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6 Tips for Using Onomatopoeia in a Poem

Onomatopoeia may look like gibberish, but this type of poem is fun and easy to write- and even more fun to read aloud. Trust us. Here are some tips to get you started writing an onomatopoeia poem:

  1. Crazy word, not such a crazy meaning. It’s pronounced “on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh.” This word thankfully means exactly what it sounds like (bonus point: that’s its definition). Onomatopoeia is the use or format of words whose sounds imitate their meanings (ex: buzz, honk, boom).
  2. Shout it Out Loud. Onomatopoeia is an awesome poetry device because it adds depth to writing, but the sounds can only be heard when you speak them. Hear the difference for yourself: read the word “woof.” Now try speaking it.  Now a little louder. Hear it? You already know that spoken word poetry is powerful, but it has an even greater impact when you use onomatopoeia.
  3. Make Some Noise. Now that you know what onomatopoeia is and how it works, think of a bunch of “sound” and “noise” words that you could use to help tell a story. It might help to think of actions, especially those of animals or kids, like “ribbit” and “slurp.”
  4. Work Backwards. When writing onomatopoeia poetry, you have to work backwards-- instead of finding words to help you convey an idea, you frame the story around words you’ve chosen. Your theme can convey any emotion; words like “bash” and “scratch” are just as strong as “purr” and “swoon.”
  5. Rhyming and Form. Onomatopoeia poems don’t have to rhyme or follow a specific format. Instead, go wherever the noise takes you. If you happen to find some words that rhyme and make the sounds you need them to, feel free to make couplets (two lines that rhyme), but you decide how your poem flows (or doesn’t).
  6. Read and Share. These poems are meant to be read out loud, so read it to your friends and post a recording on Power Poetry.org. Try recording your voice or making a video, so that the audience can really hear the sound you use, and see your poem brought to life.

 

Cynthia in the Snow
Gwendolyn Brooks    

It SHUSHES
It hushes
The loudness in the road.
It flitter-twitters,
And laughs away from me.
It laughs a lovely whiteness,
And whitely whirls away,
To be
Some otherwhere,
Still white as milk or shirts,
So beautiful it hurts.


Gathering Leaves
Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

 

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