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Today I'm going to share a simple trick to infuse your poems with life and personality. The tip's very easy to grasp, effortless to employ, and works as consistently as whiskey. But, like whiskey, a little can go a long way!
In other words, there's potential danger in this tip, so consider yourself warned....
The gist of the tip is this: use people, particularly parts of people, to paint with in your poetry. This is a bit different from writing of poem about a person, or even writing about a part of a person as I did in my poem "Picasso's Eyes."
In this case, instead of writing directly about a person, we're going to use them as spice. For example:
"The Mozart night...."
"Tall as Lincoln's hat..."
You can also use people as verbs:
"Lebron-ed to victory... "
"Einstein-ed a fix... "
"Oprah-ed the crowd... "
This works with groups (or teams):
"Cursed as the Cubs... "
"Blind as the KKK... "
"Rich as the cast of.... "
You get the idea. Another really effective variation is to use something a person or group is know for wearing, having, or using, such as:
"Joan of Arc's sword... "
"Holmes's pipe... "
These are bland examples by design because I want to make a larger point, not distract you with my inventiveness. The more specific you can be, the better. So if you said "Brady's trophy" instead of "winner's trophy" it will carry all that legendary power.
If I wrote: "The wind whistled all afternoon" that's fairly poetic, but: "The wind McCartneyed all afternoon" is better. Assuming people still remember Paul McCartney! If it was stormy, you might say "Hendrixed."
But that's where you have to be careful, or you slip into irony. If you want to be ironic fine, but there's a danger here. For example, if I said: "I changed by tire with "Elon Musk precision," this can only be read humorously. Or you better get a better idea of what Elon Musk actually does, or at least purports to do.
You don't have to use famous people, either, but if you go "local" be sure to get enough of the person in so everyone gets the connotation. If you say, "the sky looked scary, like my friend Tammy when she gets mad" that has a much different impact than: "the sky looked like my dad after ten drinks."
The technical term for this is: personification. You're writing about an object, action, or quality as though it's a person. This is slightly different from anthropomorphism where you describe non-human or inanimate things as acting in human ways. As I said, the distinction is slight and may not even be meaningful, but it's there.
In my experience, this kind of personification has no limit. And it really draws people into a poem because, take a look around, what people are interested in is ... people.
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