by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana

Poetry has a bad rap. Many people think poems are cheesy, whiney, overly sentimental or only about love. But if you do a bit of reading, you’ll quickly realise that’s not always true.

Poetry is powerful. Poems harness the energy, emotion and images evoked by words to communicate strong feelings and messages of hope, love, chage and more.

We can inject this power and purpose into our poems by setting a clear subject and a strong theme.

A theme is the idea behind a poem; it’s the main point the poet is trying to get across. In some poems, themes are obvious; while in others, themes are implicit so you have to read between the lines to fish them out.  Some common themes are love, death, loss, loneliness, optimism, hopefulness—the list goes on.  

On the other hand, the subject of the poem is the topic or what the poem is about. For example, you might write a poem about heartbreak—that’s the subject— and the theme is your feelings and opinion on the matter. For instance, heartbreak is extremely painful, but a necessary right of passage into adulthood.

Setting a clear theme and subject will add depth to your poem. Unusual, quirky or unexplored themes and subjects will give your poems an interesting edge, making them stand out. There are millions of themes and subjects you can write about. Dive into your imagination and personal experience, or carefully observe the world around you for inspiration.

And themes can be particularly useful if you’re writing a poetry book or series. You can set a major theme like, “change helps us grow”, tying all your poems together, while each poem explores different aspects of change through subjects like relationships or moving cities.

So to set your next poem’s theme and subject:
– Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Get creative with vocabulary, poetry forms and poetic devices like metaphors and similes.
– Brainstorm different topic and theme combinations. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
– Decide if you want to express your theme directly or indirectly. Explore both ways.

At the end of the day, we write because we have something important to say—because we want to express our ideas, feelings and opinions (theme) about a particular topic (subject).

Keep in mind our words have power, especially, now we can share them with hundreds or even thousands of people through social media. Remember, whatever our message is, let’s make it a powerful and positive one.


Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana

Lucy is a curious creative who loves all things poetry. Her writing reflects her experiences and the world around her. She is passionate about helping others discover their love of poetry and poetic voice through writing technique.

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