A great big Thank You to Juan Morales for another awesome poetry prompt:
Fun with Similes
We all know metaphor and simile and sometimes take them for granted, but it does not change their obvious importance. Kim Addonizio writes “Metaphor speaks of one thing in terms of others, creating a kind of energy field, what I think of as “the shimmer….Simile does the same thing, only a bit more obviously: to say that a grain of sand is like a world would make the comparison explicit.” I can’t speak for most poets, but I usually go for the easy simile and uncover a comparison too close to the poem’s established world. Good simile and metaphor embrace the departing nature of the simile more so readers can access the grain of sand and the world simultaneously. Here’s a poem from Major Jackson’s book Holding Company that does an amazing job with simile.
How You Love by Major Jackson
Like the injured laid down at the scene of an accident
before cars collide, like cloud striations over
Fairyland Loop, like a kid’s carnival balloon
diminishing and lost to the great blue,
like bright jewels scattered in some secret cave, like two
scissor blades breaking apart, like after-party guacamole
with drips of salsa, like diamonds of light rotating over
an empty dance floor, like priests at night staring
in store windows at half-nude mannequins,
like dark earwax , like unscented candles, like Janus.
Jackson uses eleven similes in a ten-line poem with so many surprises and turns in his rendering the act of love. Even if the use of “like”softens the comparison, it works so well. The line breaks, and length of the lines, and listing also help reinforce the unpredictability too.
For today’s exercise, I want you to work with the comparison explicit. Write a poem with a seemingly simplistic title and use as many similes as possible to help establish an emotional connection. Another approach to this exercise is to start with as many random similes as possible and then select a title as the unifier.
Feel free to participate in the poetic conversation here at ZingaraPoet by adding your poetic response to this prompt in the comments section below. Go ahead, don’t be shy – make the conversation interesting!
For this one I did ten similes and then the title:
like a storm cloud of birds, roiling;
like Saracen sails in the harbor
of Gozo; like hemoglobin;
like sorcery; like capillary
waves in my eyes; like
shin bones; like lemmings
bright with purpose; like kettledrums
and carousels; like shawls of tracery
and thorns; like constellations, star
by Roy Beckemeyer
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