For our May session, our member Eileen led a lesson about how to write the ‘Poetry of Emotion.’
We started out with the basics; brainstorming as many emotions as we could. Sometimes it’s easy to think all emotive poetry is about love because there is so much of it around! But there are actually a lot of different emotions which a poet can use. The only problem is that once you’ve chosen an emotion to write about, how do you describe it?
We each chose an emotion and used it in an exercise where we asked the following questions:
- What colour is the emotion?
- What does it taste like?
- What does it smell like?
- What does it look like?
- What does it sound like?
- What does it feel like?
This really helped us get under the skin of our chosen emotion by using different senses to bring it to life. It can be difficult to assign a taste, smell or sound to an emotion!
Here’s an example:
Guilt is a lingering putrid yellow
that tastes like acid reflux.
It smells like an urban underpass on Sunday morning,
looks like a peeling carcass,
and sounds like a constant drone of insects.
It feels like dragging a rock, the frayed rope ribboning scars into your palms.
We’ve now got a starting point for an interesting poem about emotion!
For our next exercise, we looked at simile and metaphor.
A SIMILE is where you say something IS LIKE something else.
e.g. as green as grass, as dark as night, sharp like a knife
A METAPHOR is when you say something IS something else.
e.g. Her old hand was a withered leaf
Using these way of describing things, we tried to think of metaphors and similes for different emotions. Here’s some for guilt again, and also for love:
<Simile> Guilt feels like your conscience is caught in a trouser press.
Love is like honey being poured over your life.
<Metaphor> Guilt is woodworm; corrosive, picking holes in you, and weakening your structural integrity.
Love is honey being poured over your life.
Simile and metaphor are really good devices for making your reader understand exactly what you meant in your writing. Therefore they’re really useful when talking about emotion, because if you’re trying to describe an emotion to your reader, you should liken it to something they can relate to.
We tried to write a poem using metaphor and simile.
Serenity is undisturbed leaves on the forest floor,
blades of grass, warm underfoot,
and sinking into the sound of waves.
Serenity is a fluttering drape flashing views of a sunny day.
an untouched glass of milk, fresh from the fridge and smooth as an opal.
Serenity is walking into sunbeams, blinded but footsure,
alone in engulfing yellow light.
May Writing Task
Our writing task this month is to pick an emotion and produce a poem using either (or both) of the techniques we learned.