Happy Poetry Friday and howdy to all February Picture Book Marathoners! You can do it, you can do it--you can, you can!
Similes. Metaphors. You know them well.
Similes compare two unlike objects using "like" or "as": That dog is like a lump of clay--he never chases balls.
Metaphors, in contrast, don't: That dog, a lump of clay, never chases balls. Or simply, That lump of clay never chases balls.
Eli being a lump of clay."Metaphor" sounds like someone saying, "May the Force," doesn't it? (It does if you tilt your head sideways and sing LALALA really loudly...) Their force, their power can create vivid images in our minds.
When I was writing It's Not My Turn To Look For Grandma!, my editor asked me to clarify that the story starts at sunrise and ends at sundown. I had no idea how to communicate this without being too wordy or clunkily obvious. I was actually pretty frightened.
I flailed about. My flailing is not pretty. Want to see what it looks like close up? This Monday I had a boatload of writing to do in the afternoon. But first I had to have lunch--I mean, c'mon. Since I was a little lost and didn't quite know how to start any of the projects looming over me, another helping of veggies and rice seemed like a jolly good idea and oh, that left-over clam chowder sure looked yummy.
I was too lazy to actually stand up and walk to my bookshelf (sometimes I'm inspired by the pattern or subject of other poems). There was a lemon next to my computer because I'd picked it from our tree and meant to drop it off in the kitchen but brought it into my office instead.
Not to make those of you shivering under snow jealous or anything, but this is our Meyer lemon tree right this very minute.A lemon. Hmmm. So I wrote a poem about the lemon. That lemon saved my day.
But back to my book and how to show time passing. I flailed (picture a woman with eight arms, frantically waving them in all directions--yeah, that's me...). I think I did some brainstorming. Or maybe I opened the refrigerator and took out an egg. I don't remember. The key is that in the middle of this kind of panic, I know one thing: I've got to keep my eyes and ears open to any gifts the universe may be giving me.
I made a hard boiled egg.
My mind began to play. What if the sun were an egg? This turned into my scaffolding upon which I could hang time passing. Here's what I sprinkled throughout the story:
- Dawn was just cracking over the hills.
- Noon was sizzling like an egg in a cast-iron pan.
- Afternoon clouds scrambled in the sky.
- Shadows were eating up the day.
No one notices this as they are reading the book. But it helped me stop flailing and begin writing.
Are you flailing? Maybe the Writing Workout below will help.
Writing Workout ~ Metaphors and Similes
In the poem below, I used the metaphor of war. There are battle images in each stanza. Which are similes? Which are metaphors?
by April Halprin Wayland
My sister and I are pushing a big aluminum tub
across our brick patio to the grass
sounding like a tank rolling towards war.
I hold the hose and she turns the spigot.
Water thunders into the tub like a drum roll
filling it up.
we find him trembling behind bushes,
We pull our prisoner across the yard,
his head down,
his paws gripping the passing grass;
then, my sister, because she is older,
lifts him above the tub...
and with a long sigh, he surrenders.
This poem was included in the book, Poems for Brothers, Poems for Sisters selected by Myra Cohn Livingston (Holiday House, 1988)
Once you have a few fresh ideas, pick one and write a poem or start a picture book. Dive in--and metaphors be with you!
poem, drawings and photos of our lemon tree and of Eli on the love seat (c) April Halprin Wayland