Writing Extraordinary Poems: Create Poetry That Sets You Apart | Nicole Mae | Skillshare

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Writing Extraordinary Poems: Create Poetry That Sets You Apart

teacher avatar Nicole Mae, Poet and Filmmaker

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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.

      The Pull


    • 3.

      Unique Ways to Get Started Writing


    • 4.

      Determining Your Skill Level


    • 5.

      Setting Yourself Apart


    • 6.

      Tackling Writer's Block


    • 7.

      Class Project


    • 8.

      Closing Notes


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About This Class

Do you have an itch to elevate your poetry? Whether you’ve just begun your writing journey, feel stuck in it, or need new avenues to branch out in, this class is for you!

The lessons we'll be exploring:

-   How to discover the substance of your poetry

-   How to inspire writing through unique methods

-   How to determine your skill level

-   How to set yourself apart from other poets

-   How to tackle writer's block

At the end of this class, students will have the tools to create advanced poetry and be able to stretch outside their writing-comfort-zone.

Meet Your Teacher

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Nicole Mae

Poet and Filmmaker


Nicole Mae (they/she) is a poet and filmmaker from Treaty Four, Canada.

Currently, they have two poetry books published and are in the works of releasing a third. They've hosted writing workshops with Indigo Books & Music, The Penny University, Regina Public Library, Prairie Valley School Division, and Saskatchewan's Writer Guild.

Nicole has an archive of video art on their YouTube channel and in select art galleries. You can find collaborative works with CBC News and Globe Theatre as well.

Whether it's through words or videos, Nicole's works reflect strong themes of nostalgia, longing, and identity.

See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Intro: Poetry is such an important form of writing. It confronts our feelings, dissects the human experience, asks all the right questions and gives diversity to voice. My name is Nicole May, and I'm a writer and filmmaker from Treaty for Canada. At the core of all my creative expression is poetry. I currently have two poetry books published and am working on releasing my third. I've hosted a variety of poetry workshops over the last few years and have had my poems featured in various short films. My passion and love for poetry is expansive. And so today, I'm really excited to help you with your own journey. Whether you're new to poetry, feel stuck in it, or are just looking for new avenues to branch out into. This class is for you. It has been made accessible for all types of skill levels so long as you're looking to elevate your poetry. Together, we'll be exploring how to discover the substance of your poetry, how to inspire writing through unique methods, how to set yourself apart from other poets and how to tackle writer's block. I should mention these skills are transferable outside of poetry, too. You can use them within other genres of writing, your academic works or workplace pieces. In general, by the end of the class, you'll have a new approach to putting the pen to paper. With that said, let's begin our first lesson. 2. The Pull: For our first lesson today, we're going to be narrowing down the substance of your poetry going forward. I'm going to be calling this the pole. The pole is about why you're drawn to poetry, the inner pole towards it. Some examples of the pole would be an exploration of identity. Poetry is a great way to express queerness, disability, race, and all other identity points, a form of therapy. There could be memories from childhood or traumatic experiences that need to be healed from. And poetry is a very safe place to do that. An expression of love. Perhaps you have a sweetheart in your life and there's emotions bubbling up through story. But on the other hand, the pole can be something a lot more simpler than that. Poetry doesn't have to be so serious. And it could be an observation of nature just about the city sounds or trees or strangers around you in case any of these examples of the pole resonated with you, I will quickly recap them. The pole can be an exploration of identity, a form of therapy and expression of love, and an observation of nature. Because we'll be reflecting on and writing our own poem today is important to figure out what the pole means for you. If it's one of these four, that is a great place to start. But if you think you're drawn to poetry for a different reason, take some time right now to really sit with yourself and think about the story that wants to be told. Once you got it, we'll start our next lesson. 3. Unique Ways to Get Started Writing: Now that you've discovered the pole of your poetry, you'll want to get that pen to paper. For some of you, this will come quite naturally and you can just get started. But for others, if beginning your poem feels quite daunting, I have a list of unique ways to get started. So first off, listen to some of your favorite songs and pay attention to the lyrics. Are there any words or terms that particularly strike you? How do they relate to the pole? You can use this to create the first sentence of your poem. You can also create a blackout poem. Blackout poetry is the process of taking pre-existing text, whether that's a page from a book or a magazine or newspaper, and then finding a poem within it, you can use a marker to blackout any of the excess words and you'll be left with your own piece. Blackout poetry is one of my personal favorite forms of poetry. I find it's very engaging and really gets me in the creative headspace. Another way you can get started in writing is to look up prompts. You can find them across all social media platforms. Personally, I like to search up writing prompts in the Instagram search bar. That being said, you are on the Internet right now listening to this class. So I will provide for writing prompts right now. Snail, grandma's cooking, pillow, and a lost item. Now, if you like the idea of writing prompts, but generally want to create poetry from a place disconnected from the Internet. I would recommend finding a pocket dictionary. They are quite cheap if you want to buy them, but oftentimes libraries have them as well. You can take this dictionary and flip through it randomly, whatever word your finger lands on, use that as your writing prompt as well. If you're a more visual person, you can look at photography. This could either be through a photo album and you can create a poem based on a memory. Or you can look at strangers photography and fabricate a story to it. Journaling is another great way to get started writing too. Sometimes our brain is just stuffed up with everyday things or situational messiness. Journaling about whatever's going on in your life is not only a great way to clear your head, but it's also a way to actually get started writing. When you have a final entry, you can go through it and find different sentences to create into a poem. Lastly, try experimenting with Haiku. The format of haiku is quite simple. You need to create three lines where the first one has five syllables, the second has seven and the third has five. Traditionally, haiku is about depicting nature. But for the purpose of creativity, you can use this format for whatever the pole is for you, it can be challenging to create a story from only 17 syllables, but I also find that it is less daunting because there just simply less words to be written. Now, I'm going to recap this list for you as well. Some unique ways to get started in writing are by observing the lyrics of your favorite songs, experimenting with blackout poetry, searching for prompts on the Internet, flipping through a dictionary to find prompts reflecting on photography, dissecting journal pages, and playing with haiku with this list in mind, as well as the poll from the previous lesson, I'd love for you to write your own poem. Try not to worry about it being messy and don't get hung up on the details. We have two more lessons to go. And in those we'll be refining whatever you right at the end of all of these lessons is when you'll be submitting. So just start off by writing from your heart. Good luck 4. Determining Your Skill Level: The best way to determine your skill level is by reading other people's poetry. You may have heard the infamous quote from Stephen King. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things. Above all, others. Read a lot and write a lot. When you read other people's poetry, you're able to find cliches, the words and phrases that are overdone. For example, in my own readings of modern poetry, I've noticed an oversaturation of metaphors relating the human body to flowers and plants. I've also noticed lovers being compared to the moon quite a lot. When finding these sorts of cliches, you want to identify if they're in your own works as well. If they are, that's perfectly alright. It just might be worth picking up with the source and exploring different, more unique ways of explaining your topic. On the flip side, you'll want to note poems that blow you away, that create a physical reaction inside of you and feel like they've fallen into your life at the most perfect time. Poems like that are special and it's important to notice the themes and perspectives you're gravitating towards. An easy way to keep track of this is by flagging your favorite poems in a book with sticky notes, or by taking pictures of them while observing these outstanding poems, you'll want to think about your own. Do they have a natural place amongst them? Could you see your poems being published in the same book if you'd likely have a high skill level and a clear understanding of your writing style. If not, you now have the opportunity to find out what's disconnected from your poems. You can figure out what's missing in order to elevate your poetry. Some people prefer to read individual poems online, while others prefer to read them within books. I personally am quite a book lover, and so in case you are as well, I will recommend three to start with chasers of the light by Tyler not Gregson, exhibitionist by Molly cross blah shard. And I'll fly away by Rudy Francisco. So to put it simply, in order to figure out your skill level, you need to be reading a lot. Be mindful of cliches in your writing and try to spot similarities to your favorite poem. This is a long-term practice to your writing journey. So make sure to have fun with it. I'll see you in the next lesson. 5. Setting Yourself Apart: Now that we've discussed the importance of reading other people's writing, we can now look at how to set ourselves apart. The go-to question you're going to want to be asking yourself is what has lacked in your readings that only you possess meaning? What are the stories only you can tell, the phrases only you have thought of. I'll give you an example about setting yourself apart in storytelling. Let's say while reading through other people's poems, you've gravitated towards themes of childhood. You've read all sorts of poems for the poetry call their experiences as a seven-year-old, a 10-year-old, and so on. It's as if they're back in their adolescent body is experiencing life. But you notice no one has written about childhood through the perspective of a memory, you think about what it means to look back on your life, not as a participant, but as a witness. There is grief and longing and a sense of wanting to talk to your adolescent self who is so naive. You've written through that perspective though. That would be the gap, that would be what sets you apart. An example of setting yourself apart through phrasing would be, you've loved reading about the ocean and you've noticed people describing it as an endless blue or sapphire ripples. But you think back to the last time you were at the beach. And remember looking at the water with a thought of the ocean looks like it's attending the first day of school. Hesitant and eager. What a unique way to look at something as universal as water. Sort of offbeat phrasing will set you apart to go a step further in this process, you'll want to get feedback from other people. You could start off by sharing a poem with a friend or a peer. Then my posting some online to get strangers feedback. If you're feeling especially bold, you could attend a spoken word poetry event and test out the waters there, regardless of who is giving the feedback, it is always helpful to have a second set of ears or eyes on your work. I personally think it's one of the best ways to figure out what people like and see what sort of poems resonate with people. When I share my poems to others, I like to ask questions like what lines stood out to you most? And was there anything that sounded choppy to you? This might be scary at first. In these moments, it's important to put your ego aside and take people's opinions with grace. Ultimately, feedback is there to advance your craft, not hurt your feelings will dive a little bit deeper into how our emotions can intertwine with our writing in the next lesson. But for now, I'll recap this one. In order to set yourself apart, you'll want to identify which experiences are unique to you. How to include offbeat phrasing, and what kind of feedback you'd like to receive from others to make that last step easy for you, I'll be providing feedback when it comes time to submitting your class project. Just keep that in mind when writing your poem today. I'll see you in the next lesson. 6. Tackling Writer's Block: Important to discuss riders block. You're going to have moments where you just feel off. You want to write poetry, but you can't really get it going, or you're having a difficult time fine tuning what's already there. It's daunting and discouraging, and in these moments of riders block, we need to look inwards. After years of writing poetry myself and workshopping with every skill level, I've observed that riders block comes from two specific things, exhaustion and insecurity. On the side of exhaustion, you'll notice the effects of writer's block when life gets too cluttered, when you're overworked and overtired. Creativity comes through the absence of thoughts, not the multitude of them. It might be a good idea to get ahead on your work, sort through those responsibilities, and catch up on errands or sleep. Do your best to get to a place where your brain isn't running around. Allow what I call thinking time. Tim dedicated to nothing but free flowing thought. Creativity will find its way to you. On the side of insecurity, you'll really feel the effects of writer's block when you overthink your craft. Poetry really exposes the soul. Perhaps you're worried about the emotions and memories that will be popping up. Common examples of this would be your writing and you start to think about who's going to read your poem. Now, you start to feel the pressures of being perceived and perhaps you really don't want people to know these deepest parts of you. Some people are afraid of failure or success and what's going to happen to their poems once they're written. Others self criticize too much. Sometimes while writing, you'll start to feel retraumatized. Whatever the case, there are so many unconscious beliefs and thoughts that will resist our hand to the paper. If you find yourself experiencing writer's block, it is important to take a step back. Look inwards at the insecurities and exhaustions in your life. Ultimately, you want to try and step outside of them. Paste yourself, forgive yourself, and just try to not over complicate the writing process. You got this. Now let's discuss the class project. 7. Class Project: For today's class project, you'll be submitting a poem that you want to receive feedback on as discussed in the lesson, setting yourself apart, you'll want to start off by reading other people's poetry. Visit your local bookstore or library, or even read some poems online if that's more accessible to you. After doing so, reflect on your own works. Have you been including any cliches? Is there anything particularly unique about your writing compared to what you've read? Keep this in mind when submitting your poem today, I'll be providing feedback on this. I think feedback is an essential part of advancing one's poetry. I love seeking it out with my own works. And so today's class project is help you with that. A couple of tips to help complete your class project would be referred back to the lesson. Unique ways to get started when beginning your poem. And have a central theme in mind for the substance of your poetry. Once your poem is written, submitted to the project gallery, include a few sentences describing what your poem is about, as well as the different methods you used to create it. Good luck. I'm excited to see what you create 8. Closing Notes: Congratulations. You have made it to the end of the class. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, learn, and discuss poetry with me. Now, you should have an understanding of what pulls you into poetry, unique ways to get started writing, how to set yourself apart, and how to deal with writer's block if it comes up. Above all else, I'd love for your main takeaway to be a new sense of confidence and inspiration going forth into your poetry journey. I know I feel that every time I involve myself in the writer community. With that said, get involved and submit a poem to the project gallery. I'm excited to see what you've written today. If you are wanting to stay up to date with me, make sure to follow me here on Skillshare as well as on social media. You can go to my website, www.peachpies.com to find my accounts as well as the projects and poetry books I've created. Thanks again, and I will talk to you later. Bye.