Often when poetry is written, the idea for a poem will come before the idea to write a poem. For example, a person might experience something and then realize that the experience might be communicated as a poem. In these situations, the experience occurred without a conscious thought to writing poetry about it.
In other situations though, a person may be attempting to think of poetry ideas. For example, a person may be trying to write a large number of poems, and may need to think of ideas for them. In these situations, the person may have the idea of writing poetry in their mind as they experience different things.
In these types of situations, where a person is consciously searching for poetry ideas, one method is to think of significant topics and attempt to write poetry about them. One limitation to this though is that significant topics may be difficult to think of directly.
Another method to find ideas for poetry is to think of something simple and see what it inspires. One way a person can do this, is simply to look around the area where they are, and see if anything can start a list or path of thoughts. The end result that leads to the poem, which may take many steps from the original idea, might not directly reference the original simple thought (although it might), but it can be inspired by it. Often poems that start this way can have just as much meaning as a poem that started with a significant topic. Since the starting point is a simple idea, the start of the poem may be easier than attempting to start a poem with a significant topic.
In this example, the simple something are buttons. Buttons, items intended to hold two pieces of cloth together, although in a sense very simple, can lead to a wide variety of poetry ideas. The ideas that come about may not directly reference buttons, but can be inspired by them. The ideas can often be significant. Some poetry starting points that can come from considering buttons include:
- Materials: Buttons are made of a variety of materials such as wood, plastic and metal. This train of thought might inspire the poet to write about sources such as trees, oil and mountains. It might inspire the poet to write about industrialization. It could inspire the idea of comparing manmade and natural materials.
- Simplicity: Buttons are a very simple thing. This idea can lead to a poem that examines simple things or generally simplicity. It could though lead a poet to focus on the opposite idea and write a poem about complex things.
- Gender: Buttons in some ways express gender. If male and female clothes are examined, differences in the buttons can be often be seen. Examples might include what side the buttons are on, their size, their color, their material, and their level of prominence. Noticing this might lead a poet to use buttons as the start of a poem that examines gender.
- Ambiguity: Before this list started, a clarification of the meaning of buttons was given as “items intended to hold two pieces of cloth together”. If this clarification was not provided there may have been confusion as to what a button was: an item intended to hold two pieces of cloth together or a switch that completes an electric circuit or something worn on a pin or some other type of meaning. This ambiguity about what a button is can lead to poetry ideas. For example, a poet could write about one of the other types of meanings. A poet also could write a poem that has more than one meaning in it. Additionally, a poet could write about ambiguity in general.
- Fastening: Buttons fasten. Buttons hold together, they unite and they keep closed. Each of these ideas about keeping things together can lead to metaphors, both positive and negative, that can lead to a starting point for a poem.
The list above includes five poetry starting points that can come from considering buttons. There are many more.
The idea of finding something simple and using it as the basis for poetry is one that can often lead to variety of poems that can often have profound meanings.
Please feel free to use any of these ideas as a starting point for a poem that starts with the idea of buttons. Also please consider using this technique in general as a way to start poems.