Employ some onomatopoeia to give your poem rhythm and life in this second NaPoWriMo prompt from Simone Chalkley.
Bring me back to life
Using onomatopoeia can give poetry rhythm and life. Onomatopoeia is when the combined sounds of the letters in a word mimic the sound of a thing or action, such as cuckoo or hiccup.
My poem uses noises I heard in nature mostly made by birds, water, and trees, but also sounds of machines, modes of transport, and nonsense words made by humans. Anything I could see when I was out on my walk.
I’d like to invite you to go outside your door, onto a balcony, into a garden, or out into the world further afield and spend time listening to the noises around you. It can be in a quiet place (which you’ll soon find isn’t as quiet as you might expect when you might hear the distant hum of traffic) or choose a busy, bustling street with cars beep beeping. Any place is fine.
If you can’t get outside, open a window, or use the TV or the internet to find interesting noises to listen to. Using a pen and paper or a phone to type or even to record what you hear to come back to later, note down all the sounds that you hear and, if you can see what they are, what made them, or take a guess if they are beyond your line of vision.
You can make up a very simple rhythmic poem just by repeating in pairs some of the onomatopoeic words, such as ploop ploop or pairing up ones that rhyme, such as slam, bam. You can also extend the lines by writing what things made each of the noises. Read what you have written out loud. It is important to do this because you will soon find that there is a certain rhythm and/or rhyme to these longer sentences. You can then rearrange these sentences as you see fit and then you will have the beginnings of a poem. Be patient. It took me a long time, lots of editing, and lots of rearranging of lines until I felt like my poem was the most rhythmic that it could be!
Walking out by the Cam
Walking out by the Cam, trudge trudge, feet on gravel
Crunch crunch, rhythmic beats, there’s a stick, crunch crack.
A pigeon’s wings flap flap, as it lands on a cow’s trough, close to the play park.
Preens its back.
A man on his barge, bzzz bzzz, drills holes in solar panels
Vrrm vrrm a petrol mower revs down a side street,
the hum dissipates on the wind, becomes distant
I clomp clomp carry on with my stomp stomp feet.
A bike rattle blatter, quickly chased by another,
whizz whirr its chain, teeth done up fast like a zip,
brakes screech screech vie for first place on the bridge.
Ding ding! We’re coming! Get out the way, quick!
The heron sits patient, mouth agape, total silence
A radio Bob Marley hopes that he “likes jammin’ too”
The fishermen share cider slurp sip and fun times
They throw a fish to heron like he’s one of the crew.
Rowers’ oars clatter clatter, speckled mallards flutter flutter
rowers coming through no matter, ducks alert quack quack
A splash and a flurry, a swoosh and a scurry,
Webbed feet pitter-patter to avoid a whack splat.
Car doors slam slam, men sit either end of benches
ignoring each other in the blazing Spring sun,
They blah blah on their mobiles to significant others,
stare at sparkling wavelets as the river run runs.
Walking back along the Cam, boat flags swish swish
A wren flitter flutters in a round privet bush,
a kiddy’s silver scooter leans unlocked against it,
Will it be there later? Only at a push.
Ducks on the far bank curled up neatly,
Fast asleep already by half past three,
An old man doffs his cap in an old-fashioned manner,
“They’ve got the right idea, in times like these!”
Gentle Cam lap lapping, weeping Willow leaves shush shushing,
Ripples glimmering and flashing as the sun hits each crest.
A low gloop gloop, against the bank, Ploop ploop
Oh rippling river, it’s why I love you best.
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