Poetry for Beginners: Write Poems That Have An Impact | Tasmin Hansmann | Skillshare

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Poetry for Beginners: Write Poems That Have An Impact

teacher avatar Tasmin Hansmann, Author, Storyteller, Environmentalist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      How Poetry Can Change your Life


    • 3.

      Finding Purpose in Each Poem


    • 4.

      Exploring the Diversity of Poetry


    • 5.

      Enter the Flow State


    • 6.

      Let It Rest


    • 7.

      Failure is a Part of the Process


    • 8.

      Share Your Work


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Poetry is inside of all of us. You just need to find a way to discover and transform it into a message that has the power for change.

Tasmin Hansmann, freelance writer and author, knows how to write poetry that transforms your life. She has written and published the poetry collection The Anatomy of Waves, which deals with trauma, healing and finding belonging. Her new book, Welcome Home Dear Soul, is a poetic encounter with death, shaping grief and wonder into an atmospheric story.

This 30 minute class will show you ways on how to write poetry that has an impact. Not only on the world around you and potential readers, but most of all yourself. 

Tasmin introduces you to techniques, formats and practices that help you discover your inner voice and how to get it onto paper and, eventually, out into the world. This class is for beginners as well as advanced students. Lessons include:

  • Finding a specific purpose for writing poetry
  • Exploration of different formats of poetry and writing
  • Connecting your work to yourself and the bigger picture
  • Navigate the emotions of writing as well as failure
  • Publishing your work

Whether you’ve always dreamed of becoming a poet and simply didn’t know where to start or you are already a writer or poet wanting to switch things up, Tasmin’s honest and authentic class will help you unlock your creativity and courage and to step into the footsteps of Amanda Gorman and Nikita Gill.

After taking this class, you’ll be empowered to write and publish poetry that holds the power to change your own life as well as others.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tasmin Hansmann

Author, Storyteller, Environmentalist


Hi! My name is Tasmin Hansmann and I am an author, storyteller and environmentalist. So far, I have published my poetry collection The Anatomy of Waves, The Eloquence of Hurricanes and a novella called Welcome Home Dear Soul. I have also released the Azores Travel Journal.

I was born & raised in Germany but I left my old life behind and moved to the Azores Archipelago. Here, I decided to follow my passion and become a full-time writer and immerse myself into the topic of a better future. My daily life consists of (un)learning, creating and growing. And I am here to teach you about this path of creativity and sustainability.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Writing, especially writing poetry, has changed my life in ways I've never expected it to. It is like my soul finally found its voice. My name is Tasmin Hansmann and I'm a freelance writer and an author. My debut book, The Anatomy of Waves, is a poetry collection all about the healing of trauma, finding belonging, and my love for the Azores archipelago. My second book, Welcome Home Dear Soul, is a poetic encounter with death. I believe that poetry has the power to shift and move the world in the most subtle yet impactful ways. Most importantly, it has the power to change you. In this class, I will show you how to write poetry from finding inspiration, getting the right words onto the page, and in the end, being courageous and letting it go and letting it change you. By the end of this class, you will know if and how you want to write poetry, and how to let your heart guide you through the process. Let's get started. 2. How Poetry Can Change your Life: Welcome to your first lesson on how to write poetry that has an impact. Before we actually get into how to write this type of poetry, I first wanted to tap into the reasons why poetry is so powerful in the first place. Writing is pure liberation. It is the creation of art and a stream of consciousness that suddenly is filled with a melody, with emotion, with life. Often, pain becomes beauty while writing poetry. In my own experience, for example, when I was writing the poems that I then published at some point, I worked through a lot of trauma that I had at the time, and I was also working very strongly through the feelings and thoughts on belonging, because it was one of the biggest topics of my life at that point. I also wrote about the Azores archipelago, a place that I had just moved to, a place that was strange and foreign to me, but that slowly became my home. That whole process was not always easy, oh no. It was actually one of the hardest, but also one of the most rewarding times of my life. You can see this pain and also this growth very much reflected in my poetry. Because writing poetry helped me through those times, it gave me hope and stability. The poetry changed me, and in return, this change shaped the poems that eventually would become my book. By sharing your poetry, so by publishing it or just sharing it with potential readers, you are letting those emotions that you worked through go. You set yourself free, and you allow your readers and other people to not only connect with you and your words and get touched by it, but also to see their own emotions and experiences reflected in your art. Think of the wonderful Amanda Gorman, and how her poem, her voice, her perspective has reshaped all of our minds with just one single poem. Of course, you do not have to perform your poem in front of a nation or in front of the entire world even, but still, it is so crucial and important that you share your work unapologetically. That is why I urge you to participate in the class project. Your class project is to share a poem that you wrote that has an impact, either because it is so personal to you or because it talks about a topic that you think is important. Please remember, when you create this project and hit the publishing button and you get all nervous, this is a safe space for you and your art. To keep it that way, please feel free to also comment on your classmates' projects, read their art, and show them your love and support. I am very excited to read all of your poems, and to dive deeper into this class with you. In my next lesson, I'm going to talk about how to find purpose in your writing, how to find your why. 3. Finding Purpose in Each Poem: Poems need meaning. Even the most random, uninspiring poem comes from a place of purpose. Maybe their purpose is even to take away the glamour of poetry, to destroy the power of romanticizing everything. But it is the nature of a poem to hold power and to have a purpose. There is simply no way around it. It is on the author, the writer, on YOU to decide what that purpose looks like. If you just sit down and write in the flow, or if you sit down with a why in mind and write with intention. Like it says on the wall behind me, ''Write like it matters and it will.'' That is a quote from Libba Bray. But how do you find your why? This is, of course, a big question. But since you've clicked on this class, which has the title, how to write poetry that has an impact. I am pretty sure you already have an idea in mind about the direction in which you want your why, your purpose of poetry to go. If you're not certain yet, just look inside or look outside. Like A.P.J Abdul Kalam said, ''Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.'' Looking inside yourself for purpose can be a very hard task. Yet, when it comes to writing poetry, it often comes natural to us. Every emotion, every experience that you had can be transformed into poetry, and you know yourself the best. Therefore, you know which part of yourself you want to express in your art. You know which emotions need to be set free, and what feelings and experiences can be transformed into poetry, and one day even be shared. Those types of poems might be very personal, but they are very powerful as our emotional landscape is what unites us as human beings. Almost everyone has experienced some kind of love, grief, anger, or longing for something. By writing poetry that comes from your own experiences, you create a mirror others can see themselves in. Or if they don't relate with you, at least, they learn something about the reality of others. Just like that, the other direction in which you can look for purpose is on the outside. "All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo or they say something's wrong, let's change it for the better." Sonia Sanchez. It does not necessarily need to be about politics directly. If you, for example, write about the beauty of nature or maybe the destruction of nature, you always touch upon the topic of climate change and preservation, and therefore, are political if you originally intended or not. Since you will always be political, choose your purpose wisely. Ask yourself what you stand for and what message you want to carry out into the world. Then dive deep. Art is art and will always be free. But your art improves if you do not write blindly but with both eyes open. What I mean by that is that it pays off to do research. It does not need to be the scientific paper unless you enjoy those, of course. But it can be as simple as enjoying a diverse range of media that play with that topic. Or to listen to different stories that surround you in your day-to-day life. Using, again, the example of nature. If you research the topics of nature and you learn more about the plans and about the systems that are taking place in nature and our place in it. You will at some point stumble upon topics like environmentalism, preservation, justice of indigenous people, and all these kind of things. By diving deep into the topics, you're not only expanding your horizon, but you're also strengthening your purpose and therefore strengthening your writing as well. This is important. You do, of course, not have to focus on one single topic or one single emotion forever. You can expand, you can grow, you can change. It is your art after all. You are free to do whatever you please. Of course, you can also explore the diversity of poetry in the types of poetry that you can write. About that, I will talk to you in my next lesson. 4. Exploring the Diversity of Poetry: Like all writing, poetry can be incredibly diverse if you just look into it. In this lesson, I will introduce you to the different types of poetry that you can write and the different ways you can write. If you're a beginner, you can figure out what you might want to try. Even if you're already advanced in your poetry writing, maybe you'll find something new that you can still try out and make things fresh and new. Before we dive into the different styles of poetry, you should also consider some other factors that can influence your poetry massively. The first being language. If you speak more than one language, try to experiment with them. Maybe even mix your multiple languages together and create a poem that in more than one language. This is also not only limited to current spoken languages, but it can also extend to, for example, dead languages like Latin or Sanskrit, if you speak those. You can even go even a step further and maybe use a newer invented language like Esperanto or a fantasy language like Na'vi, Klingon, or Valerian. The most important thing is that you speak the language. You could even go ahead and write a poet in binary code if you're able to use that code and know the programming language, I clearly don't. But you could write a poem in that language if you want to. Next up is the way you write. Of course, you're not limited to only one way of writing poetry, but you only figure out your preferences by trying out different ways. You can write poetry the old classic way with a pen and paper. You could write in a modern way on your computer or a tablet or a phone. You can write only on special writing paper. Or you could write within a painted art piece. Or if you do spoken poetry, you could improvise and not right at all. Now let's talk about the different types of poetry. Every culture has their own traditions when it comes to poetry. Thanks to globalization and the internet, we have access to all of this knowledge so we can experiment whatever feels right for us. I will now not talk about every single style of poetry there is because the diversity is just incredible. But I'm going to introduce you to a few that I personally find interesting and that you might be interested in too. The first one that I just mentioned is spoken word. This one is all about performance and oral presentation. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip hop, storytelling, theater and more. Characteristics are rhyme, repetition, improvisation, wordplay, and they often refer to social justice, politics, etc. They are often found in so-called slumps where performers compete in front of an audience. Blackout poetry. You take a longer text that has already been written, for example, from a book and black out most of the texts until the remaining words form a poem. Haiku. This is an ancient form of Japanese poetry with just three lines or so-called tercet. The first and third lines have five syllables, whereas the second has seven, and they do not need to rhyme. Ballad. And old traditional European form of poetry originally invented in the Middle Ages. It typically has four lines and a rhyme scheme of ABAB or ABCB. It is usually performed with music and has very loose rules, so you can play around with it if you like. Free verse. It is very much an alliance of modern poetry because it doesn't really follow any rules in particular. It also does not necessarily need to rhyme. It is often found in the so-called Instagram poetry and is also my own personal favorite type of poetry to write. Pantun. This one is originally from Indonesia or Malaysia. I had different sources saying different things. This poem has four lines of equal length with the rhyme scheme, AAAA. The first two lines are usually a proverb or a riddle, and the other two lines are the meaning to that proverb or the answer to the riddle of the first two lines. Twin Cinema. This is a new form of poetry that was invented in Singapore in 2010. It is composed in two columns that can be read separately, like up and down, or together from side-to-side. Every time the poem becomes a different meaning, depending on how you read it, you can find more types of poetry in the PDF I have made for you that you can download down below. At the end of this lesson, I would like to quote Mary Oliver, who said, "poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it begins as did all the fine arts within the original wildness of the Earth." If none of the already existing styles of poetry resonate with you, try and go out there and create something new, something unique. Every single style of poetry was at some point invented by a writer, so you don't have the limit of what has already been invented. Poetry is art form and therefore, it is wild and unique, and you can create something that just suits you, your message and your poetry. To summarize this lesson, you can experiment with different languages if you speak them. This is not limited to current spoken human languages. Different writing and presentation methods, such as handwriting, Insta poetry, or slam poetry, offer a vast variety of expression. You can experiment with different types of poetry, such as free verse, ballads, blackout poetry, or Haikus. In my next lesson, I will talk about getting into the flow state of writing. 5. Enter the Flow State: Now, that you have explored the different types of poetry and you hopefully have found a topic, a writing style, and a way and form that you want to write your poetry, it is time to actually get down and right. Sometimes that's the hardest part. If you choose one of the more complex forms of poetry with a lot of rules, you might approach your writing in a more analytical way. But usually, as portrait is just art, it is created in a very free space, and therefore, it can only be created in the so-called flow state. The so-called flow state is a word from positive psychology, and it describes a state of mind where you are practically in the "zone", and I think most of you know what that is. It is basically a state of mind where you're completely focused, every perception of time just fades away into the background and you're completely immersed in whatever you are doing. But that is easier said than done. In my personal experience, my flow state is usually, not only triggered by something that I enjoy doing, but often by a specific thought that my brain just decides to run with it and I just need to explore that thought and get it out on paper, and also by certain places. Most of my poems were written on the exact same spot. That spot was not my desk, it was a specific spot on the lava cliffs on Pico Island. It was a lonely place, usually, no one was there, just me, the rocks and the ocean and sometimes a crab, and they're staring at the horizon. It always hit me, and I just had to write. For you, it might also be a place that helps you to get into the flow state. Nature is usually a great gateway for these types of flow bursts in your mind because nature has the beauty and the freedom that is required to write great poetry. James Gates Percival said, "The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirits and the waves dance to the music of its melodies and sparkle in its brightness." Of course, for you, a flow state might be triggered by something completely different, on that, you just need to go on a little exploration tour within your own life and see what works for you. If you're still stuck, you could try and trick and trigger your mind into the flow state by giving it challenges or prompts. For example, you could ask someone that you know or a stranger on the Internet to give you a word or a prompt, and you, therefore, need to write poetry based on that word or using that word or something like that. You could also, for example, join writing challenges. Find what motivates you and what inspires you and where those two overlap, that is where you will find the flow state. I hope you will find a way to find the flow state and actually sit down and write. In my next lesson, I will talk to you about what happens after the writing itself. 6. Let It Rest: A quick recap on what we have learned so far. It is important to find your why and to write poetry with purpose. Without the purpose, it will not have an impact neither on you or on the world around you. You can find your why by looking inside and outside of yourself. There are many different ways on how to write poetry. You can try different styles or writing techniques to figure out what suits you and your why best. To write, you should enter the creative flow state. Now, you have hopefully written upon, congratulations, we are so proud of you. But what happens next? The next step is no step at all, poetry should be given time to rest a little bit. Put that document somewhere in a folder very far in your computer, put that notebook away, do whatever you have to do. Best-case scenario, you completely forgot you ever wrote that poem, just put it aside and let it rest for a while because sometimes art needs time, it needs time for you to become the reader rather than the writer and to gain a new perspective on your work. This way, when you pick your poem up again, you review it with fresh eyes, you find flaws and ways to improve it, and to make it a masterpiece it was always meant to be, or you realize that it was perfect from the start and you feel a sense of pride and fulfillment. There is another reason why it makes sense to get a little bit of distance from your work and to let your poetry rest, and that is, that being bored makes you more creative. I don't just say this out of personal experience, I say this because there was actually a scientific study that proved that the more bored you are, the more creative then you become. That is why you have the best ideas while you're in the shower or taking a five-hour train ride to nowhere. If you want to read the full study, you will find the link to that in my PDF in the resources. Give yourself time, poetry is never in a rush. 7. Failure is a Part of the Process: "There is a reason poets often say, 'Poetry saved my life,' for often, the blank page is the only one listening to the soul's suffering, the only one registering the story completely, the only one receiving all softly and without condemnation." Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Poetry is often something very personal because even if you don't write about your own emotions and experiences, you usually write about something that is near and dear to your heart. That is why failure is so hard to process. We often criticize ourselves the hardest and often do not judge our own work fairly. If you review your poem from last month on a bad day, you might find it boring or horrible. That is why you should review your poems more than once and never ever take the judgment of yourself on a bad mental health day. You're never the worst that you see yourself as. You might not also be the best, but you should never settle for the worst, and you can always improve. If you have a bad mental health day, don't check in on your poetry, just leave it there and look at it another day. If you're truly unhappy with your poem, you can always improve it or just put it to the side. Never, ever throw a poem in the trash where you cannot retrieve it from. That's a no-no. Even if you have come to the conclusion that this poem is just not it, or you have published something and it didn't go very well, or you have gotten some negative feedback from readers, please remember that this is not the end. Failure is a massive part of the process of every single artist, and especially writer out there. I used to hate the phrase that failure makes you grow, because, here's a little story time, I used to apply, not with my poetry, with novels to literary agencies and publishers, and doing that is very hard if you don't know anyone in the business. I never even got a reply, and that completely broke my writer spirit for quite a while. I was so close to giving up, and everyone who told me that I should just learn from my failure just didn't get it and it just made me angry. Now, I understand it better. I might never know why exactly those literary agencies and publishers never reached out to me again or why I was never accepted, but it led me grow my confidence. This failure, which, believe we, every single author, writer, and poet has to go through, made me reflect a lot on my work, and therefore, I grew a certain confidence in it because I looked at it and I looked at it again and again and I really liked what I did. At some point, I just decided to go and self-publish my own poetry because I just knew it was good enough. Just because you encounter failure on your path of writing or in your writing career, that does not mean it is the end of the road. It is an obstacle, a painful one. Sure. Failure is never comfortable. It might feel like the end or like giving up, and that's okay. But only if you do not move on from this place in your life, it will actually be the end. Giving up is a choice. No one else makes that choice for you but yourself, and you clicked on this video or in this Skillshare class to write to have an impact, so get up, and go out there and write. Accept failure as this teacher that you hate, that you dislike, that makes you uncomfortable but that will always make you grow. Now, please continue to write. In my next lesson, we'll talk about how to share this writing with the world. 8. Share Your Work: "A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him Dylan Thomas. We have talked about why and how to write poetry and how to deal with failure. Now it is time to talk about courage. If your poetry is supposed to have any impact at all, you first of all need to set it free and that usually means to share it with the world and to publish it. You can start by participating in the class project down below. Especially if you are usually more on the shy side, this is a safe space for you and you can make your first step towards sharing your work with the world right there. If you want to go a step further, try publishing some of your poems in a magazine. There are many ways to achieve this. You can contact magazines directly, you can search for specific poetry publications, or try to apply via submittable. Or if you're like me, you end up publishing your poetry in your own first poetry collection. Whatever path you choose, sharing your work, even if that means just sharing it with a few people in your private life or sharing it here in your class project allows your poetry to have an impact both on yourself and the world. If you never publish your work, there is no reader and therefore there is no impact. It is that simple. Of course, a poem you wrote can move you or help you through some emotions and feelings. But only when you allow it to be free to let go, the impact truly unfolds. There is no pressure to share every single poem you ever wrote. You can also just write for yourself, of course. But if you want to have an impact, you need to raise your voice. The one that you have been crafting and perfecting over the course of this class and throughout your entire life, and find the courage to actually share what you have to say. This is the most important step to let the reader in, to make it accessible for others, to allow them to feel the impact of the words, and in return also have an impact on you, the writer. Don't forget that; your voice is unique, your voice is amazing. Find that courage. If you want to have an impact, you need to raise your voice. You need to be loud and accessible. 9. Final Thoughts: Thank you for participating in my class, how to write poetry that has an impact. I hope you enjoyed watching and I'm excited to read your poetry in the class project. Remember the lessons from this class while moving forward in your writing, find your why either inside or outside of yourself, and remind yourself to write with intention and purpose. Explore the many different ways on how to write poetry, find out what serves you and your message best. Enter the creative flow state to write, let your work rest for a while and improve it later. Never judge your writing on a bad day. Failure is a part of the process and giving up is a choice. Be courageous and share your poetry by publishing it, for example, in the class project and magazines or in a poetry collection. Thank you again for being a part of my class. I'm Tasmin Hansmann. You can find my work online, on my website, on my Instagram. Of course, if you like, you can check out my work, my writing in my poetry collection, the Anatomy Of Waves and my second book, Welcome Home Dear Soul. Finally, I would like to end this class with one final quote by the wonderful Alice Walker. "Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness." Now it is on you.