Spotlight On: Object Poems

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Are you interested in writing poetry? There are many different types of poetry, but today's writing tip spotlights object poems. Discover what an object poem is and see examples of object poems from The Poetry Dictionary, written by John Drury.

object poem | how to write a object poem

What is an Object Poem?

A poem about an inanimate object. It may give us a fresh look at something ordinary, or it may transform a strange object into something familiar.

The term is a translation of the German Dinggedicht, or “thing poem,” and some of the best object poems are by Rainer Maria Rilke, including his “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” Don Bogen has written object poems such as “Card Catalog,” “Salver,” “Necklace,” “Among Appliances,” and “Bullhorn” (which he calls “A gun / for the mouth”). Charles Simic’s “Fork,”which appears on the next page, has two companion poems, “Knife” and “The Spoon.”

Examples of Object Poems


A NAVAJO BLANKET / May Swenson (1919–1989)

Eye-dazzlers the Indians weave. Three colors
are paths that pull you in, and pin you
to the maze. Brightness makes your eyes jump,
surveying the geometric field. Alight, and enter
any of the gates—of Blue, of Red, of Black.
Be calmed and hooded, a hawk brought down,
glad to fasten to the forearm of a Chief.

You can sleep at the center,
attended by Sun that never fades, by Moon
that cools. Then, slipping free of zigzag and hypnotic diamond, find your way out
by the spirit trail, a faint Green thread that
secretly crosses the border, where your mind
is rinsed and returned to you like a white cup.

FORK / Charles Simic (b. 1938)

This strange thing must have crept
Right out of hell.
It resembles a bird’s foot
Worn around the cannibal’s neck.

As you hold it in your hand,
As you stab with it into a piece of meat,
It is possible to imagine the rest of the bird:
Its head which like your fist
Is large, bald, beakless and blind.

This excerpt is from The Poetry Dictionary by John Drury. Buy this book and discover:

  • Definitions for practically every type of poem
  • Examples of poems by well-known poets
  • A comprehensive index of poets and terms

Buy The Poetry Dictionary today!

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