We spend the first fifteen minutes of class reviewing metaphors and extended metaphors. We discuss that metaphors are comparisons of two objects or an object and an idea, and that metaphysical conceits make an unlikely comparison that draws on abstract, often spiritual ideas; for example: love, devotion, loyalty, or honor.
Students have already started creating metaphorical comparisons, and some of them even have line fragments and ideas already on paper.
We discuss the usage of other types of figurative language like personification and simile and how those devices work differently from metaphors, and how they can work with metaphors.
"Sometimes giving human qualities to an inanimate object or an animal can strengthen the comparison. It's part of the way we make sense of the world, giving the world around us qualities that we, ourselves already have."
Next we discuss poetic structure, and the way a poem's organization can reinforce its meaning. We discuss the difference between open and closed form. Open form poems do not follow traditional rules of meter and rhyme, there is a pattern that is discernible. Closed form poems follow traditional rules of rhyme and meter, i.e. sonnets, ballads, villianelles, etc.
We also discuss stanza structure and the different ways to arrange stanzas: couplets, quatrains, etc.
Now the students work on their poems, writing silently. I move around the room and assist them if they have questions or keep them on track.
Sometimes the students will ask me to read their poem and I ask them back, "What am I reading for?" Asking them for a purpose gets them to reflect informally about what they've just written.
Most of the students write somewhere between six and eight lines, though some students write extended poems, with several revisions. A couple of students write prose poems, which work as well.