A Natural History Guide To Poetry

Using the natural history guide, pages chosen at random, and my jar of words, I have spun a series of metaphors which utilise different sensory aspects, excluding smell and taste as neither of those work especially well for me.

This was an exercise in creating metaphors but you could easily take one of the images and expand it and turn it into a larger poem. I’ve adapted it from Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and I highly recommend her book Poem Crazy for any creative writer.

I am…

I am a prickly cockle with a grain of sand gnarled in my foot.

I am a silky wall feather moss, collecting gossamer and rainbows.

I am a moustached warbler, and a longing, sweet ‘tu-tu-tu’.

I am the music played in the teeth of a dandelion, before time is wished away.

I am the sound of fish fins as they encounter the everchanging river.

I am a willow, weeping, leaves creeping, catkins dancing.

I am the grey-blue crown of a male chaffinch in summer.

I am the eyes of a peacock butterfly; mesmerised and mesmerising.

I am the shape of a mute swan’s neck, curving with the secrets of the self.

I am a migratory locust with a solitary path, soon I will plunge into a galaxy of my peers.

I am the perch formed by the spines of a gorse; stiff, unforgiving and deadly.


To illustrate my take on this exercise I’ll dissect a sentence:

I am a prickly cockle with a grain of sand gnarled in my foot

I am… an animal was one of the prompts.

Prickly cockle came from the guide book.

Grain of sand, gnarled and toe were words I pulled from my jar, obviously I changed toe to foot as it made more sense with the chosen animal.

I particularly like the idea of the dandelion as a musical instrument and without Susan’s prompts I would never have considered it. Similarly, I was using her furniture prompt when I wrote about the gorse bush. By using a natural history guide, I have been able to include some precision in the name of the species and some detail, such as the call of the fantastically named moustached warbler.

I’m hoping I’ll return to some of these images and play with them a bit more deeply when I’m in less pain that I am at the moment (pain drains creative energy).

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