How to Write an Object Poem

An object poem describes an inanimate object in detail, focusing on singular characteristics of an animal, natural phenomenon or manufactured good. A vivid description of the object's physical form, functions and potential is used as a literary device to personify the object. Employing straightforward and highly descriptive language, an object poem leads the reader to fresh perception of the subject. Ultimately, the reader senses the significance of the object as a metaphor for human interaction, emotional situations or spiritual truths.

Select an object to write about. Consider objects that will be somewhat familiar to the reader. Choose an object with sentimental value, unusual shape or texture, or one that simply interests you.

Write a list of sensory, descriptive words and phrases about the object in the present moment. Describe the object's visual characteristics, such as general shape or surface patterns. Jot down how the object sounds, tastes, feels and smells.

Describe the object's environment using detailed lists of adjectives. Ask yourself if it stands alone or next to other objects.

Make a list of verbs and adverbs to describe an action related to the object, such as "sways gently" or "stands forlorn" for a dandelion. Does the object act upon something else or is acted upon or used in some manner?

Relate to the object. Look for connections between yourself and the object on a non-literal level. Seek resemblances between the actions of the object and your own actions, and jot down your motivations. Question what you can learn from the object. Ask yourself if the object reminds you of an interaction between people, a universal desire or spiritual truth.

Introduce your object at the start of the poem. Forge your first stanza with a detailed description of the object to initiate the reader.

Develop the body of your object poem. Include the object's environment and actions performed by or upon the object in the second stanza. Describe a single, literal attribute or action of the object in the third stanza.

Write a closing. Use a metaphor or simile in the final stanza to relate yourself or humanity in general to the object's attributes or actions from the third stanza.

  • Though often more difficult, you can also approach steps 1 to 5 in reverse, first listing your current emotions or a universal truth and then seeking a single object as a representation.
  • Avoid selecting objects that have already been the subject of famous object poems, such as "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.
About the Author

With a career spanning business writing and technical commentaries, Jasmine Haryana has been writing and editing since 1996. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Davis and holds her certification in grant writing from The Foundation Center.