Tuesday, October 9, 2012

poetry: on being the poet

As I've said several times before, the more of a poet and writer you become, the better analyst and critical thinker you'll be when analyzing poetry and literature.

I want you to choose one of the following literary devices (I've chosen some that you may be less familiar with). This will be the title of your poem. Then, write a poem ABOUT that device, USING that device. I've included an example.

This blog is due no later than 8am Wednesday.

My example:

Father Spoonerism

O dear Daddy Spoonerism, 
Your twisting tongue is ever
Bonfusing my crain,
Wisting my twords,
Thrambling my soughts.

From a young age, it's always been
Nicken chuggets,
Lapped chips,
Lipped chaps,
and pail nolish.

Justice was received:
While I was sitting in front church pew,
Attentive to Father's sermon,
The words were bending, twisting, reversing...

We are called to pray!
We are called to pray!
We are prayed to call!


Amplification refers to a literary practice wherein the writer embellishes the sentence by adding more information to it in order to increase its worth and understandability. When a plain sentence is too abrupt and fails to convey the full implications desired, amplification comes into play when the writer adds more to the structure to give it more meaning.

Original sentence- The thesis paper was difficult. After amplification- The thesis paper was difficult: it required extensive research, data collection, sample surveys, interviews and a lot of fieldwork.

Anastrophe is a form of literary device wherein the order of the noun and the adjective in the sentence is exchanged. In standard parlance and writing the adjective comes before the noun but when one is employing an anastrophe the noun is followed by the adjective. This reversed order creates a dramatic impact and lends weight to the description offered by the adjective.

He spoke of times past and future, and dreamt of things to be.

Anthropomorphism can be understood to be the act of lending a human quality, emotion or ambition to a non-human object or being. This act of lending a human element to a non-human subject is often employed in order to endear the latter to the readers or audience and increase the level of relativity between the two while also lending character to the subject.

The raging storm brought with it howling winds and fierce lightning as the residents of the village looked up at the angry skies in alarm.

For the differences between anthropomorphism and personification: http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-anthropomorphism-and-personification

An aphorism is a concise statement that is made in a matter of fact tone to state a principle or an opinion that is generally understood to be a universal truth. Aphorisms are often adages, wise sayings and maxims aimed at imparting sense and wisdom. It is to be noted that aphorisms are usually witty and curt and often have an underlying tone of authority to them.

Upon seeing the shoddy work done by the employee the boss told him to “either shape up or ship out”.

Asyndeton refers to a practice in literature whereby the author purposely leaves out conjunctions in the sentence, while maintaining the grammatical accuracy of the phrase. Asyndeton as a literary tool helps in shortening up the implied meaning of the entire phrase and presenting it in a succinct form. This compact version helps in creating an immediate impact whereby the reader is instantly attuned to what the writer is trying to convey. Use of this literary device helps in creating a strong impact and such sentences have greater recall worth since the idea is presented in a nutshell.

1. Read, Write, Learn.
2. Watch, Absorb, Understand.
3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Authorial Intrusion is an interesting literary device wherein the author penning the story, poem or prose steps away from the text and speaks out to the reader. Authorial Intrusion establishes a one to one relationship between the writer and the reader where the latter is no longer a secondary player or an indirect audience to the progress of the story but is the main subject of the author’s attention.

In many olden novels, especially in suspense novels, the protagonist would move away from the stream of the story and speak out to the reader. This technique was often used to reveal some crucial elements of the story to the reader even though the protagonist might remain mystified within the story for the time being.

As the very name itself suggests, this kind of literary device finds its roots in biblical origins. This term refers to the practice of basing a plot happening or event and anticipating the results it will have on a faction of the Bible. It involves a random selection process wherein the biblical passage is chosen as a founding stone for basing the outcome of the writing. In an overall context, not limited to just literature, bibliomancy refers to foretelling the future by turning to random portions of the Bible for guidance.

The Vedas serve as a tool for Bibliomancy to the Hindus while Muslims rely on the Koran.

A cacophony in literature refers to the use of words and phrases that imply strong, harsh sounds within the phrase. These words have jarring and dissonant sounds that create a disturbing, objectionable atmosphere.

His fingers rapped and pounded the door, and his foot thumped against the yellowing wood

This literary device involves creating a fracture of sorts within a sentence where the two separate parts are distinguishable from one another yet intrinsically linked to one another. The purpose of using a caesura is to create a dramatic pause, which has a strong impact. The pause helps to add an emotional, often theatrical touch to the sentence and conveys a depth of sentiment in a short phrase.

Mozart- oh how your music makes me soar!

Circumlocution is a form of writing where the writer uses exaggeratedly long and complex sentences in order to convey a meaning that could have otherwise been conveyed through a shorter, much simpler sentence. Circumlocution involves stating an idea or a view in an indirect manner that leaves the reader guessing and grasping at the actual meaning.

Instead of writing “he arrived for dinner at 8 pm” the author writes, “8 pm was when he reached the dinner party”.

Deus ex Machina is a rather debatable and often criticized form of literary device. It refers to the incidence where an implausible concept or character is brought into the story in order to make the conflict in the story resolve and to bring about a pleasing solution. The use of Deus ex Machina is not recommended as it is seen to be the mark of a poor plot that the writer needs to resort to random, insupportable and unbelievable twists and turns to reach the end of the story.

If in a suspense novel the protagonist suddenly finds a solution to his dilemmas because of divine intervention.

The term ‘euphemism’ is used to refer to the literary practice of using a comparatively milder or less abrasive form of a negative description instead of its original, unsympathetic form. This device is used when writing about matters such as sex, violence, death, crimes and "embarrassing". The purpose of euphemisms is to substitute unpleasant and severe words with more genteel ones in order to mask the harshness.. The use of euphemisms is sometimes manipulated to lend a touch of exaggeration or irony in satirical writing.

Using “to put out to pasture” when one implies retiring a person because they are too old to be effective.

The literary device “euphony” refers to the use of phrases and words that are noted for possessing an extensive degree of notable loveliness or melody in the sound they create. The use of euphony is predominant in literary prose and poetry, where poetic devices such as alliterations, rhymes and assonace are used to create pleasant sounds. Euphony is the opposite of cacophony, which refers to the creation of unpleasant and harsh sounds by using certain words/ phrases together. This literary devices is based on the use and manipulation of phonetics in literature.

It has been said that the phrase “cellar door” is reportedly the most pleasant sounding phrase in the English language. The phrase is said to depict the highest degree of euphony, and is said to be especially notable when spoken in the British accent.

A hyperbaton is a literary device wherein the author plays with the regular positioning of words and phrases and creates a differently structured sentence to convey the same meaning. It is said that by using a hyperbaton, words/ phrases overstep their conventional placements and result in a more complex and intriguing sentence structure. This literary device is used to add more depth and interest to the sentence structure.

“Alone he walked on the cold, lonely roads”. This sentence is a variation of the more conventional, “He walked alone on the cold, lonely roads”.
understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary (as in not a bad singer or not unhappy)

Malapropism in literature refers to the practice of misusing words by substituting words with similar sounding words that have different, often unconnected meanings, and thus creating a situation of confusion, misunderstanding and amusement. Malapropism is used to convey that the speaker/character is flustered, bothered, unaware or confused and as a result cannot employ proper diction. A trick to using malapropism is to ensure that the two words (the original and the substitute) sound similar enough for the reader to catch onto the intended switch and find humor in the result.

In the play Much Ado About Nothing, noted playwright William Shakespeare’s character Dogberry says, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons." Instead, what the character means to say is “"Our watch, sir, have indeed apprehended two suspicious persons."

Metonymy in literature refers to the practice of not using the formal word for an object/subject and instead referring to it by using another word that is intricately linked to the formal name/word. It is the practice of substituting the main word with a word that is closely linked to it.

When we use the name “Washington D.C” we are talking about the U.S’ political hot seat by referring to the political capital of the United States because all the significant political institutions such as the White House, Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol and many more are located her. The phrase “Washington D.C.” is metonymy for the government of the U.S. in this case.

The literary device ‘motif’ is any element, subject, idea or concept that is constantly present through the entire body of literature. Using a motif refers to the repetition of a specific theme dominating the literary work. Motifs are very noticeable and play a significant role in defining the nature of the story, the course of events and the very fabric of the literary piece.

In all the famed fairytales, the motif of a ‘handsome prince’ falling in love with a ‘damsel in distress’ and the two being bothered by a wicked step-mother/ evil witch/ beast and finally conquering all and living ‘happily ever after’ is a common motif.
Another common motif is the simple, pretty peasant girl or girl from a modest background in fairytales discovering that she is actually a royal or noble by the end of the tale.

Oxymoron is a significant literary device as it allows the author to use contradictory, contrasting concepts placed together in a manner that actually ends up making sense in a strange, and slightly complex manner. An oxymoron is an interesting literary device because it helps to perceive a deeper level of truth and explore different layers of semantics while writing.

Sometimes we cherish things of little value.
He possessed a cold fire in his eyes.

A paradox in literature refers to the use of concepts/ ideas that are contradictory to one another, yet, when placed together they hold significant value on several levels. The uniqueness of paradoxes lies in the fact that a deeper level of meaning and significance is not revealed at first glace, but when it does crystallize, it provides astonishing insight.

High walls make not a palace; full coffers make not a king.

The term ‘periphrasis’ refers to the use of excessive language and surplus words to convey a meaning that could otherwise be conveyed with fewer words and in more direct a manner. The use of this literary device can be to embellish a sentence, to create a grander effect, to beat around the bush and to draw attention away from the crux of the message being conveyed.

Instead of simply saying “I am displeased with your behavior”, one can say, “the manner in which you have conducted yourself in my presence of late has caused me to feel uncomfortable and has resulted in my feeling disgruntled and disappointed with you”.

In literature, the literary device ‘polysyndeton’ refers to the process of using conjunctions or connecting words frequently in a sentence, placed very close to one another, as opposed to the usual norm of using them sparsely, only where they are technically needed. The use of polysyndetons is primarily for adding dramatic effect as they have a strong rhetorical presence.

For example:
a) Saying “here and there and everywhere”, instead of simply saying “here, there and everywhere”.
b) “Marge and Susan and Anne and Daisy and Barry all planned to go for a picnic”, instead of “Marge, Susan, Anne, Daisy and Barry…” emphasizes each of the individuals and calls attention to every person one by one instead of assembling them as a group.

In literature, this device refers to the practice of joining together two or more words in order to create an entirely new word. This is often done in order to create a name or word for something by combining the individual characteristics of 2 or more other words.

1. The word “smog” is a portmanteau that was built combining “fog” and “smoke” and “smog” has the properties of both fog and smoke.
2. Liger= Lion + Tiger= A hybrid of the two feline species, possessing characteristics of both.

Spoonerism refers to the practice of interchanging the first letters of some words in order to create new words or even to create nonsensical words in order to create a humorous setting. While they are often unintentional and known as a “slip of the tongue”, in literature they are welcomed as witty word-play.

The phrase “flesh and blood” being spoken as a character as “blesh and flood” in urgency and heightened emotion.


  1. Asyndeton
    This poem, composition, literary creation, work of art, opus, is my way of expressing, corresponding, communicating, an Asyndeton, literary device. An Asyndeton explains, brings out, illustrates, reveals, manifests, the implied, indicated, constructive, meaning of the entire, absolute, total phrase. Asyndetons do not use word conjunctions, attachments, linkage, affiliations. With this compact, compressed, dense, word structure, the reader knows, is aware, of exactly what the author, creator, story-teller, writer, speaker, is trying, attempting, to say.

  2. Around about By Caleb Punt

    Air traveling past my vocal cords
    Which are constricting
    and loosening in a specific way
    Making words that have a purpose
    A purpose, I say
    To tell ideas in a
    Most confusing way
    Twirling your brain
    Filling the brain with pollution
    is the ever frustrating

  3. Aphorism Haiku by Josh Rayl

    Oh Aphorism
    short matter of fact statement
    Do not confuse me!

  4. Dr. Ox
    By: Jake Christopher Marsella

    Yo doc, I'm choking on this jumbo shrimp,
    I hope this doesn't interfere with my athletic scholarship.
    Hold on anxious patient I'm almost done,
    Had to clean a fine mess caused by that bum.
    Yo doc, are you almost ready?,
    I'm getting real tired trying to act naturally.
    Yes son we are now finally alone together,
    look out the window, it's awfully nice weather.
    Yo doc, it feelllss a bad inn da hhead,
    Minor crisis nurse, I'm afraid this boy is dead.

    1. Ok Jake, you DID do a pretty stellar job with this.

  5. Periphrasis talks too much

    is a boy in my class.
    I think he talks too much.
    Forever annoying,
    That boy talks and talks.
    It’s his face Id like to punch.

    Instead of just saying:
    “I fell off my bike,”
    He adds many words,
    And he is all like:

    “Four days ago,
    while riding my toy,
    I stubbed my toe
    And screamed “Oh boy!”
    I then saw a toad
    It caught my attention
    I swerved off the road
    And I have to mention
    That then a huge rock
    Appeared in my way
    It was a shock
    When I soon had to lay
    In the grass….”

  6. "Dat' Portmanteau"
    by Connor Grill

    So what is dat' you might ask.
    Well, let me inform.

    What dat is, is not the norm.
    Yous' would see what dat is
    If yous' only weren't a wiz.

    I aint' no nothing about where dat came about.
    All I knows' is I aint' goin' down that route.

    Oh so nows' you is confused.
    Do not worry I is too.
    And so is dat.

    Simply what dat' is
    Aint' nothing more then a dat.

    My dog and cat
    Now dats' what dat is.

    And dats' dat.
    Any more questions?

  7. The Complex Simplicity of the Oxymoron

    What is an oxymoron?
    It is this:
    Jumbo shrimp from the sea to your plate.
    the bitter sweet moments that compose your life
    that NFL player that sucks.
    that Olympian that was too slow, too uncordinated, too lazy.
    oxymoron...its the thing that describes life.
    life is a painfully delightful journey.
    it is the pains that uncovers true joy.
    it is the huge little eyes of an innocent child looking up at you.
    Life is the greatest example
    of the simply complex oxymoron.

  8. Portmanteau
    By: Molly Edwards

    Portmanteau is grool.
    It makes things quaster.
    By joining words
    to make them chillaxer.
    It just makes me want brunch.
    Or maybe some lunner.
    I feel like I have a blaccent,
    So I am going to be doneher.

  9. Oxymoron
    A fine mess this poem
    Is, I am a clever fool
    In my poetry

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  11. The ending to a never ending paradox

    Paradox, is the lightest feather that no one can pick up; Oh paradox, you are the father that raised me, yet the son I raised. A paradox is something too complex to comprehend, yet we manage to understand. A paradox is when in time, seconds have a longer time span than hours. Paradox, you cause order.

  12. Caesura

    This poem-sounds much more dramatic than it is.
    It would seem-to be deep and moving,
    but in reality-this is about absolutely nothing.
    That's right-nothing at all.
    Why so dramatic? Well-if I wasn't,
    You never would have read this far.
    So-the joke's on you!
    Caesura, o caesura, you work every time!
    These dramatic pauses you make-only trip up the reader's-
    little voice in their head.
    So-very-annoying, but always manage to
    make everyone think-this poem is deep.

  13. Cacophony
    By: Merianna Evans

    The woman screeched
    and wailed for support
    glaring at the spider
    cutting across the
    kitchen floor
    with it's hideously hairy legs
    and blistering, beady eyes.

  14. Asyndeton

    Nice, short, and simple
    That's how asyndeton works.
    It's fast, quick and, snappy
    but still gets all the perks.
    When you need to keep it brisk
    To get your point across
    Try using asyndeton
    Just like a 13oss.

  15. Oh Harmonious Oxymoron!
    by Nathan Blamick

    Oh Harmonious Oxymoron, you`re a severed link
    from the author to the reader
    You`re an affirming contradiction
    You`re a complete portion
    of literature

  16. A cacophony
    the word alone can make one tremble
    like they were scared by a loud crashing cymbal
    It tears at a persons ears
    the sounds are awful and they bring tears.

  17. Euphony

    Your soft and sweet words are pleasant to my ear.
    Always relaxing me when I hear you.
    Such pleasure to my soul are your lovely and light letters.
    It is as if your lavish and wispy words are a down pillow that give a whole nights rest to a tired mind.
    When I hear you, I am reminded of the cool and calm sea.
    One will always take pleasure in your sound, as if it is music to their soul.

  18. Cacophony

    I slam the big door
    I think of cacophony
    Bam, scratch, rattle, boom

  19. Paradox

    Driving in circles
    Doesn't make up a real sport
    Nascar, this means you