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Welcome back to dVerse Poets’ Pub. This is Victoria, excited to be tending bar today. I look forward to offering you a color-full menu of drinks and delectable’s to please your poetic palates.

In my first Poetic’s post, I discussed the elements and principles of art then focused on texture. I promised that, from time-to-time, I would return to this topic with the conviction that, applied to poetry or prose, these basic tools will add a new level of lushness to our work.

Today’s feature is COLOR. Perhaps the favorite choice of visual artists, as well as wordsmiths, color enriches our experience of life. Consider the canvases of Impressionists such as Van Gogh or Gauguin—how their use of color and play of light affects the viewer. How about the more recent works of Abstract Expressionists such as Kandinsky, Pollock or deKooning, which rely on color to give form to emotion? Renaissance painters employed chiaroscuro, significant contrasts of light and dark, to add intensity and passion to their work. Color depends on light, because it is made of light. In the absence of light, we do not see color.


Let’s review just a few terms associated with color:

Hue refers to the names of colors. The primary hues (colors) are yellow, red and blue. All color is formed from these three colors. Secondary colors are blends of primary colors. They are orange, violet and green. Tertiary colors are combinations of these.

Value refers to the lightness or darkness of color. If black is added to a hue, it is called a shade. Maroon is a shade of red. If you add white, it’s referred to as a tint. Pink is a tint of red. Intensity refers to the purity of the hue. The purest color has no other color added to it. Colors that recede are known as cool colors, while colors that seem to come forward are warm colors.

Association of color with emotion often has a universal aspect to it. We speak of angry people as “seeing red.” Hospitals used to paint operating rooms in light tones of green to create a more relaxing environment. Yellow is not a good color to paint your kitchen if you want to lose weight because it stimulates the appetite and we often associate orange with creativity, purple with spirituality and indigo with knowledge. As you probably know, various color correlations are made to the energy centers (chakras) of the body.

For today’s prompt, let’s grab our paints and mix up a poetic palette using color. Here are a few ways you might approach the prompt:

  • Use a color in the title of your poem and allow that color to deliver a message.
  • Look back at Emmett Wheatfall’s prompt for Meeting the Bar on October 26th and choose two complementary colors (colors that are opposite of one another on the color wheel) and weave them into a single poem.
  • Choose colors to paint an emotion.
  • Pick one of the color terms explained above and use it in your verbal painting.
  • Choose the work of a visual artist—known or unknown—even your own, and write an ekphrasis using that piece, considering his or her use of color.
  • Write a poem, using colorful visual details for sensory description.
  • Assign a meaning to a color that seems to oppose the usual association (such as a relaxing red room).
  • Collaborate with a child to write a color poem. This just could introduce your child, grandchild or neighbor to the joy of poetry.
  • Do whatever the heck you want, but add a touch of color and have fun with it.

I look forward to visiting your work, although it will take me a day or two as I will be with my mother, celebrating her 91st birthday. Above all, have fun with this prompt.

Here are a couple of short examples of color poems I wrote a while back:

The Death of Orange

A male oriole
lay lifeless.
Flaming sunset paused.


A stretch of white.
You scrape a knife
through black, then indigo,
layer darkness,
across the horizon.
Reach for a tube of
chestnut brown,
squeeze the contents
onto the lower half
and smear.
Payne’s grey sky.
A slash of crimson,
a miniscule orb
in orange.