As Easy As Pie! How to Make a Great Simile for Your #LovetheWords Entry
This year, we want everyone to ‘Love the Words’ (a direct quote from Hannah’s grandad, Dylan Thomas) by pitching in to help create the world’s
longest love poem!
When I say ‘we’, I perhaps mean ‘me’, really… As I am a poet who organises poetry events and poetic happenings and poet-ish projects, and this has been one I’ve wanted to run / do / attempt for quite a few years now.
At first, I thought it would be interesting to try for the world’s longest poem: but, after a little research, I realised that this would be too difficult. The
longest poem on record is the Mahābhārata, and it is 1.8 million words in length!
Far easier, then, is longest love poem. The current record is held by London’s Rajinder Tumber, and it is 2,413 words long. Sorry, Rajinder, but I thinkwe are going to beat you on that one! Not that I want to hurt anyone’s feelings… But the writing, in this case, is as much about quantity as it is about
Love is a great topic which has inspired poets since the dawn of versification itself, of course: but, how do we get the quality into our poem? What poetic techniques or devices can we use, here?
In the original call out for lines of verse, several suggested prompts (line beginnings) were given.
Love is like…
Love is as ________ as….
Love makes me…
‘Love is like…’ and ‘Love is as ________ as….’ are examples of similes. Similes are sentences in which one thing is compared to another. Some
famous similes are ‘as thin as a rake’, ‘as old as the hills’, ‘as good as gold’, and so on. These similes are so well-worn that they have become clichéd. Cliché isn’t good in a poem, because poetry is about surprising people and making them think / feel, and we tend not to think about the imagery held within a cliché because is so familiar (and, therefore, boring!).
So, try to think of something new and surprising to compare love to. How do you do this, then? Well, if it was me, I would take a look around the room or space I was in, and start to compare love to everyday things that happened to be about me. Then, I would think hard about finding a way to make
that comparison work. Some of these comparisons will work, and some won’t. It really doesn’t matter if your simile doesn’t work, though, you can
always try again. Also please remember that poetry isn’t about being right, it’s about exploring language and ideas. It’s about having fun and playing
with words, like Dylan did!
If I look around myself at the moment, then, the first thing I see is my wood burning stove. So, here’s my simile:
Love is like a wood burning stove.
Easy! But now I will explore this idea a little more, and that’s the tricky part… Let me think… How about:
Love is like a wood burning stove. It transforms dry, dead matter into lively, living flame. It warms the whole room and gives heat and heart to
everyone it touches.
I think this is pretty okay! What do you think? Let’s try again. The next thing I see around me is a pen (poets love pens!). So, my simile is:
Love is as ________ as a pen.
But, what is a pen like? There are lots of words I could put into the blank space above. Let me think… I need to make sure that whatever word I choose will be easy to expand upon afterwards. How about:
Love is as careful as a pen, tracing a line between points, from me, to you, and back again. It writes something lovely, which can never be erased.
How’s that? Or maybe:
Love is as blue as a pen, spilling its lonely ink over the cold white page, a never-ending sentence which leads the reader nowhere.
Brr! That one feel a lot different to the first one, doesn’t it?
Even though some similes / comparisons are challenging to create and to expand upon, it’s really worth trying to write quite a few similes, even for the same object (in this case, the pen), and to play around with different ways of completing and expanding on that.
After you are done, I recommend to read your completed line aloud, to yourself or to a friend. Does it feel happy, sad, angry, or something else? Does
it make love sound, well, lovely, or does it make it seem like some kind of disease?!?! As a poet, the feeling your writing creates is entirely up to you,
because that is your own personal viewpoint. But, whatever the emotion of your simile, if the comparison you make is surprising and interesting, then you have written a great line of poetry. Well done indeed!
So, send your line (or lines! Feel free to write more if you feel inspired) to us via social media, and help us create the longest love poem, please!
International Dylan Thomas day is on Facebook and on Twitter, and you can share your line(s) of poetry through either of these by using the hashtags #LovetheWords AND #DylanDay in order to take part. Please include your name, age, and country of origin, if you can, also!
The competition closes on Friday May 4 at midnight, and the completed love poem will then be shared online on the Discover Dylan Thomas website on Dylan Day itself, which is May 14.
Feel free to contact me personally at email@example.com if you have any questions at all. But, hopefully, this activity will be as easy as pie….