the creative mind

How to Write Horrible Poetry

“No chaos, no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.” 

 Mason Cooley

You know that feeling when you have no inspiration whatsoever to write, create, or do anything? Or when you have writer’s block? I have a solution for you! It’s called the write-whatever-comes-to-you-and-get-the-awful-uncreative-and-unproductive-stuff-out method (WWCTYAGTAUAUSOM). [Or, with some imagination, “wiwick tiag too awesome.”  It’s a bit more fun, don’t you think?]

There are 7 steps to my method. Hope you’re inspired!

Step 1: Don’t take yourself seriously.

Seriously. Don’t do it. Ridiculosity is a must. The goal of bad poetry is not to make a point, or even to make sense. Leave that soul-building to the good poetry. Our goal here is to make the audience groan and roll their eyes (a sure sign of appreciation) or blink quizzically, like owls.

Step 2: Set a time limit.

Bad poetry is fairly spontaneous. Take too long and you’re taking yourself seriously. And that is a no-no. Please see step 1 for reference.

Step 3: Choose a topic and poetry form.

Do not, however, feel obligated to adhere strictly to these decisions. Bad poetry often takes people by surprise, like a mugging in a meadow of marigolds (and it’s even more fun than a mugging!). Improvisation is encouraged, particularly when the results are absurd.

Also, the more ridiculous or mundane the topic, the more fun you can have with it. As I stated before, horrible poetry isn’t supposed to be profound or insightful. It thrives on being shallow and pointless. So say what comes to you, and don’t overanalyze.

Step 4: Begin writing.

Now that you have a perception of your poem’s path to perfection, put your pen to paper to prepare a poem worthy of praise and approval. (Hooray for alliteration!)

I often picture Jim Carrey reading my poem at a coffee shop’s poetry night as inspiration for my tone. That, or I channel my inner kindergartener.

Step 5: Use all poetic devices as poorly as possible.

Time to remember those terms you learned in high school English class.

Alliteration: This is generally only effective when used subtly and sparingly. That is not the case here. Effective alliteration in horrible poetry means throwing a figurative pie in the audience’s face. It has the subtlety of Godzilla. Reread the explanation for Step 4 if you’re confused.

Rhyme: Rhyme is completely acceptable; I’ll even encourage it. The key here is that it shouldn’t sound pretty, or even heinous. The best horrible poetry sounds wrong. It breaks its own patterns.

Meter: Do whatever works for your poem. For further guidelines, review information from Rhyme.

Similes and Metaphors: I can’t tell you as well as I can show you. Click here for examples.

Step 6: Revise.

If you sense a glimmer of veritable goodness in your poem, set it aside for your elite poetry. This isn’t the NFL. It isn’t even pee wee football. This is an all-you-can-eat, free-form, breakfast EXPLOSION! (Kudos if you get that reference.)

Step 7: Share with as many people as possible.

It’s no fun to keep the treasures you produce to yourself. Share your marvelous musings with friends and family. Use it as an ice breaker or the means to end an awkward conversation. If people stare at you, don’t worry: they’re just dazzled by your brilliance.

In the spirit of sharing, here are some examples of horrible poems that I have written:


Silver icicles
Glinting in the pale moonlight
One falls down and breaks

Free verse

Red is a color that often denotes excitement
Yellow is sunshine and smiles
Orange is difficult to rhyme
Purple is for royalty
Green is what winter killed
Blue is for baby whales

I have no idea what poetry form this is.

I like to eat
I like the sweet
Deliciousness of meat.
And when it’s gone
I start to yawn
Because I’m tired.

Can’t get enough, right? Sorry! But that will have to suffice for now. What are you doing still reading? Go write your own horrible poetry!

Comments on: "How to Write Horrible Poetry" (1)

  1. So fun, Kelli! I love your horrible poems!

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