The verb for poetry and poems


Senior Member
Hello. Should I say, "she writes poems" but "she composes poetry"?

Can I say, "she writes poetry"?

I know for sure that I can't say, "she composes poems". It just sounds strange.

  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I would use "writes" in both sentences, and reserve "composes" for music.
    I hate to disagree, but I wrote many "compositions" in school and none had anything to do with music

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    compose /kəmˈpəʊz/vb (mainly tr)
    1. to put together or make up by combining; put in proper order
    2. to be the component elements of
    3. to produce or create (a musical or literary work)
    4. (intransitive) to write music
    5. to calm (someone, esp oneself); make quiet
    6. to adjust or settle (a quarrel, etc)
    7. to order the elements of (a painting, sculpture, etc); design
    8. to set up (type) is even more generous

    com·pose [kuh
    ] Show IPA

    verb (used with object), com·posed, com·pos· make or form by combining things, parts, or elements: He composed his speech from many researchnotes. be or constitute a part or element of: a rich sauce composed of many ingredients. make up or form the basis of: Style composes the essence of good writing. put or dispose in proper form or order: to compose laws into a coherent system.

    5.Art. to organize the parts or elements of (a picture or the like).

    I use "compose" whenever some degree of thought or originality is required, such as "composing a response on Word Reference."

    Finally, every newspaper has a "composing room" where the newspaper is laid out as above (No. 1)


    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Point well taken. And it's true, I might (in certain moods) say "I am composing a response on WordReference." Nonetheless, it would not generally occur to me to say that I had composed a poem, or poetry, or any other piece of writing that wasn't intended to be set to music.


    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    It's true, I would say that I wrote a composition.

    And if I made my living performing that activity, I would not call myself a composer.
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