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GET POETIC! The Thesaurus
poetry [ ]
Using a Thesaurus to Help You Write Poetry

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by [CBaker ]

2003-12-30  |     | 

GET Poetic!

Using a Thesaurus to Help You Create Poetry

By Charles Baker

Ok, I’ll be honest with you—I don’t do rhyme . . .usually. I have two exceptions to that rule—poetry I write for children, and list poems. I’ll deal with poetry for children in a future column, but for this one, I’m going to show you how that old dinosaur, the thesaurus, can help you out.

First, pick a topic that you want to write about. For me, I picked the word money because I wanted to write a poem about greed. Here’s a list of just a few of the words I found: cash, change, dough, bread, bucks, moola, coin, green stuff, cabbage, lettuce, kale, coppers, wealth, millions, billions, penny, nickel, dime, quarter, smackers, fiver, tenner, fin, sawbuck, pound, franc, mark, guilder, drachma, lira, yen. . .and the list just went on and on.

I now have a huge list of money words, and the poem just about writes itself; it becomes a link from term to term. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the final product:

Greed: Missing the Point (the Bill Gates Blues)

A tenner, a fiver, a sawbuck, a fin,
I’ve got plenty of them, my ship has come in.
Some lettuce, some cabbage, some kale, some green,
I’ve got much more money than you’ve ever seen.
A dollar, a franc, a drachma, a pound,
I’ve got piles of them, just lying around.
I’ve made lots of pesos and rubles and yen,
And then I lucked out—hit the jackpot again!
I’ve got fame and fortune, my house is worth millions,
I love all my cash, I’m worth billions and billions.
I’m rolling in money, I’m dripping in wealth,
I’m lining my pockets, I’ve still got my health,
I’ve mammon and wampum, bread, bucks, and dough,
There’s something still missing, something I don’t have though.
You don’t have what I have, but you seem to have more,
Compared to my fortune, you’re incredibly poor.
But I see that you’re richer than I’ve ever been,
Your life’s more complete, and you know what I mean:

You talk about faith, love, and charity too—
I don’t seem to have them,
Can I buy them from you?
(Originally published in Muse It! August 2000, Volume 2, Issue 8)

Once you know what you want to write about, and you have your list, let the words just flow together. It’s an easy way to sort out ideas, and it guarantees that your poem is filled with specific language.

A list poem can come from anywhere—your hobbies, your child’s toybox, the contents of your purse. You may never look at your shopping list again!

Take some time, and write your own list poem. Or, as I did—let it write itself!

As always, I urge you to GET writing . . .and GET poetic!

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