8:25 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to Sweet Baby James by James Taylor
Hello! I enjoyed the pieces that came out in response to last week’s narrative prompt, and even more, the fun you seemed to be having. Today we shall continue our reveling in metaphor. Remember what I said about metaphor:
A metaphor provides the identification of two unlike things. X=Y. The two things are not being compared, one to the other; the two things are each other. Metaphor comes from the Greek metafora: to transfer to. When using a metaphor, you are transferring the properties of one thing to another. “Juliet is the sun”. Not Juliet is like the sun, hot, bright, yellow… but Juliet IS the sun, the centre of Romeo’s universe, the giver of life and nurture.
Today’s exercises are a lot of fun. Do as many as you wish. Make your own versions up. When I do these, I find it easier to write prose first. Then I look for the line breaks and work the prose into a poem. You may either write and leave in prose, write and work into a poem, or write straight into poetry [you wild poemers, you]. Whichever you do, post for us to read.
One thing you will notice and wonder about is how an audience is supposed to know what your metaphor is about. Remember that in writing fiction, an author has context into which he places the metaphor. Readers don’t stop and wonder what the heck is going on. They know the relationship is a sunset, and why. For your pieces, add the short bit that describes the exercise, if you want.
1] Describe a body of water as seen by a teenager contemplating suicide. Do not mention death, suicide, or the teenager doing the seeing.
2] Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just died in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing.
3] Describe the night as seen by a young (wo)man whose first child has just been born. Do not mention birth, children, or the parent doing the seeing.
4] Describe a bridge as seen by a middle-aged adult who just can’t seem to do well in her job. Do not mention the job, or the adult doing the seeing.
5] Describe a forest, or some other natural scene, as seen by a woman whose detested husband has just died [yes, you can switch genders]. Do not mention the husband, the death, or the woman doing the seeing.
The tricky part is not sounding cliché, but that is also the addictive part of playing with these.
I have a draft of one that is on its way from the initial freewrite to a possible poem. The exercise works well if you set yourself a time. Choose one. Set the timer for twelve minutes and write. I find the time limit keeps me from overthinking and pulls out some things my rational brain might not offer. In response to the first:
Blue silk ripples beckon with white
fingers. Slender white fingers curve
and motion as water circles my ankles
surrounding me, pulling me in with her arms,
pulling me in. Ceaseless shudders and slaps
of wavelets, the murmurs ceaseless. The water
sucks greedily, waiting; she said she would
wait. Draining, straining, the white fingers
beckon; water pulls greedily and I see
long hair tangling; pond weed catches,
pulls, holds forever. Water reaches, pulls
me in enfolding, holding, ceaseless.
On that cheerful note, I shall leave you until next Tuesday when the Tryout will be a narrative exercise based on an image. Those who celebrate Thanksgiving, have a wonderful time. The rest of you can have a wonderful time, too.
Happy writing, everyone.