3/1 – Concrete Imagery

Warm up: Describe the difference between the first death you remember and the most recent one. If you haven’t experienced a death or if the idea of death is too triggering for you personally, consider any type of meaningful loss (a break up, a fight with a friend, the loss of a pet, the loss of an object you loved).

Today we talked about concrete imagery. Concrete imagery is imagery that’s

  • very specific or particular
  • appeals to the senses (can actually see, touch, hear)
  • opposite of abstract

We read a poem together called “Killing Mark” and tried to figure out which parts would be concrete images. We underlined those things in pink:

Then I asked you to scan through the warm ups that you’ve done over the last few days, identify 1-2 examples of concrete images, and then write them up on the board.

In my experience it’s easy to get confused on whether something is just a really great line of poetry, or if it’s actually an example of concrete imagery. So, as a class, we went through the images trying to decipher which ones were just awesome and which ones were specifically concrete.

One thing that emerged in our discussion is that the idea of “specific” is one of the hardest parts of concrete imagery. For example:

the smooth, creamy ice cream

the smell of fresh flowers

…may be concrete enough in terms of appealing to our senses (yes! sounds delightful!), but it doesn’t pass the test of being SPECIFIC. Just the definition of ice cream is “creamy and smooth” and the definition of flowers is that the smell.

Instead, if we took those images and made them SPECIFIC or PARTICULAR, they might look something like this:

the caramel ribbon sagged over the edge of her cone

the tractor kicked up exhaust mixed with the smell of grass and crushed cloverj

Lastly, for today’s experiment, I asked you to try writing a poem with one central image–a memory or a moment or just a fragment of a story. Then, I asked you to try limiting yourself to concrete imagery to develop the work.


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