By- Angela Padrón
April is National Poetry Month! Students and teachers take time not only to study famous poets and poems, but also various types of poems and techniques used by poets. Here are just a few methods used by poets to create their masterpieces:
Rhyming is the most obvious poetic technique used. It helps to make poems flow. Poems do not have to rhyme, however; there are many poems that are free verse—a style that allows poets the flexibility to write their thoughts and ideas without the constraint of following a particular rhyming pattern. There are several different rhyming patterns and schemes. Which one a poet uses will depend on the topic, style, and theme of the poem.
Repetition involves repeating a line or a word several times in a poem. Poets use this to emphasize a point, to bring attention to a particular item or theme, to achieve a particular effect, or to provoke an emotional reaction from the reader.
Onomatopoeia is not an easy word to say or spell, but it is one of the most fun and common techniques used in poetry. Onomatopoeia is simply the use of a word that imitates a sound, like bam, crash, boom, splash. Words like these appeal to the reader’s senses and bring the reader into the poem.
Alliteration involves the use of two or more words that begin with the same sound. For example, “The drizzling, drippy drain drove me crazy.” Alliteration is a great way to grab the reader’s attention at a particular moment in the poem. It also provides the poet an opportunity to describe things in a creative way that is memorable to the reader.
Assonance is when vowel sounds are repeated in two or more words that are close to each other in the poem and have different consonants. An example of this would be “The octopus flopped on the cot – kerplop!” Several words in the example contain the short “o” sound, but the words contain different consonants.
Similes are a type of figurative language that compare an object, person, or event to something else. They help readers to better understand the characteristics of something by showing a relationship between the two things. Similes use the words “like” or “as” in the comparison, such as “The dog ran as fast as a race car.” Or “His words cut through my heart like a knife.”
Like similes, metaphors show the relationship or commonality between two objects or actions. Unlike similes, however, metaphors do not contain the words “like” or “as” in the comparison. In addition, metaphors describe the object or action in a non-literal way. In other words, metaphors equate two objects or actions just for the sake of comparing, even though the two things are not literally the same. Some examples of metaphors would be “The shark’s teeth were daggers ripping through flesh.” Or “Her hair was a winding path of intrigue.”
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration in a text. This can be used for emphasis or humor, such as “He practiced for a million hours.”
Symbolism is when a poet uses objects, colors, sounds, or places to represent something else. For instance, snakes are often associated with evil, while white doves are related to peace.
These are only a few of the techniques that have been used by poets past and present. They provide a wide variety of options for a poet to develop a unique style while expressing his or her thoughts and ideas to readers. The next time you read a poem, see how many techniques you can identify!