Poetic Terminology: Anaphora

By Nikki Anne Schmutz

As a poet, it is vital to know poetry terminology! Awareness of the devices used to create specific poetry styles will help us broaden our own style and skill. As we learn – we recognize the device, we see how other writers utilize it in their poetry, and we begin to dabble in something new. Creating our own version of something we learn is like the final exam of self-study.

Today we look at the use of anaphora. In definition, anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. It is often used in speeches of all kinds, as well as in prose and poetry – as emphasis. Repetition of a concept is a powerful way to make sure the reader walks away with what we meant them to walk away with.

Writers such as William Blake, Paul Muldoon, and Johanna Klink have utilized this style. In fact, much of the great Walt Whitman’s work contains anaphora.

In the following piece by myself, I use the phrase “Paper folded” as anaphora as a tangible object representing life experiences shared through letters written to loved ones.

 

Paper Folded Letters By Nikki Anne Schmutz

Paper folded letters
Expressions transcribed
Exposing layers of soul
Paper folded sharing

Paper folded calendars
Daily adventures
Nightly musings
Paper folded moments

Paper folded intentions
Inscribed into words
Sent in perfumed
Paper folded envelopes

Paper folded aggression
Carved along measured lines
Pressure thick ink of
Paper folded arguments

Paper folded mountains
Of communicated emotion
Dedicated to love spanning
Paper folded time

Anaphora seems like simple repetition, but can be used with complexity. It is a focal point to the piece and an anchor to the ideas within. Write away!

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