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In our poems, we want people not only to read our words but feel them

So – how do we manage to “translate” our emotions in a way the reader gets emotionally involved?
We could of course take the direct approach and write “I felt so sad…”

But honestly – I find that naming emotions directly works very seldom really well in poetry – and as poets we have so much more possibilities…

So instead of writing “I felt terribly lonely” or “I was so happy” or “I’m desperate”…. we could say exactly the same thing much more creative, to the point and colorful…

  • through storytelling
  • through (unexpected) images
  • through metaphors
  • through direct speech/conversation snippets without touching the subject!!
  • through placing light //color// shade in the right places
  • through stage setting
  • through rhythm
  • through focusing on certain details
  • through over-exaggerating
  • through animals (a great example is the poem Searchers by D. Nurkse)
  • through music (just think of a scene in a movie… you don’t even have to watch but you know something terrible is going to happen just by the background music…) how can you translate this into poetry? Glenn Buttkus sometimes does it by bringing an instrument into the scene…  other ideas? personalizing a musical instrument? could work..

and – and – and….

So the challenge today is to write a poem that conveys certain emotions WITHOUT ever naming the emotion!!

Don’t TELL us “I felt lonely or miserable or abundantly happy” but choose the indirect way through the above tools (or maybe find your own tool) to SHOW, to make us FEEL what /how YOU feel

Two examples…

Conveying emotions through a conversation without touching the subject:

Passing lights by Anton Gourman

She says
‘we all have to start somewhere’
keeping her eyes on the road.

milestones flash by through the night like cigarette embers,
and promises of other lives
wink wink wink
through the windows of houses we pass.

in the dark it’s hard to see.
bugs splatter against the windshield
as tens of life metaphors a mile
correct the wrongs we think.

her rubber smokes road
inch by inch.

the engine sings

She says
‘we all have to start somewhere’
keeping her eyes on the road.

diners go by like missed opportunities
every other hour
while we follow the words of the GPS
instead of a compass
because voices in the sky never lie

She shivers against the night
hands at ten and two,
clutching the wheel
just hard enough to turn her knuckles white
and I change tracks on the CD again


Conveying emotions through images:

on finding skittles in the cushions by Brian Miller

snow melts, grass grows
& i think of you

as i walk down the hill to the shed
where the lawn mower waits

to roar to life, cutting
heads off dandelions, spraying dismembered
clippings across the side walk

the gas can is empty though
so i go back inside

to a couch
with no arms.


Alright.. have fun writing and see you out on the trail..


If you’re here for the first time, this is how it works..

  • Write a poem that fits the above theme
  • Post it on your blog
  • Copy the direct URL to your poem and your name into the above Mr. Linky tool
  • Read and comment others that have taken the challenge
  • Promote yours & others on social media if you like – and if you use the @dVersePoets tag we can retweet you