In this post, we’ll show you how to have a Christmas poetry write-along.
Are you in the mood for some festive poetry? We’ll provide some examples and writing inspiration. All you need to do is flex those writing muscles!
Christmas Poetry Write-Along
So many Christmas poems have already been written, but can there ever be enough? This holiday is such an important event, there’s always room for more! Let’s look at some important themes for these poems, and then we’ll try out some ideas for writing.
The Ingredients Of A Christmas Poem
Christmas is not just a holiday like any other. This season conjures up an entire mood. Everybody gets a bit nostalgic and sentimental. Then there are the special foods, the smells, the songs, the decorations, and the lights – and let’s not forget the gifts. It’s a multi-sensory experience!
It’s also a time when people tend to travel a lot. Children visit their parents. Friends stop by. People reminisce about the good old days. With that many people in one place, and that many emotions, the possibilities for conflict abound.
People all over the world celebrate Christmas, and not even on the same day! It varies according to their culture. Geography also plays a great role. Not everybody dreams of a white Christmas with snow and reindeer. Every country creates its traditions reflecting its climate and culture. That provides a lot to write about!
You can explore the way you react to all the traditions and emotions. Do you accept them? Or do you go against them? Has your family created a special tradition? Conventional as Christmas may be, there’s still a lot of wiggle room for your imagination.
6 Ways To Write Alongside The Poets
To get us writing, let’s look at examples from the Poetry Foundation’s online collection of Christmas poems. Please browse freely to see what inspired other poets. You’ll find cherished classics as well as modern examples.
Think about what styles and themes appeal to you. If you’d like more inspiration, then read on to find 6 ways to write alongside these published poets.
The poems used as examples are all from the Poetry Foundation’s collection of Christmas poems.
1. All It Takes Is The First Line
Just go through the poems and choose one with an interesting beginning. Copy that first line, but don’t read on.
How about Walter de la Mare’s Mistletoe? The first line is ‘Sitting under the mistletoe.’ One reference to this particular plant and we already know it’s Christmas. Anything can happen under the mistletoe.
Here’s my example:
Sitting under the mistletoe
I knew neither friend nor foe…
I bet you can imagine how this goes on, can’t you?
2. Make Ends Meet
Now we make this a bit more challenging. Again, choose a poem with a great first line. Then look at the last line. Copy those two lines. It’s up to you to make up the middle part. How will you make the beginning meet the given end? Can you come up with a different storyline than the original poem?
3. Jigsaw Puzzle
Here’s a real challenge. We take the first lines of a few poems of your choice and string them one after the other. Here’s what I came up with (if you’d like to know the original poem just follow the link). Note that I shortened the original lines when I needed to.
Example: ’Twas the night before Christmas, […]
My mother was not impressed with her beauty;
Three Kings came riding from far away,
The kings they came from out the south,
[…] Crowding thoughts around me wake,
Is that a poem? Not at all. But it’s a starting point. We have the anticipation of Christmas, an unsatisfied mother, a fear of crowds, and royal visitors. All of this is sowing the seeds of conflict! The rest is up to you.
4. Paraphrase A Poem
When you paraphrase a poem, you can go word by word, or even line by line. Think about the meaning, and then try to say it in your own words. Here’s the first stanza of Mary Jo Salter’s Advent:
‘Wind whistling, as it does
in winter, and I think
nothing of it until […]’
Paraphrasing, you could end up with something like this:
Icy air howling, common
in winter, but I don’t
mind, until […]
Can you see how the paraphrase works? You can also twist the meaning consciously by changing prepositions, or conjunctions. In this case, I chose to change some connecting words, just to give it a new twist.
This works almost like the paraphrase, except that now you try to write the exact opposite of the original meaning. Let’s look at ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing.’ When this poem talks about angels, you could write about the fallen angel, Lucifer. When the herald angels sing in the original, maybe they’re silent in your poem. Talk about giving a new twist to an old classic!
How about we decide we want to turn Christmas on its head? Choose an interesting last line and then turn the whole poem upside down, writing the lines in the opposite order.
This happens when you apply this technique to W.B. Yeats’s The Magi.
Example: The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor:
Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky.
Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye.
In the original poem, the mystery is the conclusion of this poem. Here, by standing the poem on its head, it’s the ‘mind’s eye’ that suddenly is the conclusion.
Again, this is not a finished poem. In this first draft, I only adjusted the punctuation. But of course, you can always change more! How about applying one of the other techniques to this material?
The Last Word
Christmas is a holiday highly charged with emotions. Your memories, especially your childhood experiences and the Christmas stories you know – all of these can provide material for writing. All you need to do is to tap into that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for some Christmas poetry of your own. May you have a merry Christmas and lots of new poems!
- 10 Ways To Kickstart Your Writing At Christmas
- Writing The Christmas Themed Story
- Holiday Plot Generator
By Susanne Bennett
Susanne is a German-American writer who is a journalist by trade and a writer by heart. After years of working at German public radio and an online news portal, she has decided to accept challenges by Deadlines for Writers. Currently she is writing her first novel with them. She is known for overweight purses and carrying a novel everywhere. Follow her on Facebook.
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