Jerry Pinto: Some Ways Not to Write a Poem

Jerry Pinto is a poet, novelist and writer of splendid non-fiction.

1. Please don’t try and rhyme. If you do it all the time, you will end up wasting time.

You see what happened there? I started by saying don’t rhyme and then I thought up a nice rhyme and I thought it would be a crime not to rhyme this time and suddenly I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say but I was saying what the rhyme wanted me to say. The last word was suddenly ruling the rest of the sentence. So you don’t have to rhyme. But the words must sound nice and musical. See if you can set them to a beat, a thumpetty-thumpetty-thump.

2. Don’t be sloppy and soppy.

Please don’t tell me you love your Mummy, she is so sweet, she makes nice things for me to eat.

Oh Goosefeathers, I’m doing it again. I know it is your Mummy and I know you love her. We all love our Mummies. The Egyptians love their Mummies so much they put them in glass cases and charge people to see them. Ha ha.

Okay, so if you want to talk about your Mummy don’t talk about how lovely she is. Because when you hear someone saying how his Mummy is cho chweet you want to throw up, right? So why do you want to make other people throw up telling them about the chweetness of your Mummy?

3. Don’t write a poem like another poem

I was judging a poetry writing competition in which a child wrote a poem: Mummy fell into the pond.

This is stupid, right? Everyone knows there is a poem: Daddy fell into the pond.

So if you write a poem that is like some poem that already exists, you’re really wasting time. That poem is already there. It is on the internet. Everything is on the Internet, including pictures of you as a baby, because your parents went mad with pride when you were born and put you up on the Net when you looked like you were a piece of strawberry that had been trod upon by a camel.

4. Write about what you know.

Write about school. Write about recess. Write about how annoying it
is when a samosa breaks when you bite into it. Write about icecream dripping on your shirt. Write about hockey. Write about selfies.

5. Don’t write inspirational stuff.

Teachers like it when you write:

I will try my very best
in everything I do
But if I don’t win the prize
I won’t be blue
For I know that taking part
Is important too.

But is this what you feel? If you write a poem because a teacher will like it, you are not writing poetry. You are writing suck-uppery.

6. Write about what you feel.

7. And finally read lots of poetry. Read it aloud. Read a poem a day. And you might one day write a poem. That will be reward enough.



  1. That’s the miracle of writing.. It was this that made me a writer/ author and now a blogger. Sitting down to communicate through writing, is by itself meditation as our thoughts gather and queue up and we can experience the better words coming forward in our thought to get chosen to appear and take part in our expression. There is a poet in each of us. But by choosing impulsively to speak up or reply, most of us never develop the patience to think and act/ react and thus we never gain finesse in our expression.

    I would blame Cheap Telephony as the primary cause for majority of the population not developing this skill. This becoming a trait is the worry as the worst affected is the future generation. Our great grand generation had Letter writing as a habit and letters would take a week or month to reach. But now, emails reach in no time, but still people choose to pick up the phone and end up yakking.

    Pick up this habit of emailing by reducing phone, we can see a poet and a writer emerging from within each of us.

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