Writing poetry can be an incredibly liberating and exciting experience. The best poetry evokes emotion in the reader and this is most effectively done through the use of vivid imagery and figurative language.

What is imagery?
Imagery refers to the pictures you paint for the reader with your words. It is the way you use descriptive language to evoke a sensory experience in the reader.

But how is this accomplished?

You can use descriptive language to play with the reader’s senses: sights, tastes, smells, sounds and internal and external feelings.

Take a look at the imagery created in the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou:

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Here, Angelou creates images for the reader, allowing them to create pictures in their mind, and in that way, brings the poem to life.

What is figurative language?
Figurative language is when you use words or expressions to convey a message that is not literal. This is another way to evoke emotion and create rich images. Figurative language makes use of literary devices like metaphors and similes.

Metaphors are comparisons between two things that aren’t exactly alike, but do have something in common. They are usually made by stating that something is something else. For example, “Her tears are a river flowing down her cheeks” or “Life is a rollercoaster”.

Similes are direct comparisons of two things using the words “like” or “as”. For example, “As dry as a bone” or “They fought like cats and dogs”.
Using these simple techniques can take your poetry to the next level. But the most important thing about writing poetry is to have fun and explore your craft. There is much room to experiment when it comes to form, style, and tone so don’t be afraid to try new things.