In our exercise on metaphor, you made a poem from an idea that arose organically from your first line using a metaphor. Your poem began with a triggering metaphor, and rest of the poem flowed naturally. Here, you create a poem that flows naturally from your starting simile.
Please print the Star Simile Worksheet, and have it nearby.
Next, have a look at these two poems as examples of how a simile expands the poem. In "The Eagle" by Tennyson, the simile appears in the final line: "And like a thunderbolt he falls." The eagle is compared to the thunderbolt through the action verb falls.
In the next example as you read, look for the simile in "Las Seis Cuerdas" (The Six Strings) by Federico García Lorca.
In this poem, the simile appears mid-way through the poem; the guitar is like the tarantula through the action verb spins. Both poems use strong action verbs to make connections between unrelated objects; Tennsyson uses "as," and Lorca uses "like".
TO GET YOU STARTED
To write your poem of simile, let's begin with the Star Simile Worksheet.
At the top of the worksheet you will see a line above the words "as BIG as" beside the star. Think of a few things that are big, and write them inside the star, such as: elephant, sky.
Fill out the worksheet by writing one or two single nouns inside of each star -- words that are examples of the word beside the star. What is SMART? What is HONEST, and so on.
With this portion of your worksheet filled out, return to the first star with BIG beside it. Now think of a thing that compares to the word you have written inside that star.
Ask yourself the questions: WHO or WHAT is as big as an elephant? The sky? Write your word on the blank line here: "_____ as BIG as." Now combine the words outside that star with words inside the star to make a complete sentence.
You might end up with phrases like these: My hand is as big as the sky. My heart is as big as an elephant. Some of the sentences will make more sense than the others, but the idea here is to be as creative as you can and avoid using clichés.
COMPLETING THE SIMILE WORKSHEET
Continue through the worksheet and think of a person you know, a place, a food, or an emotion that would fit on the blank line beside each star. Almost any word for emotion will work to complete the blank line: Love is as smart as a fox. Anger is honest as a whale.
Which line do you like best? Choose your favorite line from the group of five stars and use that line as the starting point for your poem. Explain how your hand got to be as big as the sky. Make up a myth, or tell a story that describes how your hand became that way. How did your heart become as big as an elephant?
Now answer these questions: When did it get to be this way? Were any family members involved? What were their reactions?
MIXING THINGS UP
To really mix this exercise up, SWITCH ANSWERS from star to star. For example, if inside the star for BIG you wrote: "My heart is as big as the ocean," and in the star for HONEST, you wrote: "My father is honest like an angel," try switching your answers from one star to another, as follows:
My heart is as big as [the ocean]. ↑ ↓ My father is honest like [an angel].
You may end up with lines sounding like these:
My heart is as big as an angel.
My father is honest like the ocean.
By substituing the words inside one star for the words inside another star, you open a world of fantastic possibilities with simile.
How could your father be honest like the ocean?
Experiment by switching several answers from star to star, until you find the most exciting combination.
START YOUR POEM HERE
This is where your poem begins. Choose your favorite line and write it in the middle or near the end of the poem, and be sure to use a strong action verb that shows how the two parts of the simile connect, such as we saw in the poems by Tennyson and Lorca.
Write your simile poem of no longer than fifteen lines, and submit it for consideration on the APW Forum/Guests' Pages. Email subject line: Simile Poem.