Praise Poetry Definition

These poems are made up of metaphors and similes—forms of comparison relating the writer to an object, a person, a color, or a feature in nature. Each line is a celebratory declaration, an invocation that acts as a cathartic affirmation as the poet places him or herself on the continuum of his or her ancestry. It is also an awesome way to work with metaphor and simile while enhancing writing skills and strengthening voice. I lead the lesson with an example of my own Praise Poem, “New Wings.”

How to Write a Glenis Redmond Praise Poem

A Praise Poem is not to be written in a linear fashion—the goal is more than ticking items off the list from one to seven. The student must enter where their imaginations call the loudest. Yet, all seven guidelines should be included in the poem, but not limited to the list.

  1. Heritage. (literal and metaphoric) For example: I am as my grandfather’s withered hands that pushed the plow on southern Carolina soil.
  2. Height. (literal and metaphoric height) For example: I am as tall as my mother’s earnest daily prayers cast up for me.
  3. Color. (personality and skin tone) For example: I am sunburst orange with a streak of grey, or I am the color of cream adding joy to the recipe.
  4. Animal. Compare yourself to an animal. For example: I am the crows who always remember the stories of the people below the treetops, or I am the play of intelligent dolphin reminding us to be our best selves.
  5. Nature. Compare yourself to the natural world. For example: I am the rays of the sun shooting through the clouds.
  6. How You Walk in the World. For example: I do not walk, I dance through life on tip toes that twist to the beat of my own drum.
  7. Profession or Wannabe Profession, Pastime, or Hobby. For example: I am the burnt orange globe that is swallowed by the hoop. The roar of the crowd inspires me. The endless days of practice gives me a deep satisfaction.

Pre-Writing Begins with Brainstorming

I lead students in a brainstorming session with questions about their top favorites—that is, favorite animals or magical creatures, jewels, and parts of nature. I also ask them about some of their favorite places rooted to the state in which they live or where they were born. Every answer is written on the board. I consider every response valid, so long as it is school appropriate. When done prompting, I demonstrate how to use the brainstorm box.

This article appeared in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt here.