How not to write a love poem

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, who can actually afford to buy their sweetheart a private jet ride to romantic Paris?

Probably not you. As starving college students, we can barely buy our week’s supply of Top Ramen and Natty Light, let alone indulgent gifts for a commercial holiday.

Thinking of purchasing an overpriced box of waxy chocolates or a giant stuffed gorilla holding a plush heart? Don’t. Nothing says “last minute” like cliché and novelty gifts.

Give your honey a gift from the heart instead. More specifically, write a classic love poem. It can be done! Really! But it can also be done oh-so-wrong. Here are a few tips on how not to write a love poem:

1. Don’t compare your lover to chocolate.

Don’t talk about him/her melting in your mouth. Don’t talk about unwrapping them. Don’t make some bad pun about Hershey’s Kisses. In other words, just don’t. It’s creepy. And contrary to popular belief, not everyone likes chocolate.

2. We already know that roses are red and that many violets are, in fact, blue.

Come on, you have to at least pretend like you tried. Rhyming is not necessary in poetry. In fact, rhyming can limit what you really want to (and should) say.

3. Limit your beautiful adjectives and lovely adverbs.

Bad poets seem to have an endless supply of adjectives and adverbs that they use at every possible chance. I am not trying to say that you should never use adjectives or adverbs, but don’t use them lazily. Treat every word in the poem as essential. If it’s not essential, it shouldn’t be included.

4. It doesn’t need to be a novel.

Don’t put your darling to sleep. Long poems don’t always translate into good poems. You may think you have a lot to say — and maybe you do — but get at the heart (pun somewhat intended) of what you want to say. Sometimes the simplest things are the most meaningful.

5. Plagiarism is probably not the best idea.

Your loved one will probably recognize that your “original” poem is in fact just the lyrics to John Mayer’s “Your Body is a Wonderland.” And if you’re going to plagiarize, at least plagiarize someone with talent, like Leonard Cohen or Neil Young.

6. Don’t write it in three minutes.

Sometimes you’ll be instantly inspired. And sometimes that inspiration will turn into an outstanding poem. But … don’t count on it. You can’t be a genius all of the time. Give your poem the thought and time it deserves.

Roses are red, violets are blue, and there you have it — six tips on what not to do. Now that you are educated, grab your Bic pen and Moleskine notebook and start composing your original (and good) love poem for your Valentine. Good luck, my budding poets!

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