poem yet but a storyline. Write down whatever comes to mind. It’s not your outline but a sketch of the story it should point to.

Make use of literary devices: Good poems contain literary devices. They help you “show” and not just “tell” your poem. So, they create an image in the mind of your audience. So you can make use of similes, metaphors, and symbolisms to boost your poem. They make your readers experience it beyond the ordinary meaning.

You’ll represent an abstract idea with a word, phrase, or object when you use symbolism. Sometimes your poem can have more than one meaning, leaving the readers to interpret it in their way.

Using metaphors and similes effectively can help you write like a renowned poet. Also, they’ll express the beauty of your poem. However, you’ll need to brainstorm on the right way to use them.

Avoid using clichés: Don’t use thoughts or phrases that are overused and will make your work seem like it’s not original.

Write from your heart so that it will sound like you when read aloud. Your poem should make the readers feel what you’re writing. You have to be careful when using similes and metaphors as they may come off as clichés.

Write for yourself first: Sometimes, the pressure of writing for an audience or keeping a rule can make your poem seem rigid. So, sit back and write for yourself. Write because you enjoy it and want to express yourself. That way, your poem can be more flexible and show your inner thoughts.

Read your poem aloud: Reading it out loud to yourself will help you know if it’s reflecting your tone. It can also make you amend lines that don’t feel or sound right. You can also read it to someone else to check and make further adjustments.

Take a break: When you finish with your draft, don’t start revising immediately. Take out time to rest or engage in another activity. It will help you review it with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Revise your work: Revising your poem will require patience. Have fun while you revise. You can let your poetry group criticize it constructively or give it to a professional poetry editor. Whatever option you go for, take your time to come up with a great poem.

A Handy Tip: Take every criticism seriously, whether it’s constructive or not. Learn from criticisms and improve your writing. It’s better for a group to criticize your work than for your audience to do the same.


Writing a poem is a way to express your inner thoughts and feelings. But you have to write a good poem for your audience to enjoy when published. Your ability to be flexible and use the proper steps can make a difference. Finally, be creative when you’re writing and enjoy the process.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!