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On Craft

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ONOMATOPEIA ǀ The Sound of Poetry

by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana As poets, we have the power to jumpstart people’s imaginations… “To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.” Octavio Paz One of my favourite things about poetry is the supernatural ability it has to awaken our feelings and senses. For me, a great poem is like a New Years’ firework show – It’ll make you see, smell, hear, taste and feel whatever the poet is writing about. As poets, we have the power to jumpstart people’s imaginations, using literary devices like onomatopoeia, to ignite their senses. At first glance, onomatopoeia looks like a daunting word, but it’s actually a really fun and simple concept. It refers to words that when spoken, imitate the sound they produce – bang, buzz, tap, roar, click, whoosh, chirp are a few examples. But beware, onomatopoeia is often…

PUNCTUATION ǀ Punctuate with Purpose

by Reese Leyva ǀ @reese.leyva Let’s talk about punctuation in poetry. We all learned “proper” punctuation in school, but in the world of poetry those rules become hazy and less urgent. However, punctuation is still important in poetry. It has its time and place, and can be quite effective when used with purpose. Let’s take a look at one of my recent poems where a small bit of punctuation was, I felt, crucial. Have mercy on these bones, I didn’t mean to wake you, I just thought you should know I don’t deserve to be here… better let me go. Don’t you dare love me anymore.  When I first wrote this poem it had no punctuation at all, but when reading the final version you can see how important those three commas are. Not only do they help clarify the phrasing; they give you the feeling of breathlessness as you…

METAPHORS & SIMILES ǀ Show Don’t Tell

by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana “a powerful poem will make you feel whatever the poet is feeling; it’ll teleport you to a place, painting a vivid picture in your mind “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Emily Dickens. In my opinion, there’s no simple recipe for writing a great poem but like Emily Dickens describes in her quote, a powerful poem will make you feel whatever the poet is feeling; it’ll teleport you to a place, painting a vivid picture in your mind. To write powerful poetry, we must sharpen our writing technique – this will spice up our poems and make them memorable. You can add flavour, depth and vividness to your poetry, using similes and metaphors. These literary devices compare one thing to another in a creative way. Similes compare, using the word like or as,…

COMPARE or CONTRAST ǀ The Same? Or Different?

by Reese Leyva ǀ @reese.leyva One powerful, and memorable, aspect of poetry arises when two separate and distinct things (people, objects, feelings, weather patterns, etc.) come together…or collide. Like souls and oceans. Like heartbreak and whiskey. Like fury and lightning. To manage this combination or collision of ideas, writers will compare or contrast the two things in their work. What’s the difference, you ask? Technically, to compare means to find the similarities while to contrast means to find the differences. In poetry, these tools are the perfect way to give your readers an “in” into your poem, a foothold upon which they can stand to experience the feeling or emotion you’re setting out for them. Maybe your reader doesn’t know what it’s like to experience snow, but when you compare a pile of snow to a pile of autumn leaves, both eagerly waiting to get jumped into and tossed around,…

PERSONIFICATION ǀ Make Your Poetry POP!

by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana “Personification will make your writing more vivid by painting a striking picture with just a few words. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison Thomas Edison wasn’t far off. For me, writing a poem is about 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration. The perspiration part is spending a lot of time crafting the writing and figuring out how to make a poem stand out. One of my favourite ways to make a poem pop is to use personifcation, a writing technique that gives objects and animals human traits such as: emotions, desires and gestures. For example, “The ocean bowed down and kissed my feet as I charged against its waves.” I love this technique because it makes poetry magical by sprinkling bits of extraordinary to an otherwise ordinary sentence. Personification will make your writing more vivid by painting a striking picture with…

On Craft Vocabulary: “Ghastly”

My apologies for the silence these last couple of days. I feel as though we’re officially re-settling into our Hawaiian lifestyle now, and it’s back to the active life we once knew and loved, which is a good thing. The only catch is, that now we’re five.ish years older, and the active lifestyle isn’t one we’re used to anymore, so we’ve been pretty run down lately. :p . But I’ve not forgotten you, my wonderful writing students! So who’s ready to learn a new word? . #ghastly (not to be confused with the pokemon), is a word with a couple of meanings, but in regardless of your definition, it’s still an adjective. Definition 1 is “causing great horror or fear,” and definition 2 is “extremely unwell.” Let’s take a look at a couple examples. . Using definition 1: I thought up a prank and admit: it was cunning –  The…

Prepositions: Where Relationships Begin

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about prepositions, the part of grammar which – for reasons of which I’m not entirely certain – is where my love of grammar first began. To put it simply, prepositions are words (or phrases) which further define the relationship between a noun/pronoun in a statement and, well, some other element in the statement. This might be easiest to explain with some examples. The cow jumped over the moon James, eat your veggies before dessert. I baked that pie with my bare hands. All of these examples use prepositions to define the actions of the nouns. If you can recall back to my article about grammar being like a train, you’ll remember that a statement is complete as long as it has a subject and a verb. That being said, we know that, “The cow jumped; James, eat your veggies; and I baked…

Writing Challenge: “Summer Heat” Limerick

I’m not sure what the weather’s like where you live, but here, it’s pretty durn hot! Even with a good amount of rain lately, we’re basically just roasting during the daytime hours. :p In honor (or loathing) of this season’s heat, your challenge this week is to write a limerick about what the summer heat means to you. Do you love the summer time for any reason? Tell us about it! Or do you just sit there drenched in sweat counting down the days until cooler weather returns? Then by all means, put it into verse! Remember, though, that limericks have a few guidelines: 1- Limericks are 5 lines long following a rhyme scheme of AABBA (the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme together, and the third and fourth rhyme, as well). 2- Limericks are typically funny, crude, or both. You may write a more serious limerick if you’d like,…

Poetic Fundamentals: Where We All Begin

Poetic Fundamentals: Rhyming You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know at least one rhyme be it one they heard recently or one which floats around at the back of their mind from their formative years. Rhymes can be catchy, fun, and for centuries, they’ve been employed as a clever way of helping people learn. Poetry is obviously no stranger to rhyming, either, where most children’s first examples of poetry are introduced as nursery rhymes. Did you know, though, that rhyming isn’t always as simple as children’s poems? Rhyming at its Simplest Before we delve into different methods of rhyming, first we should ensure that the basic definition is understood. A rhyme is a sound which corresponds to and otherwise matches the sound of another word: sometimes words rhyme because their endings are spelled the same. Make, cake, slake, and rake are examples of words which rhyme because of their common…

Ilk (noun, and also not always negative)

Let’s learn a new word! . Ilk is one of those words which frequently comes with negative associations. Maybe it’s something to do with the sound of the word? I really don’t know, but the word itself isn’t a negative one at all! It’s simply a word used to describe someone or something to which you’ve already referred. Check out the example below. . The members of the court, lawyers, and other heartless ilk sat at the head of the room and scoffed. . In this examine, ilk refers to people like lawyers and members of the court – essentially anyone heartless like them. Okay, maybe that’s not the best example to use if I’m trying to convince you that ilk isn’t a negative word. Try this one. . Care Bears, teddy bears, and Bearenstein Bears are the kind of ilk which my childhood stories revolved around. . See? Not…