Writing a poem about a person can be a wonderful way to show that you care about and value them. An ode is a poem that pays tribute to a person, thing, place, or event. However, there are loads of other forms, structures, and conventions that you could use when you’re writing your poem.
If you’re here reading this, that means you’re thinking about writing someone a lovely poem. But no matter if it’s for a friend, a relative, or someone you admire, writing poetry about a person can be quite daunting at first.
Luckily, we’re here to help! In this Twinkl guide, you can learn about the kinds of structures and forms that poets use when writing about someone. We’ll also show you some ways that you can teach your pupils about poetry so that they can have a go at writing their poems about a person.
What is Poetry?
But before we get going, we need to nail down what poetry is!
Poetry can be quite tricky to define. The best way to describe it is as a kind of literature where the writer uses language, structure, rhythm, and sounds carefully to have a specific effect. This effect could be a meaning or idea that the writer wants to convey. It could even be an emotion that they want the reader to feel. Poetry has been around for a long time and exists in virtually every culture and in many different forms.
A poem can be about pretty much anything, even a specific person. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a family member, or someone you admire. Writing someone a poem is a lovely way to write down your feelings about them on paper. Even if, like me, you’re not destined to be the next Poet Laureate, your recipient will still love reading your poem and appreciate the effort that went into it.
How do you write a poem about someone?
So now that we’re feeling confident about what poetry is, we’ve arrived at the hardest bit of writing a poem about a person: knowing where to begin!
Starting a poem is always daunting, even more so when writing for a specific person. If it’s someone you admire or care about, you’ll no doubt want to make it the best poem possible. Luckily, we’ve got some useful pointers for writing poetry about a person:
- Settling on a structure:
Structure is an essential part of poetry writing. Even if you decide not to settle for a strict one, it’s still important to consider when writing a poem about a person.
These are just a few of the poetic forms that you or your learners could use to write a poem about someone:
An ode is a long, complex poem praising a person, event, object, or place. They originated in Ancient Greece and are made up of three distinct parts:
- The strophe: The opening section of the poem.
- The antistrophe: A reply to the strophe which explores an opposite idea.
- The epode is the conclusion that brings the strophe and the antistrophe together.
These poems are tricky to write but great if you want to ‘wow’ the person you’re writing them to.
The name sonnet comes from the Italian word ‘sonetto,’ which means “little song.” They’re 14 lines long and are written in a rhyme scheme called the iambic pentameter. William Shakespeare is best known for this type of poem, and they’re a great choice if you want to write a short but sweet ballad about a person.
Acrostic poetry is a good choice for anyone looking for an easier structure. In acrostic poetry, the first letter of each line spells out a word or phrase in the left-side column. This is great if you want to write a thoughtful poem that spells out a person’s name. It’s also great for younger children or pupils who wish to write a poem about someone but aren’t as confident in their writing skills.
If none of these forms appeal to you, you can always break convention and write a free-form poem about a person. The beauty of free form is that there are no strict rules to follow. Therefore, it can be a great choice
- Think about the person you’re writing it for:
Now that we’ve got the structure issue out of the way let’s consider to whom your poem is addressed. This is, in many ways, the most important step in the poem-writing process!
When writing a poem about a person, having that person in your mind is a good idea. So make sure you think carefully about the following:
- Who the person is: Make sure you carefully consider their relationship with the person you’re writing for. Is it a friend, a relative, a sibling, or even someone you admire? Thinking about who they are will help you to write a poem that resonates with them. You could also include some memories and experiences that you shared with them in your poem.
- What kind of a person they are: As you’re writing your poem about a person, try to paint a picture of them using words. Think about what kind of personality they have, what some of their best qualities are, and why you like or appreciate them. You could even include some lovely similes or metaphors that describe them!
- What sorts of things they enjoy: Not only will this show how well you know them, but it’s also a great opportunity to add some nice imagery that you think they’ll enjoy!
- Think about what you want to say in your poem:
Last but not least, think about the message that you want to communicate through your poem. For example, you or your learners might want to write a poem to:
- Let someone know what a good friend you think they are.
- Tell someone that you admire them.
- Tell someone that you’re proud of what they have achieved.
- Show your appreciation towards someone.
No matter what you want to say, making sure that your chosen reader will be able to understand is crucial. That’s why it’s worth reading your poem once you’ve finished writing. Imagine you’re that person and think about how they would feel while reading it.
If you or your learners are confident enough in their writing abilities or want a second pair of eyes, then a good idea might be to let someone else proofread your poem about a person before you send it.