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Onomatopoeia … what a great word. What an important part of our language.

If we go to a dictionary we get the following definition:

Onomatopoeia /.ɒnə(ʊ)matəˈpiːə/

– the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoo, sizzle ).
– the use of onomatopoeia for literary effect.

So the prompt today is all about the sound of our poems, and I would like you to approach it in a very specific way.

First of all we have to find a wordlist of such words and fortunately the internet is full of such lists. See for instance this or this. If you have your own favorite you are free to select your own.

In the list you will soon find that there are two types, to put it simply some of them have made it into real dictionaries some have not yet made it.

This learns teaches us something, namely Onomatopoeia is part of how words are formed, and secondly that many of the words we are using today are formed from sounds originally.

Example of such “normal” words are; hiss, cuckoo and babbling.

Then we have the words that we find in places like cartoons, words that are created with the sound of saying, words you can create yourself: pow, ka-boom and zumm

I want you to start with one or two words from any list you can find on onomatopoeia and create a poem from that. Remember that you can enhance the effect of onomatopoeia by using other words that resemble the words from the list. We can use rhyme or alliteration to create a sound effect in your writing.

So to be clear, to start with you should just focus on the sound of your poem, rather than the meaning.

I tried out my prompt the other day by writing a poem where I started with hiss and then let it lead me to a poem about quarreling:

The first hiss

A hiss of air,
a lighted fuse

the briefest bite of breath
before the bursts of bullet-barks
before our rage of roar and rumble,
before the rain and thunderstorms
before we rowed
before we tangled thoughts to knots

and fizzled to
a hiss of air.

I have tried to mark those words that are clearly coming from a list of Onomatopoeia words, but then added words like bullet and burst to add to the sound effect of the poem.

Remember that many times you will find “hidden” metaphors when you do this, which goes back to my original theory that most of our words might have started out being formed through Onomatopoeia.

When you have written your poem, link it up on Mr Linky below, leave a comment or take part in the discussion, read and comment, have fun in the world of sounds.