Some people experience one of more of the five senses involuntarily, when one sense evokes another. They hear music and see a colour or they associate inanimate objects with colours or tastes. Synaesthesia is defined as occurring when stimulation of one sensory modality automatically triggers perception in a second sensory modality. For example, numbers, letters, words, days of the week and musical tones may trigger a certain colour, taste, smell or shape.
Poets can use this to advantage by using synaesthetic metaphors by mixing the senses … Her voice tasted of caramel … orange is a loud colour … celery smells cold and wet, etc.
WRITE SHORT POEMS USING SYNAESTHESIA, IN ANSWERING THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
What do stars sound like? – Example: Stars sound like tiny silver bells around the legs of dancing fairies. Or – A star sounds like a baby breathing; like an unexpected kiss on the nape of the neck.
How does sunlight smell?
What does fear taste like?
What does autumn sound like?
What is the texture of love?
Describe colour of music from a cello/violin/flute (choose one)?
How does standing in a rainbow feel?
What colour is a smile?
What does chocolate sound like?
The desert sparks with magic,
like a great hunk of flint,
rubbed by gusts of hot wind.
When darkness sets in
each star awakes and begins
to ring its tiny silver bell.
The night sky is breathing
down on me, caramel smooth
and full of fire music. Jude Aquilina
Related to figurative language (metaphor and imagery) but imbued with differing distinctive features; the most important characteristic of the symbol is that it is a concrete image or reality that means much more than itself and stands in the place of some idea, belief or abstraction that is usually recognisable. Its central significance and power in poetry lies in this hidden meaning. The cross, for examples, that stands for Christianity; the dove for peace, the red rose for love; scales for justice; a bird for freedom. The poet writes about one thing but points to or suggests another.
Symbolism in poetry magnifies, intensifies and surprises but unlike tis relatives, imagery and metaphor, it has more to do with intellectualising an image than with heightening emotion.
No symbols can claim exclusively. They can and do have different meanings. For example different cultural groups may use the same symbols but they may stand for different things. In some societies the colour red symbolises war and violence. In China, however, red represents good luck and marriage. That road out of town stood for freedom. She’d watch local cars, like flies on a sticky strip of tar trying to escape.
EXERCISE ONE: Think of your wardrobe past and present – choose an item of clothing that is redolent with symbolism: and old leather jacket, a bridesmaid’s outfit, a work shirt, a pair of boots. Write a short poem with the item as the title.
EXERCISE TWO: Write a poem about how a tool, instrument or workplace item is a symbol of a person or of the trade. (Guitar/rock star/phallic/sex …Needle/precise/mending/hiding)
EXERCISE THREE: Use a landmark as a symbol. For example a mountain, river, lighthouse, dry paddock, cliff face, lake, the sea, waterfall, etc. Invent a person and write a poem about how this place is a symbol to them – or how it symbolised them.
What was in an old aunt’s handbag, your father’s briefcase, top drawer, old trunk, wooden box, etc.? Describe the contents in a thoughtful, poetic way. Think about what emotion you could bring into the poem.
Handbag by Ruth Fainlight
My mother's old leather handbag,
crowded with letters she carried
all through the war. The smell
of my mother's handbag: mints
and liptsick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened
and worn at the edges, opened,
read, and refolded so often.
Letters from my father. Odour
of leather and powder, which ever
since then has meant womanliness,
and love, and anguish, and war.
Write five similes of metaphors for the night sky
(includes stars, moon, milky way, comets, etc)
The night sky is a velvet cloak covered in sequins
The night sky is a wet panther, glistening
The moon is a toenail clipping
The stars are sand on the black beach of sky
End the poem with something about you and the night sky
The night sky is my mother, tucking me in to bed
The night sky is sea for my dreams to swim in
Make the night sky, the moon and the weather work for you in poetry or prose. Set the scene with a simile or metaphor and you will have the reader right there with you.
From ‘ Rendezvous’ by Jude Aquilina
Oh retro moon, why do you hang
like a ‘70s lampshade
dusty with memories?
I’ve followed you for years
crept from bedrooms
through long grass and shadows
to meet you over fences, under gum trees…
compiled by Jude Aquilina
Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking. John Wain
The two most engaging powers of a poet are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new. W. M. Thackeray
Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what was seen during that moment. Carl Sandburg
A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. W. H. Auden
Prose is words in their best order; poetry is the best words in the best order. Samuel Tayler Coleridge
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club! Jack London
What is written without effort is generally read without pleasure. Samuel Johnson
Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open Anon
Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators. Shakespeare
I have only made this letter longer because I have not had time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal
Every style that is not boring is a good one. Voltaire
A sense of humour is the pole which helps us to walk the tight-rope of life. Anon
A poet is a person who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin. Edmond de Concourt
Poetry is the access to the dream mind. Les Murray
I enjoy writing poetry. It feels as if there are no limits or restrictions. I don’t have to control or sensor my imagination. It feels indulgent, like spending the day in and out of a hot bubble bath. I feel annoyed when I have to stop writing, get out of the bath and go to work ... Evette Wolf, TAFE student
Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. Christopher Fry
You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you. Joseph Joubert
Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. Adrian Mitchell
The unfinished is nothing. Henri Frederic Amiel
Tip 1: Give your character an unusual feature, habit or saying, or liken them to something, such as an animal. You might say he was strong and bovine, then comment on the veins standing out on his neck. Later he might stamp his foot and bellow in rage. Simply by mentioning an unusual feature you are creating a mental image for your readers.
Tip 2: Ensure that the reader knows who is telling the story – whose viewpoint is put across – as early as possible in each scene. If your character has internal dialogue/thoughts, then the reader will know the story is being told by that character.
Tip 3: Mention character names a little more frequently early in the story. Choose names that suit the era and place the person is born. Use the internet to find the most common name for each era – you can even find lists of names for fantasy or science fiction characters. Be sure to make the names pronounceable (readers like to ‘say’ the names in their heads). Avoid too many names in the same story that begin with the same letter.
Tip 4: Give an early and brief description of your character. Don’t over-describe the character at the beginning, however give the reader some defining features so they can form an image in their mind. Give the reader enough for a 'first impression' in looks and personality.
Tip 5: Whose story is it? If one of your secondary characters appeals to you more, and is 'taking over the story', you might have chosen the wrong protagonist. Or you might decide to tell the story with multiple points of view. Some novels contain many characters’ points of view.
Tip 6: Don't reveal everything about your character in the beginning. Leave room for the character to grow; for the reader to become curious, and for you to get to know him/her. Interesting character information to reveal as the story progresses are dreams, memories, lessons learnt as a child, mistakes make, wishes, regrets, fears, idiosyncrasies, collections, etc.
Tip 7: Know each character's motivation for action. If the reasons for your character's actions and thoughts are not clear to you, the writer, then you will probably find your character doing or saying things that are not believable. Character motivation comes from within – and from the external events that have formed that character over the years. The character's actions will be a result of both internal and external motivation. Give yourself time to really understand your character.
Tip 8: Give your characters inner conflict. Allow your character to be pulled two ways, to explore the options, to make wrong decisions and to sometimes feel despair at having no acceptable options.
Tip 9: Base characters on a combination of people that you know or have met in real life. A character can often be a blend of many people. Feel free to use the stories, backgrounds and character traits of many different people. If you write about something that a real person did, it will come across as authentic.
Tip 10: A character’s dialogue reflects their background, age, education, social status and place of origin. If your character has distinctive dialogue traits, you can almost eliminate the use of speech tags. Think about using favourite words, sayings, nicknames, mispronounced words, etc. for your main characters’ dialogue.
Tip 11: No character is all good or all bad. Give your antagonists some endearing qualities and make your protagonists human enough to make mistakes, have dark secrets or a bad habit.
Tip 12: Dedicate a note-book to your main character. I like the little A-Z ones, then note down everything you can think of about them, from childhood and relatives to the time they appear in your story. You may not use it all, but merely thinking about all aspects of your character will make them stronger in your story-telling.