In this poem form, the poet walks the reader through a process, teaching them how to do something new and entertaining them along the way. The How to Poem is known as a modern poetic form sometimes used in classrooms. However, William Carlos Williams’ (1883-1963) poem, Tract, in which he guides the townspeople on how to perform a funeral, could be considered a How-To poem.
You can guide your readers on how to find a husband, how to race a turtle, how to share an ice cream cone, how to clean up the ocean, how to survive cancer or you could be abstract with instructions on how to dissolve in the rain, how to eat the planets, or how to be a storm.
How to Be a Star is my attempt at a modern How-to poem (I went with an abstract theme and chose to write it in rhyme).
Here are the rules:
1. Think of a subject. Your poem can be fun, serious, or helpful.
2. Your poem can rhyme but it doesn’t have to.
4. Chose the type of stanza you want to use. A good length is at least two stanzas but no longer than six stanzas. It’s also fun to write a numbered How-To poem (i.e., How to Flirt in Six Easy Steps).
5. Speak to the reader as if they do not understand the process. Pay attention to detail…remember the reader is learning from your instruction.
6. Use creative language throughout and end with a bang (a conclusion, a thoughtful or funny message, a twist, etc.)
Now, it’s your turn! I hope you’ll write a How-To poem and share it (or a link to it) in the comments below. I love comments—I read every one!
Don’t forget to join the blog and pop in on the next post: where we will have fun with Found poems (no, it isn’t cheating!).