Nature as Muse

6 Tips to Write Nature Poetry

Harley Bell

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Drawn by Harley Bell

Writing poetry can be like a meditation. Especially when writing about nature in nature. It is a wonderous feeling to compose a poem while walking through a forest. There is beauty in the way the gaze can soften, upon ferns and fertile things. I love listening to the way that the world comes alive when it encounters sincere and softly spoken words.

I love packing a bag with notebooks and snacks. Then hiking until the woods become loud and my mind becomes quiet. I do my best writing in the wild places, where this is no human noise to distract me. Poetry can be a reminder to slow down and observe the subtle sounds of the environment.

If you’re looking to write nature poetry, here are some tips and techniques to get you started.

Observe the World Around You

The first step to writing nature poetry is simple, spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods, even if they are only sojourns. Sit by a river and listen. Notice the contours of the rocks. Climb a hill and watch the sunset, how does the light influence your thoughts? Carry a notebook and record the things that strike you. Colours, insects, sounds, wings and creatures.

Bring a book with you. I recommend Mary Oliver. Read the book out loud. It can help the words come alive. If you feel shy, find a quiet place off the path and read to the leaves. I promise they are good listeners.

If you want to deepen into the softness, try walking slowly and silently for 10 minutes. Feel the weight of each footstep. Keep an open eye for nooks in the hollows of tree roots. Find a place where you want to burrow, then write for 5 minutes. Write about the living things.

Use Sensory Detail

One of the keys to writing nature poetry is to use sensory detail. Like the smells, sounds and textures of the natural world around you.

This is a good exercise. Try using anaphora (the repetition of a phrase at the beginning of a stanza) to get into the sensory rhythm of it.
Write a 9 line poem using these as the openings for each line:
I see…
I see…
I see…
I hear…
I hear…
I hear…
I feel……

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Harley Bell

I write about writing, creativity and business. I'm currently working on a poetry book, titled Wild Altar. www.harleybellwriter.com