The crux of this advice is simple, but far too few potentially good poets follow it. Poetry is a vast art form. In my opinion, it is a far more varied form than painting. Many different types of writing can come under the heading of poetry, from highly structured forms to free-flowing uncontrolled verse. The topics of poetry also can branch in a nearly infinite number of directions.
In order to comprehend the art of poetry, a person needs to study it. Just as a painter studies the old masters and the newest techniques, a poet must do the same. Poetry has been around as long as there has been writing. You can read poems that are over a thousand years old. You can also read poems that were posted to a website moments before. The key is to read, and to study. Get to know the poetry that is around you.
Don’t forget to keep writing, though. When you take in the knowledge and creativity of other poets, don’t forget that the end goal is to produce something worthy of the next poet’s study. Every time you write a poem, you push and expand your abilities — you gain new insights.
Study your own poetry just as you would study someone else’s. Allow yourself to learn from both your mistakes and your victories. Above all, keep writing.
Here is a short list of poets, both classic and contemporary to get you started on the path or reading:
William Carlos Williams
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Percy Bysshe Shelley