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Writing Poems About Nature Without Sounding Cliche

This has been quite a week so far. I live in Northeast Ohio, less than an hour south of Cleveland, which put me right in one of the prime eclipse viewing locations in the country. It was truly inspiring that a natural event brought people from all over the country to my state and that everyone came together to witness a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

I went on a bike ride with my parents on a trail that dead ends in the country. We not only stopped and checked the progress of the eclipse along the way (with appropriate safety glasses, of course), but made it to a relatively isolated area just in time to see the main event unfold.

I was told to expect it to be amazing, but nothing could have prepared me for it. The ethereal darkness, the crown of the sun surrounded by the moon, the nocturnal insects that got confused and started to chirp—it was utterly astounding.

I'm writing this the day after the event itself, and I'm still not over it. It felt like I went to another planet.


I don’t know about you, but unique experiences like this make me want to write cool things. I’m sure most writers are like that, but as a fiction writer, I always start thinking about incorporating whatever the cool thing is into my work. Since I write fiction exclusively about Northeast Ohio, I’m already thinking about how to accomplish this.


But since it’s National Poetry Month, it’s also worth saying that nature has long been a source of inspiration for many poets, including Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver, and many more.


Nature is a common topic for poets, but I can’t blame you if you shy away from it. After all, it’s easy to become concerned that your nature poem will be unoriginal. How many poems about trees does the world need, anyway? And how many ways can you describe flowers?


It’s easy to let these concerns impede your creative thinking. Maybe you have even been struggling to write a poem about the eclipse because of these questions. Capturing the beauty and complexity of the natural world without resorting to clichés or sounding insincere can be challenging.


In this blog post, we'll explore how to write poems about nature in a way that is creative, original, and truly reflects your unique perspective. By following these tips, you can infuse your poetry with authenticity and depth without relying on tired metaphors or overly flowery language.


Let's dive in and discover how to write poems about nature that stand out from the crowd.


Embrace Your Unique Perspective on Nature


While you might fear writing a nature poem that contains worn-out clichés and images, the natural world is rich with stories, emotions, and experiences unique to each observer. The most compelling and refreshing pieces often stem from a deeply personal viewpoint. This means your interaction with the environment carries an authenticity no one else can replicate.


Your memories, the places you’ve bonded with, and even the fleeting encounters in the natural world that have stirred something within you are fertile grounds for poetic exploration. These elements of personal significance will breathe life into your work, transforming familiar landscapes into realms of your own making.


Maybe you spent your childhood climbing trees or wading through creeks. If you’re like me and grew up in a more urban area, perhaps the neighbors’ gardens were a source of beauty that drew your attention. Alternatively, if your connection to nature is more recent, the wonder and discovery you experience may be channeled into verses inviting others to see the world through new eyes.


The challenge and opportunity lie in delving into your own experiences and emotions to find that unique angle or insight. It's about moving beyond the generic portrayal of nature’s beauty to uncover the nuanced and deeply personal connections that make your perspective stand out.

By doing so, you enrich your poetry and offer readers a chance to engage with the natural world in a way they may never have considered.


So, take a moment to reflect on what nature means to you and on those instances that left an indelible mark. Let these insights guide your hand as you write, allowing your unique voice to illuminate the natural world in a way only you can.


Observation is Key: Look Closer


Great poems about nature are all about the details. This isn't about simply glancing at a scene and moving on. It's about diving deep into the small elements of your natural perspective that others might overlook.


The art of observation is much like learning a new language. At first, the details may seem overwhelming or inconsequential. But the more you develop a keen eye for detail, the more you enrich your poetry and everyday experience of nature, making both more vibrant and intricate.


Think about the experience of watching the eclipse. If you got to see it, it may have been tempting to get caught up in the event’s grandeur (or listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” as it unfolded). But the real magic is in the details—the gradual dimming of the light, the sudden drop in temperature, and the way animals around you react.


These observations can turn a poem about an eclipse from a simple depiction of celestial mechanics into a rich tapestry of sensory experiences, connecting the cosmic to the personal.


Observation of nature challenges you to slow down and engage with your surroundings. It's about more than just seeing; it's about experiencing. So, the next time you're out in nature, take a moment to pause.


Look closer. What do you notice that you've never seen before? How does it make you feel? These are the seeds from which original, compelling poetry can grow.


Break Free from Traditional Structures


There's a liberating truth in poetry that not everyone initially grasps: the absence of a rigid framework opens up a world of creative possibilities. Remember that the conventional poetic forms are more like guidelines than unbreakable rules. This freedom allows you to find the rhythm and structure that resonate most authentically with your vision of the natural world.


Experimentation is key here. Play around with line lengths, stanza formations, and punctuation to see how these changes affect the flow and impact of your poem. It's all about matching the form of your poem to the feelings and images you wish to convey.


Moreover, engaging with unconventional structures can help underscore your unique perspective on nature. It allows the essence of what you've observed—the textures, sounds, and sensations—to guide the structure of your poem rather than imposing a pre-determined format that might not do justice to your experience.


But what if traditional forms are your thing? What if sonnets or pantoums are your jam? If so, try writing something less structured as a way to stretch your creative skills. Knowing what you’re good at is great, but you lose nothing by trying a technique outside your typical wheelhouse.


By stepping away from traditional structures, you're not abandoning form altogether but instead embracing a form that's inherently yours. It's an invitation to readers to see the natural world through your eyes, to feel the earth’s rhythm as you've experienced it. This approach not only enhances the originality of your work but also deepens the connection between your poetry and its readers.


Use Simple Language to Convey Deep Emotions


Navigating the realm of poetry, especially when it's woven around the themes of nature, doesn't necessitate a vocabulary that's richly laden with complexity. On the contrary, the power of poetry often shines brightest through simplicity.


The elegance of straightforward language allows the depth of your emotions and the clarity of your observations to resonate more profoundly with your audience. It's about choosing precise and purposeful words that cut directly to the heart of what you're trying to express.


This approach to language is not about diminishing the value of your experiences or the beauty of the natural world; instead, it’s about distilling them to their essence. Think of it as focusing a lens—too many details can blur the picture, but the proper adjustment brings everything into sharp relief. The challenge, then, is to convey the vastness of your feelings and the intricacies of nature without getting lost in a sea of adjectives and adverbs.


In this pursuit, remember that every word you choose is a brushstroke in your poetic landscape. By opting for simplicity, you grant each word more weight and significance, allowing your readers to immerse themselves fully in the imagery and emotion you're crafting. This is the art of using simple language to convey deep emotions — it's deliberate, thoughtful, and profound.

Edit with a Light Hand


Editing is a crucial phase in the creation of any poem, especially those that draw from the vast well of nature's beauty. However, this stage requires a delicate touch. The aim should not be to overhaul your initial draft completely but to refine it and polish those moments of genuine insight and emotion until they shine.


Think of editing as pruning a garden—not every branch needs cutting, and sometimes, the wild growth gives the landscape its charm.


As you revisit your work, watch for places where your message could be more precise or where the rhythm might falter. Yet, always remember the essence of what drove you to write in the first place. It's easy to get caught in the cycle of constant revision, but trust in the power of your first impressions of the natural world. Those spontaneous reactions often capture a truth that too much tinkering might blur.


Edit with care and respect for the original spirit of your poem. This balance between refinement and preservation will help your poetry maintain its integrity, ensuring that the heart of your message about nature’s marvels remains intact and impactful.


Need More Inspiration for Writing Poems About Nature?


Now that you’re armed with some strategies for writing poems about nature, it’s time to break out those language skills and write that eclipse poem that’s been stewing in your mind.


To get you started, I want to offer you a free resource: The Ultimate Poetry Workbook.


This workbook contains writing prompts, techniques, editing tips, and more for writing original poems about nature and a variety of other topics.


It’s the perfect tool for experimenting with poetry or improving your existing skills so you can reach your full creative potential and start impacting readers with your work.


Click below to grab a copy!

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