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THEMES & SUBJECTS ǀ Energy, Emotion, Purpose

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…

RHYME ǀ Structure, Melody and Beauty

by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana Rhyme is a polarising topic in poetry: writers either love it or hate it. Traditional poets argue that only poems that rhyme can be considered real poetry, while some contemporary poets think rhyming is cheesy or “old school”. But using rhyme in poetry can be really fun. You can use rhyme to create repeating patterns that add structure, melody and beauty to your poem. So what exactly is rhyme? Well, it’s a literary device where the final sound of two or more words is repeated. For instance, “lime” rhymes with “time”. There are many types of rhymes, but in this blog post we’ll cover three: 1. End rhymes are rhymes that occur at the end of a poem’s line. 2. Masculine rhymes occur when the last syllable of words match. This type of rhyme only matches one syllable and this syllable is stressed or loud. For…

ALLITERATION ǀ Seductive Poetic Sounds

by Lucy Ochoa-Petit ǀ @lucy_luisana “I would define, in brief, poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” Edgar Allan Poe. Why does poetry sound so beautiful? Sometimes, it even sounds seductive. Why are some poems so appealing to our ears? You might say it’s the creative use of language that makes poetry lovely, and you’d be right—but there’s more to it. It’s the sound the words and their syllables make that creates an attractive musical rhythm. Alliteration is a key literary device we can use to make our poems sound sexy, helping us seduce and captivate our readers. Alliteration is complex. It’s the wild child of literary devices, causing a lot of debate around its proper use, so for the sake of simplicity, alliteration is when the initial sounds of words repeat in a phrase. The words can be right next to each other or separated by other words,…

ONOMATOPOEIA 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…