This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Week 2: Poems are relationships (October 8-October 14) [Oct. 8, 2011, 8:39 a.m.]

Metaphors are a basic unit or building block of poems, and simply put, metaphors are comparisons. The best ones draw relationships between unexpected elements--for instance, J. Allyn Rosser’s characterization of popcorn as “edible jazz.” Another aspect of successful metaphors is that they draw connection between the concrete (trains in the harbor, the sea)--and abstract (death, love, time).

It’s a delicate balance.  Poems with too many abstract terms can feel vague.  Part of a poet’s mastery is their ability to balance the abstract and the concrete--to make connections that feel accessible yet magical or strange.  

Task 1: Metaphor making
Take any word and make a comparison. Reconstitute the word in a metaphorical way. Here’s an example.

Calories (noun) - Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.” --via Grouchy Rabbit:

Task 2: Take a poem--either the same one from last week or a new one--and choose one word from the poem.  Tease out a metaphor for that word in the same spirit of your poem. It can be as short as the calorie definition (above) or can be the whole poem.  Tracy and I will provide examples in our posts.

Please try to post by Tuesday, October 11th.

Keep in mind the criteria that we've decided make a poem "work." This is a googledoc that we can all edit.  Please do make any adjustments and refinements to it this week.


Next Steps:

1.) Make a comparison

2.) Find a poem, locate a word in in and make a metaphor in the spirit of the poem.  It can be as long as the original poem or short.

3.) Hack the rubric--it's in an open googledoc

Take it further: some resources to look at for deeper questioning of the topic