PoetryBase/Poetry Gnosis Home   Mission Statement   Frequently Asked Questions   Poetic Forms Listing   Poetic Tips Listing   The Gnostic Poet's Discourses   Poetry-Related Reviews   Letters to a Young Writer   Site Change Log

Be fresh. Avoid Clichés

Don’t use clichés unless you have a very good reason to do so, besides a need to write dull poetry. Clichés by their very nature are boring phrases that everyone uses. Stir up the pot (Cliché alert!) with new metaphors.

The author of this book goes to a chiropractor every week. Sometimes this author is in serious need of treatment. In order to convey this to the good doctor, the author tries to come up with new similes to see if he can get the doctor laughing so hard that he can’t get the job done. Why this author should take such a counter-productive approach is beyond explanation; however, here are some examples all beginning with the phrase, “My back is locked up like a...”:

  • 1,000-carat emerald.
  • Third-time offender.
  • Hillbilly’s daughter.
  • Brick in the middle of the wall.
  • The town drunk on a Friday night.
  • Bullet in Barney Fife’s pocket.
  • Gargoyle’s face.
  • Bank after 5:00 P.M.
  • Weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.
Make the reader actually want to keep going. You don’t have to be roll-on-the-floor funny, just both comprehensible and different. Make the metaphors timely. Make the metaphors jump off the page so that your reader says, “Wow! I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.”

Southerners might have the advantage here, because they grow up around colorful characters that tie life together in interesting new ways.

Now, the astute reader might have noted the use of many clichés in the poetry used throughout the book as examples. To quote an old gnome: “Do as I say, not as I do!” Just consider those to be the bad examples to avoid. So, let us have a better example of avoiding clichés. The following poem has a fresh metaphor because mayflies in their adult stage aren’t alive long enough to sleep. So, the mayfly sleeper must be someone who doesn’t sleep well or much. Have you ever heard the metaphor before? Will you hope never to hear it again?

The Mayfly Sleeper

I sleep like the mayfly.
With life so very short
who ever has the time
to stay still and not sport?

Status: Complete


To contact us, e-mail thegnosticpoet@poetrybase.info.
Copyright 2001-2015 by Charles L. Weatherford. All rights reserved.