How to Write a Praise Poem

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A praise poem is a tribute; an important part of political and literary expression of Africa. In Zulu, praise poetry is called izibongo. It refers to poetic expression that not only defines but names an individual. Praise poetry is written with bold imagery, expressed in the most distinct or carefully selected language. Writing a praise poem is to write about your life and the events or sacrifices that have brought you to the moment you are in today.

Write your lineage as the first line of your praise poem with a pencil on paper. Begin with an introduction. I am the "son or daughter of ...," who was "the son or daughter of ..." Some praise poems can salute who brought you to this moment. Begin with a phrase such as “Praise to Andy Cook” or “Here’s to Kylie Jane."

Include your physical description in lines two and three. Refer to yourself using descriptive words. For example, "I am short, with blond hair and slender legs." Compare yourself with something, not using like or as, such as: "A bird, free" or "I am to water what the drops of rain do to the surface of a lake."

Tell us who you are in the last line. This should express you as a special being. Relate an event or something you've done, an action or deed to tell what makes you special. Begin the last line the same way as the first line, repeating the idea, but varying the words. For example, your first line is "I am of the sign water" and your last line "I am filled with light that dances like rain."

Things Needed

  • Pencil
  • Paper

About the Author

Brittany McComas has been writing since 2000. She has served as a scriptwriter, freelance writer, editor, dramaturg and producer for theater, television, radio and film. She wrote for a television series that won a Royal Television Society Award. McComas holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in scriptwriting from Bath Spa University.

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