Poetry Craft Lessons: Poetic Devices and More

Lesson: Focus: The Poet’s Craft–imagery and description
The Fabulous Realities of the World

Skill Focus: Using Imagery

  1. Creating Images or series of images that help the reader experience what you experienced. Go for the total effect of your words. Put them in the scene. How to do this:
    • Appeal to the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and more.

    Create strong images with specific language. For example, my friend wobbled down the street is more vivid than using the verb ran. What other strong verbs could be used in that sentence to create a picture?

  2. Imagery a definition and discussion
    Shrinking For Details
  3. Making your images amazing! Which images are better? Word guessing exercise: Words as Paint reading poems to find sensory details
  4. Experiment with imagery:
    • list some strong, vivid verbs that create an image. Look up them up in a thesaurus and see what other verbs you can add to your Poet’s Wordbank list.
    • Find more precise adjectives using color words. What other words could be used in place of blue, for example. Look in your thesaurus for color word options. Add them to your Poet’s Wordbank list.
    • Check a thesaurus for synonyms for: mad, silly, glowing, rapid, pleasant. Add the best words to your Poet’s Wordbank.

Example poems using imagery

Adding On to Your Skill: Verb Choices and Concrete Language

Now You Try:

  1. Swift Things Are Beautiful,”  Use this poem as a starter for a poem of your own. Ideas are listed after the poem copy.
  2. Poetry from Portraits. Directions.
  3. View From a Window, poem directions.
  4. In a Station of the Metro,” Ezra Pound.
  5. List poem: poems from the Japanese Pillow Book
  6. From Love That Dog & Modeled after William Carlos Williams’  “The Red Wheelbarrow” with a graphic organizer to help you get going.
  7. Poem based on a color, following the example of Walter De La Mer’s “Silver.” What does a color you have chosen make you feel, what is it like?
  8. Snake,” a Theodore Roethke poem with sensory imagery that you can model your poem after.
  9. Write a list poem.

Student example: “Broken Moonlight

Lesson: Other Poetry Forms: Poetry about Art,  Place

Colors show mood: Live Science article

Writing about art: Example poems:

  1. Archaic Torso of Apollo, Rilke.
  2. Cutting the Sun,” Chitra Devikaruni.
  3. Recalling a Sung Dynasty Landscape,”  Jane Hirschfield.
  4. “The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest,” by Ryszard Krynicki translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles.
  5. Art and poetry Paintings and poems written about them
  6. Poems of Address

Writing in response to a painting or photo: 


Word choice:  Your job is to find the best words for each line of the poem. Poets rarely settle for the first words they put down.  Use a thesaurus sometimes to find the best word.  Try different words, listening for the way they change the poem’s effect.  Sometimes you need to let the poem sit for a bit and then come back to it to find the right word. Don’t settle for a good word when a bit more work and thought can get you the just right word that makes the scene come alive. This might take time, but it lets you speak from your heart about your subject.

Ideas to get you going:
Moonrise in New Zealand, a video of an amazing full moon rising over the landscape.

Lesson: The Poet’s Craft–Sound & Poetic Devices

Sound as an important feature in poetry:

  1. Sound awareness: “Night Songs,” Molly Jordan
  2. The Listener,” Walter De La Mare and another version and one more
  3.  “Wind,” by Ted Hughes
  4. Swift Things Are Beautiful,” Elizabeth Cotsworth
  5. Night Songs,” Molly Jordan
  6. Pleasant Sounds,” John Clare

Sound as a Major Emotional Driver  an NPR audio exploration of how sound affects us

Definitions of Poetic Devices Related to Emphasizing Sound:


  1. Alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia: See here.
  2. Alliteration, assonance, consonance exercise
  3. Alliteration & assonance exercise
  4. Poetic terms related to sound: alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia
  5. Alliteration in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells
  6. Alliteration and Assonance

OnomatopoeiaOnomatopoeia definition with examples from:

Poems related to music:

Writing in response to music:

Music affects mood, research shows.

Now You Try: Chose from the ideas below and write a poem where you play with and focus on an awareness of sound elements in a poem.


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