Tuesday Tryouts: Your Metaphor

22 Feb

9:05, Tuesday – Atlanta

I was going to start a new series of exercises with dialogue poems, but wrote a metaphor poem last week, in response to a We Write Poems prompt, that I enjoyed so much and feel is too good an exercise not to share.

By: doraelia ruiz


The first thing you need to do is visit the original poem on which I based mine, N. Scott Momaday’s “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee“. I will post mine below, so you don’t have to leave the page a second time.

Jot a list of qualities you associate with yourself. Next to each quality write things you associate with that quality.

from microsoft


Patience: turtle, stone, the colour grey, glaciers…they are your associations so don’t worry if others might think them odd. You will only have the metaphors, in the end.

Pick the ones you like and write a line beginning with I am + the thing you are + a place, or action, or time. That will be much clearer on reading the two examples. You want specific images, sensory associations where possible.

Once I had about fifteen lines, I rearranged them in an order that made sense to me, and read well. I eliminated a couple of lines that didn’t ring true, or didn’t fit. Finally I figured out how to end my poem, because following Momaday for his ending would have been difficult.


from microsoftMy Delight Song

I am the words I write
I am a dragon swimming the ocean’s depths
I am a stone waiting to be picked up
I am a stand of evergreen bamboo
I am a grain of dust carried on the wind
I am the smoke of incense spiraling skyward
I am a cloud through which the sun shines
I am the border between night and day
I am the red berries of the winter ash
I am the grey heron hunched against the cold
I am the cry of a train in the night
I am a photograph fading out of focus
I am a scrap of paper left as a bookmark
I am a fingerprint on the minds of students
I am all these things and
I am the words I write.

After “The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee,” by N. Scott Momaday

Enjoy and do post a link in comments, so I can enjoy too. Thursday will be Revision: Verbs and Nouns and I know you won’t want to miss that! Friday is our roundup of sites. Next Tuesday will be Dialogue Poems.


Posted by on 22/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: Your Metaphor

  1. poetrydiary

    22/02/2011 at 1:33 pm

    I do like the cry of a train in the night and the fingerprint on the minds especially. A lovely ensemble altogether.

  2. margo roby

    22/02/2011 at 1:53 pm

    Thank you, Matthew. Once I started, I had fun having to look at myself and pin down some things.

  3. neil reid

    22/02/2011 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you Margo. Not just for the poem, which I do like rather much, but also for the refinement upon our We Write Poems prompt. As a frequent spoon in the pot for prompts at WWP I am sensitive to precisely how a prompt-question is posed. My general leaning is towards making prompts more broad, more open to the many possible minds/experiences that will be considering it. (I like to be surprised!) But it is equally valid that sharpening the edge can suggest good guidance too. Thus my appreciation here!

    The best prompt I’ve ever been given was “write in a manner you’ve never done before”. I carry that with me still, whether or not always realized poem by poem, it is the mountain I yet see on the horizon and who I want to be.

    And thanks for what you bring to the greater poem writing community. ~Neil

  4. margo roby

    22/02/2011 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you, Neil. We Write Poems and Big Tent are my two favourite prompt sources because they offer more guidance, but in such a way that they open things up. That allows me more room to move around and is more likely to spark an idea.

    What you say about the prompt you carry around with you is the same thing that pushes me to conquer the different forms. I have had a ghazal on my plate for longer than I care to remember and almost have my brain wrapped around it…almost. But that’s my mountain.

    Thank you for your compliment. I appreciate it greatly.


  5. James

    22/02/2011 at 6:46 pm

    I like this delight song, especially the photograph fading out of focus. Motion in what is still. Very nice.

  6. margo roby

    22/02/2011 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you, James. This is some of the most fun I have had with imagery.

  7. Mary

    23/02/2011 at 7:31 am

    Margo, I love all of your images describing yourself. It must have been a fun mental challenge to come up with them.

    • margo roby

      23/02/2011 at 9:23 am

      Hi Mary. It was a lot of fun. I think it’s an exercise I may try every so often to see if I change [and because I need the practice!].

  8. pamela

    23/02/2011 at 5:14 pm

    Margo, I am going to give this a try.
    I like this exercise.


  9. pamela

    23/02/2011 at 5:16 pm

    Oops! Love your poem 🙂

  10. margo roby

    23/02/2011 at 5:22 pm

    Lol! Thank you, Pamela. Do come back and leave me a link. I would love to see what you come up with.


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