Classic Poet’s Corner

A Lesson in Personification

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Personification is the party animal of the poetic devices. It takes a boring, stationary object that lacks personality and charisma and breathes life into it. Suddenly that ‘thing’ becomes a ‘her’ and she’s all kinds of sexy with a little smidgen of swagger and a whole lotta charm. What if she was a brick red tube of lipstick? See what I mean? Alive. Telling a story. Living the dream.

William Wordsworth had it all going on when kicking back on his couch, daydreaming of the good stuff. You can almost hear all those daffodils in harmony singing their little hearts out about all that sunshine and happiness. Loaded with similes, too, let this jovial poem inspire you. Search through your existing poems, and find objects you could set in motion, then edit your work to include phrases with humanlike actions, or at least switch up the pronouns, and set the objects free from their inanimate dungeon.

You can also make a list of objects and actions or feeling for these new items to experience then throw them into a circumstance. Now, write some phrases and toss them into a new poem, like the rockstar poet you know you are.

Here, I’ve started a list for you:


Rain—–Caress, Tickle, Pinch                                                                 

Rainbow—–Sing, Whisper, Rejoice                                                        

Ocean—–Cradle, Rage, Call                                                                    

Ferrari —–Purr, Calculate, She                                                                   

Bed—–Beckon, Moan, Embrace                                                                                

Wedding ring—– Speak, Secure, Promise

Garden—– Celebrate, Mentor, Please

Finally, you can bring living-like action to objects and emotions, too. But, just so you know, this technique straddles the poetic device of implied metaphor depending on what it’s being compared to. Think, “Does it have a heartbeat?” then, we’ll let it slide and call it personification for this exercise. If it’s alive but doesn’t have a heartbeat, then it’s probably safer to stick it in the metaphor bubble. You can even hit up my Categories list on my home page for more of these Classic Poet’s Corner blogs to find the one on Metaphors and go from there if you don’t have Come Write with Me: POETRY Workbook & Journal (For Teens & Adults). If you have the book—cool—you can flip ahead and check out the Metaphor page then come back here later.

Comparative Examples:

The torrid lava clawed its way to the edge of the city, obliterating all things in its vengeful path. (Personification—The action and emotion embodied in the lava could be construed as animalistic or human (a super scary human!)

Love wound its tentacles around my heart and dragged it into the depths of all things hearts and flowers. (Implied Metaphor—Love is an octopus.)

Bitterness pricked my heart, leaving it wounded and oozing with pain. (Implied Metaphor—Bitterness is a thorn.)

And, hear me out, you can even bend the rules a bit and put living characteristics to an inanimate object or emotion that aren’t necessarily human.

Now, go forth, you crafter of creativity, and let out all that eager poetry knocking on your heart’s door. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne


A Lesson in SIMILE

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O, this poem is like so, so overdone

That it’s forever lodged in my head;

Oh, this poem’s so perfect for teaching similes

That it’s what’s proceeding ahead …

Similes have a unique way of wiggling themselves into our everyday language and thoughts. We’re always making comparisons between things. We just do. Robert Burn’s poem capitalizes on comparing red roses among other things to love or as the poets in the 1700s would say, “luve,”  (go ahead and let it roll off your tongue with a purr in that swagger-inducing accent you hear in your head. You know you want to. Do it. Duuuu it.)

The cool thing about similes is they bring anything to life including that first line of your writing called a hook that you’ve been banging your head against your keyboard over trying to come up with for hours. Be it a novel, short story, or even an expository term paper, it’s a guarantee you’ll reel your reader in with a simile because it forces one’s imagination to action.

Slip this poetic device into your stanzas and build a thought-bank of comparisons for your reader to mull over. People will nom those similes up like a never-ending bucket of popcorn. Striking on imagery and complementing other devices such as hyperboles and personification, similes beguile because they require tangible items to get their creativity on.

Here are some emotions, objects (concrete nouns), and personality attributes that pair well in comparison with concrete images.

Mix and match or chose a word and create your own personalized list:

Affectionate   Angry     Brave     Clever    Extravagant

Happiness   Helpless  Joyful  Love    Lonely

Neurotic    Outgoing   Patriotic    Pleasant   Reserved

Sad   Shy   Sophisticated   Tender Troubled

Uplifting   Visionary     Venturesome   Wise   Young

Apple Orchard   Atomic Bomb   Butterfly   Bull   Campfire

Candlelight   Castle   City Lights   Dungeon     Earth

Fireplace   Home   Horseback    Jungle   Laboratory

Meteor Shower   Mountains   Rainbow   Seaside   Sky Scrapers

Space   Street Lamps   Trees   Urban Streets   Wild West

STORM: abandoned, beach house, bitter cold, blanketed, blizzard, cabin, chilling, cottage, crackling, darkness, droplets, electric, flashes, frost, hail, hurricane, ice, lightning, pelting, pressure, rain, rattling, sleet, snow, snowflakes, stillness, thunder, tornado, winter, wind

EXAMPLE: The troubled pain in her eyes gripped me like a lightning storm, as she flashed bitter cold resentment in a single glare before walking away–my words of ending ‘us’ abandoned in the stillness she left behind without a word.

SUNSHINE: apples, berries, boats, breeze, bright, cabin, clouds, coconut, cotton, fruit, grass, hammock, heat, iced tea, jam, lemonade, mountains, pineapples, sailing, sand, strawberries, summer, sun rays, sweet, warm, white picket fence, whispering, wild flowers, windy

EXAMPLE: Happiness broke loose in her heart like sun (rays bursting free from behind a solitary cloud, scattering her mournful thoughts as memories of making homemade jam with wild strawberries gathered on her grandparents’ summer property invaded her mind when she stepped into the aging cabin in the mountains.

Yes, I have been known to write the world’s longest sentences. Please, forgive me.)

Here’s another exercise for you to play around with. Try to incorporate these sensuous elements into a verse that includes a comparison of something totally unrelated. I bet you’ll be a pro at it in no time!

Looks like a pile of cogs and gears

Tastes like a bag of stale bagels

Smells like a bouquet of wild flowers

Feels like a crisp stack of a million dollars

Sounds like a heart beating in love

Sweet like a little kid’s lollipop

Putrid like a drain

Fragrant like a bottle of the sweetest French perfume

Painful like a knife to the heart

Cleansing like a deluge of fragrant, summer rain

Healing like the veins of gold holding broken china together (kintsugi)

Now, go forth, you cultivator of cool beans, and find that perfect pairing to match up and stuff in a poem like a __________. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne



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Onomatopoeias fall under the poetic device of Imagery, which taps into all five senses. The star of the show for this term is sound. This device uses words that actually imitate the sound they’re describing. Using words as sound effects makes for an imaginative playground in your head. Wrap some SLAM poetry around a handful of onomatopoeias, and your competition doesn’t stand a chance the minute you step up to the mic. This poetic device beckons to be spoken aloud. But, if you’re the silent type, that’s okay. You do you. Just feel free to load up your poems with words that trickle off the tongue with every intention of evoking emotion, or at least let others whisper them while they read your work.

Lots of people think of words like, “pow,” “zoom,” “boink,”–or any other 1960s-Batman-television-show variety–when they think of onomatopoeias. Those are fine. Maybe even a little, meh. I challenge you to level up with some better choices that serve a stronger purpose in the poems you write. Choose onomatopoeias that actually have meaning and provoke sound imagery within a setting you’ve created in your poem that includes other senses, too. My workbook and journal has an extensive list of words to use for every sense. You should take a peek, and use as many as you want.

If the example provided by Poe doesn’t do it for you, check out the complete version of his poem, “The Bells.” I wanted to use the full poem, but since it’s super long—I took a pass worried that my readers would lose interest and want to get right down to writing instead of reading the whole thing. “The Bells,” though, is the quintessential example of all things onomatopoeia, so when you have the time of day (or night—this is Poe we’re talking about, night is a good time to set the mood), then do an Internet search for it and enjoy hearing all the different sounds of the types of bells he celebrates in his poem.

For this exercise, here’s a list of onomatopoeias that would love to hang out in a verse that comes to life with other sensory details:

Trickle          Sputter         Squeak         Crackle            Clap             Squeal

Hush             Howl               Sizzle              Rev                  Woof             Mumble

Gurgle          Warble            Smash             Ring                Splash           Click

Stutter         Whisper          Whine             Fizz                Tick-Tock       Thud

Gulp             Chug              Slurp               Rattle              Slosh               Clip

Here are some scenarios to bring to life with a few sound descriptors:

A lifeboat with two survivors drifting on the turbulent sea, pitch black, nothing but stars …

A hungry wolf stalking its prey, ribbons of neon green flowing above them, the full moon dances with the Northern Lights …

A field of tulips in every color imaginable, a swarm of bees feast on all the nectar …

A man stands in the rain outside her window, drench, shaking, wondering if she knows …

A shark cruises the shoreline, his fin slicing the undulating waves, a surfer mounts his board …

Now, go forth, my word-whisperer, and make some noise all up in those sweeeet poems of yours. I can’t wait for you to share your work with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne



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Loaded with all kinds of poetic devices and layers upon layers of secrets within its surface meaning, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s shortest poem could fill a book with all its depth. We’ll keep this lesson short and sweet though, just like the poem if you only read into it like it’s about a hungry bird.

The spotlight this round is ALLITERATION—that snazzy poetic device that requires two or more words in a verse to begin with the same consonant and sound.

Society loves alliteration. We shake this poetic device all over everything liberally like we’re salting the snowy earth with it after a severe storm. (See what I did there. Bam!) We like our Taco Tuesdays, Breakfast Bonanzas, and our Fun Fridays, don’t we? Whether it’s a book club, quilting circle, or a Facebook group, I betcha the squad’s name is composed of a cluster of words that all start with the same consonant and clip off the tongue when pronouncing it. (Now, read that line out loud for extra fun!) I’m not even going to hide the fact that I went all alliterative with the catch phrase “Classic Poet’s Corner,” when, in fact, some of the poets I use for this writerly segment are not even from the Classic Era. I just liked the way it sounded. So far, no one seems to mind.

Alliteration is a beautiful thing. It creates a melody in our heads when we read lines of poetry harboring this little gem. It gives free verse poetry rhythm while it’s lacking rhyme. It also makes memorizing poetry a cinch.

Here is an extensive list of alliterative words that you can shake into your own poetry:

Amazing, Adorable, Awful, Aching , Adamant, Austere, Awesome

Boisterous, Bossy, Bad, Beautiful, Becoming, Bright, Brilliant, Blushed

Crisp, Crunchy, Crackly,  Clever, Clipped, Cloudy, Crystal, Clear

Dry, Dripping, Drought, Dusty, Dank, Dark, Deadly, Doomed, Destined

Energetic, Expressive, Ecstasy, Elated, Enchantment, Enthralled

Fond, Futile, Feverish, Fresh, Flourishing, Frightened, Freakish, Fun

Gross, Grand, Grisly, Garish, Ghostly, Gorgeous, Great, Gritty

Heavenly, Heated, Helpful, Hurtful, Hyper, Hysterical, Happy

Icky, Irritable, Irked , Iridescent, Ironic, Inspirational, Insipid, Instant

Justify, Jargon, Joyful,  Jittery, Jumpy, Jovial, Jointed, Jerk

Kinship, Keeping, Kinetic, Knot, Kind, Kiss, Kaleidoscope

Love, Like, Lust, Lilting, Lofty, Liquid, Lazy, Laboring

Magnificent, Marry, Momentous, Majestic, Meticulous

Nocturnal, New, Narrow, Naughty, Narrative, Narrow, Nice

Overly, Obvious, Oblivious, Off, Obnoxious, Opposing

Perfect, Pretty, Pity, Precipitous, Precocious, Proper, Precious

Quivering, Quilted, Quiet, Quest, Quintessential, Quaint

Robust, Rotund, Rot, Ripe, Ruddy, Resplendent, Radiant

Steamy, Stylish, Secretive, Solid, Sassy, Secure, Seductive

Taunting, Teasing, Tumultuous, Timid, Texture, Timely

Upon, Underrated, Undeniable, Understated, Utopia, Uppity

Verified, Vanilla, Veritable, Vast, Void, Vulnerable, Vixen

Wizened, Wisdom, Whimsical, Wish, Wonderful, Wanderer, Wet

Xerox … I got nothin’ without Googling a bunch of weird words neither of us would use. :-/ Maybe try some silly made-up onomatopoeias?!)

Zephyr, Zoo, Zoom, Zap, Zigzag, Zany, Zesty, Zip, Zebra

Now, go forth and buckle up buttercup; you’ve got to get that gorgeous poetry written. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne



Whether you’ve stumbled upon this section of my website by accident, or if you zapped one of the QR codes in my latest publication, WELCOME!

Repetition, as a poetic device, can seem like a shortcut to making your poem longer, but it’s actually a multifaceted technique that makes your poetry shiny and reflective. You’ve heard of the poem about all the miles to go before that guy can sleep. You know the one where he’s trudging through the woods on a snowy evening. Ring any bells? No? Frost, anyone? Anyone? Celine Dion borrowed his line for a song; I even stumbled across a weightloss blog that lifted the phrase, too. The point is, repetition sticks in people’s heads, so they use it (even if it’s someone else’s line). People like it, connect to it, and feel all cozy and familiar because of it. That’s not a bad thing. You want your poem to be remembered, right? Throw a catchy line in it, then lather, rinse, and repeat every stanza or so.

Notice how Adelaide Crapsey uses the phrase, “properly scholarly attitude,” like an excuse, a weapon, a fault, a badge, and even an unattainable burden? As the inventor of the Cinquain poem, she knows her way around repetition in all sorts of manifestations. In this poem’s case, the meaning of the repeated phrase changes with every utterance due to its context.

As my “Dear Writer,” section of my poetry workbook and journal explains, REPETITION comes in different flavors. You can have the standard repeating of a word, phrase, verse, or more (think couplet/quatrain, etc.) You can also sprinkle a bunch of synonyms in your poem, and voilà, there’s a concept repeated. Patterns, rhythms—you name it—do it more than once, and check off this device as done.

The other thing you might want to know about repetition as an FYI thing is that it takes on specific (Greek and Latin rooted fancy-shmancy) names depending on where you plug your repetition into your work and how. (For example: Anaphora—a word or phrase that hangs out at the front of a line … Mesodiplosis—a word or phrase that hangs out in the middle of every line …) Shall I go on? Overwhelmed much? I’ll save the full-blown college course on all these types of repetition for another blog (or workbook) … Let’s keep it simple with what’s commonly referred to as a REFRAIN (which hangs out at the end of a stanza, like in Crapsey’s poem above) for this exercise.

Here are some one-liners you can use in your work, if you want, but no pressure, mm-kay?

… for all the reasons why.                                        

… because no one could.                                           

… underneath the shimmering stars.

… when I look into your eyes.                                  

… inside my heart.

… around the merry-go-round to me.                        

… before we knew it all.                    

… into the mist they went.                                       

… until the world grows wise.

… between the lines.                                                 

… where I find my place in you.       

… beyond the realm of reality.                                   

… behind the lies comes truth.

… somewhere inside my heart.                                 

… after the rain came to an end.        

… amid the burning embers.               .                                   .

Now, go forth, my suave poet, and use one of these prompts or come up with your own prepositional phrase to make some memorable poetry. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~ Brooke E. Wayne




Whether you’ve stumbled upon this section of my website by accident, or if you zapped one of the QR codes in my latest publication, WELCOME!

We’ve all heard the opening line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s most beguiling love poem, Sonnet 43. We’ve quoted it, parodied it, seen it in textbooks and on coffee mugs, and have probably heard it at a dozen weddings or more. It sings of true love—a heart bursting with emotional truths—and maybe a tad bit of unhealthy obsession, too.

Browning’s playful extremes, aching with desperation, resonate with anyone who has ever fallen irrevocably in love with someone–a love so deep the idea of death do us part doesn’t even seem like it could bring those feelings closure.

As a writer, it would be a practical exercise to mimic this poem. Why? The poem’s overuse of hyperbolic statements makes it a wonderful lesson in going to the extreme. Writing a poem in general is like pouring a glass of wine into a thimble and doubting the sip will embody all the wine’s fruity notes…and yet, it does. One tiny drop of wine on the tongue can deliver its overall explosive flavor to your taste buds—that’s why wine tasting is just that—a sip. (If you’re a teen, disregard my implied metaphor and think, wow, that stick of gum still tastes like mint even after I’ve been chewing on it for an hour. I bet my breath will stay fresh forever!)

Poems hold everything a reader needs to know to fully understand the poet’s intentions in just a few verses or stanzas, like a sip of wine (or a stick of gum–just go with it).

            Emulating Sonnet 43 in your own original poem will give you an opportunity to mess around with hyperbole—a play on words easily overlooked as a poetic device because of their overuse in everyday life as common language. A hyperbole is an absurd exaggeration meant to prove a point. Your creative challenge will be to veer from the theme of love that Browning expounded upon, and dive into another emotion wrapped around a different context.

Here are some possible prompts to create your own hyperbolic poem:

Your passion for writing

Your anguish over a political topic

Your hope in a dream coming true someday

Your sorrow over the loss of something valuable

Your determination in reaching a goal

Your grief in losing someone you love

Your inner strength and focus on self-care

Your rage over a situation in which you were wronged

Your joy in accomplishing a project

Your respect for someone you admire

Your responsibility towards someone you care about

Your fears towards something you cannot control

Now, go forth, you imaginative artist, and write some hardcore, over-the-top poetry, and feel free to overuse the pesky exclamation point all you want!!! I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~ Brooke E. Wayne


A Lesson in IMAGERY

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IMAGERY can be a writer’s greatest tool in the kit. Packed with five powerhouse senses, this poetic device creates vibrant poetry. Use one or use them all, no matter what, let your readers see, smell, taste, touch, and hear what’s going on with their experience when reading your poems. Robert Frost—lover of all things natural and earthy—liked to tap into the sensory world with his poetry. When I read his work, I’m feeling the icy wind and warming sunshine. I smell the fresh snow, and hear the birds beckon the warmth to set spring free…

I have an entire section devoted to imagery in my workbook and a lengthy list of sensory terms for you to play with—just head back to the workbook and flip a few pages ahead.

Below are some additional sensory phrases for you to plop into the middle of your verses. I’m all about the feels—I write romance, remember? Take a peek…


Shadows slid across the ground …

Lavender bells swayed in the wind …

Candy apple red lips laughed …


Ripe orange peels and eucalyptus permeated the hole-in-the-wall, used book store …

Warm leather and spice filled her senses as she buried her nose in his neck …

Sweet cherry blossoms shimmied on the branches scattering their perfume through the breeze …


The bed groaned beneath the …

Cackling laughter carried across the pitch black alley …

Her giggling led to snorts and before she knew it …


A ribbon of succulent peach juice trailed down the child’s chin …

Pungent scum blanketed the lifeless pond …

Blackberries and oak burst in her mouth as she swirled the sip of wine around her tongue … (if you’re a teen: tart cherries and pineapple burst in his mouth as he gulped the ice-cold drink)


Warm grains of sand slid through her fingers …

The velvety blanket enveloped …

Icy wind pressed against …

Go forth, you delicious maker of satisfying poems, and craft a sensuous beauty for me. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne


A Lesson in METAPHOR

Metaphors got you all floating on air, sliding in and out of reveries, dancing on sunshine and rainbows? This darling poetic device can rock someone’s world or slip in between the cracks of anybody’s ordinary thoughts on paper.

Emily Dickinson nailed it with her take on hope. Of all her poems, this is easily in my top three. Her ability to capture exactly what we all think and feel then weave it into something so clipped and emotional … {sigh}.

Metaphors make great hooks for essays, fodder for existential proclamations, and, of course, sparkling nuggets of gold in an otherwise ordinary poem. For this exercise, wedge one of these bad boys into your verse and watch it go from interesting to provocative. Dig deep and let the words fly.

Here are some metaphorical phrases to get you started.

Metaphors to start a verse:

Their bed of lies …

Your heart of stone …

His iron will drove him to …

The open book that is her life …

Each chapter in his journey …

His words were food for his/her soul …

The storm inside her head kept …

His/her countenance was light and life …

Those words igniting the child’s imagination with blazing …

Metaphors to end a verse:

… broken hope but mended with gold

… hidden in the gray area of our circumstance

… lost in the sea of tranquility

… buried deep in the caverns in his heart

… cherishing all the stars in her eyes

… with all the joy bubbling over

… kindling the fire in their hearts

… reaping the harvest of bitterness

… whispered between the lines of love and hate

Now, go forth my rock-solid poet and smash some oddball thinga-ma-dillies together followed by some enlightening connection we all couldn’t see without your help! I bet you’ve gotten all warm and fuzzy and have already made your own list of metaphorical phrases to put into that phenomenal poetry of yours. I can’t wait for you to share your work with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne