Poetry Tow Truck 37: True Colors

Color and specificity are two of the easiest ways to create strong visual imagery. (It is much easier to imagine a canary yellow VW bug than a light-colored small car, for example.) There are so many color words that it is a shame that we use mostly the common ones when we write. So today, we will play with color to see what we can create.

1. Visit The Phrontistery for a unique list of color words that you may not have heard before. Croceate. Fulvous. Puccoon. Many of the words are derived from how the color comes to be (madder – red-brown, like a dye made from Brazil wood). Choose a few that you like the sound of and write them down for future reference.

2. Choose your favorite color and research names for all the different variations of that color. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals sixty-one different types of blue listed in their pages, including color types associated with places (like Eton blue or Air Force blue).

3.  Go back to some old poems and see if replacing the typical color words can give the poem a different feeling. An aubergine bruise tells us how old the bruise is  -an aubergine sky would suggest a storm.

4. See how changing the colors of items in your poems may change the mood or the feeling. For example, would the bicycle in “On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins seem as drained and sad if it wasn’t blue?

Get out your pen and show your true colors.

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