September 18 Workshop Information
Moderator: Laurel Becker
Poetic Forms: Extended Metaphors List of all workshops


           Sometimes, after reading a poem, I find myself staring into space, looking for some kind of connection to what I have just read.  Although it is true that not everyone can connect with every poetic effort, some poems seem intentionally opaque to most readers.

Although I use many poetic forms, both traditional and nontraditional, it has always been my intent to reach the audience with ideas, thoughts, feelings, that if not universal, at least are fairly common.

With the use of simile and metaphor to compare one thing to another, my audience is more apt to connect—not only with my work, but also to some deeper part of themselves.  Metaphor is purer than simile and should be used whenever possible.  However, a simile within an extended metaphor can add depth.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another—as in “a sea of troubles,” or “All the world’s a stage.”  The word metaphor derives from the 16th-century Old French, Latin, and Greek meanings “to carry over,” “to transfer,” “to carry.”  (  Metaphors are built into our language, and used every day.  They can’t be avoided.

Metaphors are way of thinking and, as with the extended metaphor poem, of shaping the thoughts of others.  The extended metaphor in poetry (also called a conceit) extends the metaphor comparison as a theme throughout the entire poem.  It can, thus, be defined as literary (as opposed to ordinary language).

Every metaphor has two parts:

  • The Tenor, which is the thing, or idea, being defined
  • The Vehicle, which is the thing doing the defining