It is hard for me to really separate the approach to writing poetry from the approach to writing music. When I say this, I don’t mean writing lyrics, but rather the chord progression and melody, both vocal and instrumental. Both music and poetry are compact forms of expression that often condense the emotion of a long period of time or observe with fine detail small and intimate moments.
More importantly, music that connects with you connects with who you are as a writer. Art that we love in some way identifies pieces of our artistic ideals. In the composition of songs you love, you can discover more of yourself as an artist, writer, and poet. The beauty of it is that your response to music is completely natural; you do little past keeping your ears open and you have fallen in love with some combination of rhythm and melody. Regardless if it is whimsical or utterly somber, in liking a song you have identified an organization of emotion and expression that resonates with you genuinely. Langston Hughes’ Po’ Boy Blues, http://static.poetryfoundation.org/jstor/i20575771/pages/30.png, is a classic and direct example of the use of music as a reference for the form of a poem.
So whip out the iPod, CD, or laptop and put on a song that you love. Compose a poem that replicates its pace, its rhythm, its balance between instruments, and its melodies, but with your own story or moment. It’s less of a technical exercise, but more of a way to better understand the functions of art you respect.