Poetry essay: Poetic twists

One poetic effect, is the idea of a twist.

Here is one example:

After struggling,
and sweat,
and endless hours,

he lost,

 

 

    fifteen pounds.

 

In this case, the first part makes the loosing seem like a bad thing.  There was a great deal of effort and then the person lost?  The twist though, was that the loosing was actually good.  He lost weight, which presumably, was a goal.

Here is another example:

they roamed the street
with eyes and teeth aglow

they approached the home
seeking to consume
that which was within

and at the door
as those within came forth
they shrieked their horrible call,
“Trick or treat!”

This poem is about Halloween.  The poem at first sounds like some monsters are about and they are going to eat people in a home.  In reality, they are trick or treaters dressed up for Halloween hoping to get candy.

Here is a third example:

the sun was shining
and the flowers,
just blooming,
filled the air with fragrance

everyone gathered
dressed in their best
as music played

nearby
doves cooed
waiting to be released

and
as a hush came over the crowd
someone gave
the slightest of signals
and the funeral began

 

This poem seems to start off happy.  It sounds like it is describing an outdoor wedding.  It’s a sunny day, there are fragrance filled flowers, there are lots of people who are dressed up, music is playing, and doves are going to be released.  In the twist though, this happy scene is really sad.  The scene is of a funeral.  All the bright things are in some way a cover for sadness.  The sadness of the scene is revealed at the end.

 

Here are some tips for using twists in your poems:

  • Have a lead in. For a twist to work there needs to be an appropriate lead in.  It needs to be long enough and effective enough that the reader forms an image and emotion in their mind.
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  • Consider offsetting the twist. One way to create a pause for a twist, is to have it indented, after some number of line breaks, or both.  The idea is to have a dramatic pause to emphasize the twist.
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  • Consider your title. The title can be part of the lead in or it can be a twist as well.  You can have a title that alludes to the reality of the poem while seeming to fit with the lead in.  If done correctly, this can amplify the effect of the twist.
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  • Don’t go too far with a twist. Be careful not to turn off your audience with a twist.  Turning something happy to something sad is all right.  Turning something happy to something disturbing, might not be.
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  • Know the twist before you start. This can make setting it up easier.  If you just write a scene with some emotion, but aren’t sure what the cause of the emotional change will be, it can make the lead in difficult to write and less effective.
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  • Consider multiple kinds of twists. You can twist from happy to sad, from serious to silly, from large to small, from calm to excitement, and many other things.  Also, you can twist the other way, for example sad to happy or silly to serious.
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  • Make sure the twist makes sense. The twist should be an opposite.  You can twist from happy to sad, but happy to serious might not work as well.  In the third poem above, the happy scene of a wedding was twisted to the sad scene of a funeral.  If this happy scene though had twisted to something like the opening of an office building, it might not have worked as well.

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Poetry topic idea: Halloween

As today is Halloween, today’s poetry topic idea is Halloween.  Happy Halloween.

There are a number of ways a poet could write about Halloween.  A poet could write about:

  • Trick or treating.
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  • Costumes.
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  • The history of Halloween.
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  • Alternatives to Halloween.
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  • Frightening things.
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  • Horror movies.
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  • Candy.
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  • Jack-o-lanterns.
  •  

  • Decorations.

Experimental Poetry Form: carried over words

This experimental poetry form consists of one stanza with five lines.  Each of the lines has three words.  From the second through the fifth line, one word carries over from the line before.  Here is what the form looks like with each non-repeated word noted with *’s and the carried over words noted with letters:

* B *

* B F

H * F

H * M

* * M

 

As can be seen, the second word of line one, becomes the second word of line two.  The third word of line two, becomes the third word of line three.  The first word of line three, becomes the first word of line four.  The third word of line four, becomes the third word of line five.

Here is an example poem:

The pumpkins run!
All pumpkins flee!
You must flee!
You see there –
Halloween is there!

Artwork to inspire poetry: Persimmon

Persimmon

Above is an artwork of a persimmon.  As today is Halloween, it seemed appropriate to have an orange colored produce item as the subject of the artwork.  Rather than going with the traditional pumpkin, a persimmon was chosen instead.

Some poetry ideas that can come from this artwork are:

  • Poems about persimmons. While a fruit might not seem to be a significant topic for a poem, it can be worked into many poems as an object that ties ideas together.  Think of a poem about someone who has died.  A poet could write about a gathering after the funeral where persimmons are in a bowl.  The fruit could be used as a vehicle to examine different subjects.
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  • Poems about difference from expectations. This persimmon is not a pumpkin.  It is different from what might be expected.  A poet could use the difference from expectations in poetry.
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  • Poems about something new. Maybe some readers may have never tried a persimmon.  This idea of something new could be used in poetry.  A poet could write about a new experience.

Here is a poem inspired by this artwork:

trying to carve a persimmon,
would probably be really hard,
stick to pumpkins

Artwork to inspire poetry: Jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern

Happy Halloween!

This artwork is of a jack-o-lantern, as today is Halloween.

The artwork was originally made with charcoal and colored pencil.  That drawing was then scanned and computer altered.

All sorts of pumpkin/jack-o-lantern/Halloween poetry could be inspired by this artwork.  Here is an example haiku:

Looking in the eyes,
as brightness glowed from within,
the children were glad

Artwork to inspire poetry: Jack-o-lanterns

Jack-o-lanterns

The above is an artwork to inspire poetry.  It is a photograph of two carved jack-o-lanterns from Halloween.

This artwork can inspire poetry in a variety of ways.

First, they could inspire a poet to generally write about Halloween.  Halloween is a very broad topic, and this artwork might help a poet to focus on a jack-o-lantern themed poem.

Secondly, they could inspire a poet to compare two sides of something.  The jack-o-lantern on the left has a pleasant face, while the one on the right has a scary face.  Although they are both jack-o-lanterns, they contrast.  A poet could use this idea and be inspired to write about situations with a similar quality.

Thirdly, a poet could see the carved pumpkins and be inspired to write a poem personifying them.  A poet could write a poem expressing their imagined personalities and feelings.

In addition to these ideas, there are also a variety of other poetic inspirations that could come from this artwork.

A Poem: Happy Halloween

The thirty first at night,
when there is such a fright,

  the pumpkins glow with eyes,
  and spiders weave their webs,
  and sounds are heard around,

and when the clouds do hide the moon,
and it gets dark by time too soon,

  within the homes the candles light,
  and shadows move just out of sight,

the sights of things that walk around,
in eyes and minds that see,
do move in groups and they abound,
to frighten all that be,

  they shriek with sounds and grimace too,
  and then they all exclaim,
  the ‘trick or treat’ they say with glee,
  for candy is their aim!