Nature offers a world of inspiration for creative writers; that’s no surprise. But vividly capturing the essence of nature in your poetry can be elusive and frustrating. Here are some great tips for writing poems about nature that will help you stand out when you’re making submissions.
5 Techniques For Writing Better Nature Poetry
Avoid the expected. You know—Rain is sad, sunshine is happy, green grass means renewal, and rivers represent change and the passing of time. Instead, use all of your senses (not just sight) and experience nature in a new way. How does the forest sound? What scent is the air at the mountaintop? As a writer, it’s your job to present aspects and interpretations of the natural world that readers haven’t experienced before.
Be prepared. Like a good scout, make sure you have everything you need to work in the great outdoors. Dress for the terrain and the weather—having snacks and water is a good idea too. Bring your journal and a pen or pencil. Nature is vast, so don’t try to summarize everything at once. Focus on one aspect of your environment. Then, when you feel inspired, write; and don’t edit your first impressions.
Personify with awareness. There’s nothing wrong with pinning human attributes on nonhuman elements of the natural world. But if you’re going to anthropomorphize nature in your poems, be sure your comparisons are spot-on. Personification has to work perfectly to work at all.
Don’t ignore the effects of human involvement. These days, there are few spots on the globe that people haven’t visited, no matter how remote. Don’t be afraid of acknowledging the connections, differences, and conundrums that arise in the relationship between humans and the earth. And be sure to “take only memories [and notes!], leave nothing but footprints.”
Be aware of your message. Many poetry teachers talk about the importance of not pushing a specific message—meaning, don’t write a poem intending to teach something in a moralizing way to your reader. Better to let your poem teach you about yourself as you work on it. Your nature poem might have a message (to protect the environment? to respect nature?), but just be careful that you’re not preachy or condescending.
If You Want To Get Your Nature Poetry Published…
There are two things you must do to get your nature poetry published in reputable literary journals or to publish a poetry collection. First: Write great poetry. Get outside and discover what the natural world has to offer. Read noteworthy poems—lots of them. Take classes. Spend time talking, living, and breathing poems. Make poetry your lifestyle choice. If you’re writing great nature poems, you should be able to get your work published.
The second thing you must do is submit your nature poems regularly for publication. The best poem in the world won’t make an impact if it’s never read. So develop a rigorous and regular submission strategy if you want to get results. If you would rather focus your time and attention entirely on writing, you can always leave the submission work to the experts at Writer’s Relief.
Photo by Zieg3rman