3 Ways to Use Alliteration

by Ellen Gwin

What is alliteration?
Alliteration is the repetition of consonants (and sometimes vowels) at the beginning of two or more consecutive words. 

What about consonance and assonance?
Consonance is the repetition of solely consonants throughout consecutive words. These words can go at the beginning or in the middle of a word. 
Assonance is the repetition of solely vowels throughout consecutive words. These words can go at the beginning or middle of a word. 

1.To set the mood
Different sounds are linked with different connotations; one can use this concept to their advantage in poetry.
For Example:
S’s bring about a mood that feels whispered and intimate (or a snake-like)
H’s to makes the poem sound soft, hushed, or breathy 
R’s sound “French” and romantic (or like pirates)
B’s & P’s seem to boom or pop out loudly

2. Because it sounds pleasant
The repetition of consonants (or in some cases, vowels) sounds pleasing to the ear. This is because it provides a sense of rhythm to the poem and indicates how it should be read. This provided rhythm allows the reader to feel more closely connected to the work.
For Example:
The bumbling bear bellowed behind a beehive.
Slither snakes spoke of sinister stories.
Fiddling foxes found refuge in Finland.

3. To grab readers’ attention
One can use alliteration to simply draw attention to a specific set of alliterative words or
One can use alliteration to draw attention to themes throughout your poem through the use of alliteration at key moments with similar ideas in mind. 

Doing What We Can to Get By As Flies

by Ellen Gwin

God could eat an orange whole: skin, seeds, juices and all. 
God could knock the fruit from the only branch and into the unknown.
God could create bruises that would never heal. 
God could scatter seeds so endless oranges to inhabit would grow

Or God could let the several titian fruits on the tree decay into chaos,
Where flies become lords but on a disintegrating orb
That’s honestly starting to reek.
Oh yes, God could do many things, but who knows? Not we. 

As the sunshines harder, the fruit rots more yet I cannot help but smile
The juices are fermented enough to get drunk off of…
Perhaps these string-y fibers would make a lovely scarf?
I’m Ellen in the giant orange and I guess this is my home.

3 Ways to Use Personification in Poetry

By Ellen Gwin

Definition:
Personification is the act of giving human characteristics (such as speech, actions, emotions, thought) to something that is not human (animals, insects, objects, abstract concepts etc.).

Different uses for personification:
This poetic device can spruce up internal monologue poems, give life to a setting, make images more vivid, create a deeper emotional connection, and for many other entertaining reasons.
Personification can also help readers understand the abstract/intangible concepts a writer is trying to get across.

1.Take the Viewpoint of the Object
Make the speaker take the viewpoint of the object. Give this object thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. 
For example:
Use a mirror or a painting to discuss beauty.
Teapot to discuss family generations.
Use a blanket to discuss comfort. 
etc. 

2. Make Multiple Objects Speak
Place your speaker in a setting (a forest, a bedroom, a library) and make the objects speak to their reader.
The objects could express their thoughts/opinions, give advice, discuss memories, etc.

3. Use Personification for Abstract Concepts
One could create a character/creature to embody the idea of love, fear, time, etc. 
Examples can be found in:
Greek Mythology, Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away, etc. 

3 Steps to Writing an Allegorical Poem

By Ellen Gwin

Allegorical Poetry:
An allegorical poem is a poem that holds two meanings: one should be able to read the poem for both a literal and a symbolic meaning. In literature, allegories typically fall with three categories: religious, political, or historical.

What’s the difference between an allegory and an extended metaphor?
In an allegory, all characters, places and objects become linked with figurative symbolism within the extended metaphor. It’s kind of like creating an alternate universe with rules linked to rules of the reality of your story (religious event, political event, historical event, etc).

Examples:
Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene
George Orwell’s Animal Farm
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Emily Dickinson’s poem 479
Dante’s Divine Comedy

Step 1: Choose your idea
Whether it be morality, religion, politics, a historical event: choose an idea to model your symbolic story after.

Step 2: Plan out the literal story first
Who are important figures related to your chosen idea?
What are important events related to your chosen idea?
Where are important settings related to your chosen idea?

Step 3: Create your surface story
Create a surface story (the alternate universe) that you can easily find correlations with.
The story can be set in a different time period, a fantasy universe, on a smaller scale (i.e. a family to represent a country), etc.

3 Ways to Incorporate Allusions into Poems

By Ellen Gwin

1. Mimicry

Mimic rhythms or structures

Use Shakespeare’ iambic pentameter
Write a Spenserian sonnet
Mimic a poem/pieces of a larger work as a whole
For example: I modeled a poem after a famous speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

My teeth are decaying, rotting from the inside out. Years of swallowing bile laced confabulations finally decomposed the nerves within and made me numb to my next glass of gin. Bitter and crude but honest I am, no one deigns to come near my foul speaking breath. In solitude but not alone, I let my words flow. 

Friends, Americans, Countrymen lend me your nose. I come to bury “fresh breath,” not to praise it. The evil that one hides will always leak out; the good is often found in brutal honesty. So let it rest with fresh breath. Let those around me be solely filled with stinky sighs. 

Oh but the judgement! Those painted with bruised lips have lost their reason; the pain is not worth the infliction. Bear with me; I do not prefer the stench of bad breath but I must give pause to “fresh breath” in the name of sincerity. 

Mimic plot, characters, background stories, or other ideas

10 Things I Hate About You is modeled after Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

Model a character after a historical or literary figure:
Either choose one of your own accord or look into archetypes such as Magicians (Merlin, Harry Potter), Creators (gods, scientists), Femme Fatales (Lilith, Circe), etc.
Use literary/historical references as the background for your poem/story
Allude to similar ideas regarding religion, morality, politics, etc.

2. Make References

Paraphrase a quote
Shakespeare said, “These violent delights have violent ends.”
To reference it in your own writing, one could say, “They say all chaotic good brings about chaotic events.”

Compare a character/event to a literary/historical figure/event
Model a character after the infamous Mussolini; make them speak harshly and shortly with chutzpah
Model a character after Duessa in Spenser’s Faerie Queene: give them a nature of duality and deception.

Use literary/historical symbols
An apply to symbolize sin
A lotus to symbolize Buddhism
A guillotine to symbolize revolution

3. Read through your poem for associations

For example:
If you’re writing about a garden maybe make a reference to the Garden of Eden or Ophelia.
If you’re writing about the ocean maybe reference Poseidon, Varuna, rebirth, or Ulysses.
If you’re writing about heaven maybe reference Mount Olympus, archangels, or John Milton.

My Daydreams

by Ellen Gwin

Raspberries in rich cream sitting on silver plates while angels promenade around a whimsical garden. 
Human-like creatures with golden eyes and fiery dispositions drinking Cabernet Sauvignons that resembles blood a little too much. 
Crystal from Czech full of peony petals spilling and over the lavender carpets and floating with the movement of those in skirts.
Delicate hands dancing while feet clumsily find their way to maneuver with a partner. 
Candles on antique sticks dripping onto maple tables velvet chairs tickling my bare thighs.
Pearls and opalites kept in ornate boxes while rosaries and aquamarine dangle from a beaded bonsai tree.
Bumblebees making geometric honeycombs in willow trees living in sweet harmony with kissing butterflies.

Mood Board Poems

A tactic for overcoming writer’s block by Ellen Gwin

Mood board poems are a tool I invented (I think) to help poets stimulate their senses, get in touch with their subconscious, and seek inspiration.

Mood board poems typically do not hold a lot of depth or emotional weight– they’re typically more akin to aesthetic writing.

Symbols that occur in mood board poems are meant to be accidental or natural, not placed or overthought.

One can use this tool to create poems or seek inspiration for other poems.

  1. Stimulate the five senses
    Sight, smell, sound, and touch
    For a breakdown on stimulating the senses please click here
  2. Search for inspiration
    Go back through and connect ideas that did not seem purposeful before.
    Then go back and delete ideas/words/phrases that ended up not fitting in
    Once finished, read the poem to find out what theme/topic/idea has been nagging at you to write

Here’s an example of a mood poem by me

My Daydreams by Ellen Gwin
Raspberries in rich cream sitting on silver plates while angels promenade around a whimsical garden. 
Human-like creatures with golden eyes and fiery dispositions drinking Cabernet Sauvignons that resembles blood a little too much. 
Crystal from Czech full of peony petals spilling and over the lavender carpets and floating with the movement of those in skirts.
Delicate hands dancing while feet clumsily find their way to maneuver with a partner. 
Candles on antique sticks dripping onto maple tables velvet chairs tickling my bare thighs.
Pearls and opalites kept in ornate boxes while rosaries and aquamarine dangle from a beaded bonsai tree.
Bumblebees making geometric honeycombs in willow trees living in sweet harmony with kissing butterflies.

In this poem, I used foods to stimulate taste and smell while using whimsical imagery inspired by a garden party in the 19th century to stimulate sight and sound.
From this poem, I realized I had the nature of “good VS evil” on my mind through references I made to angels and blood.
From here, I decide to write poems that use fruit as a vehicle for discussing heaven and hell.

5 Tips to Write More Throughout the Week

By Ellen Gwin

  1. Carry a Pocket Sized Notebook
    Write while you’re in transportation or other small breaks
    When you randomly get inspiration
    To quickly jot down a phrase or observation to return to later
    Etc.
  2. Seek inspiration in supposedly mundane places
    Routine: hair, driving, work
    Art you see daily
    Uniforms
    Weather
    Photos/videos on social media
  3. Let writing be relaxing
    Heat up a some tea and take the time to write
    Make a snack plate and eat while writing
    Paint your toenails while you write
    Go for a stroll and bring a small notepad
    Etc.
  4. Read in the morning and plan what you’ll write in your head throughout the day
    Read prompts, definitions, about certain symbols, etc.
  5. Set aside 30 minutes just for writing right before an activity
    Before a shower, bed, work, breakfast, etc.
  6. Mostly importantly, allow yourself to breathe
    For some, writing daily is a great habit to get into but if it’s causing stress then it’s not the writing tactic for you! Always make sure your hobbies and passions are enjoyable.

Parisian Escape

by Ellen Gwin

Crouching in the corner of a neglected attic, I listen the sounds of honking cars, of clicking heels, of whispered pardons and marvel at the simplicity of daily encounters. 

The erratic scents rise to the top floor window like dough in the oven and fuming cigarettes mingling with the rancid smell of piss allusive to escape from innocence. 

As I run my fingers over the grooves of splintered floors I find spots left untouched, covered in dust, beckoning my inquiry. Averting my gaze, I return to the haze.

Men sing loudly, and often terribly, with circus-like accordions imploring each passerby to hesitate within their promenade long enough to reach into their pocket and flip an ill-fated coin.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

by Ellen Gwin

Writer’s block is nothing to be embarrassed about. Whether it’s been a day or a year, it happens to everyone! Fear not, cures exist.

  1. Make Pinterest mood boards of photos that inspire you

2. Read philosophy, allegorical literature, or really anything

I like to read some classic Aristotle/Plato/Socrates but also Nietzsche, Descartes, and Kant.

Some allegorical literature includes Faerie Queene, Animal Farm, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and The Little Prince.

3. Listen to music with no lyrics

This can be classical music, jazz, techno, acoustic, etc.

Either try to come up with lyrics to the song or just forget about words completely and vibe out.

4. Engage with the world around you

Go on a walk, hang out with friends, call your mom, get out of your head.

5. Bounce ideas off a friend

Sometimes it helps to get the juices flowing but sometimes it just helps to think out loud.

6. Writing anything and everything that comes to your mind for 10 minutes

Even if it’s “bad.”