The Writing Toolkit

Amanda Gorman

Lesson time 18:16 min

Amanda teaches you some of the key rhetorical tools that lead to powerful poetic writing.

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Topics include: The Writing Toolkit * First Techniques: "Ship’s Manifest" *. Lyrical Techniques: “The Miracle of Morning” * Line Techniques: “Alarum” * Exercise: “Fury & Faith” *


[MUSIC PLAYING] AMANDA GORMAN: I think with poetry, it's really easy to perceive it as this craft that is abstract and nebulous and large because it's not necessarily the same type of system of logic that might be rooted in mathematics or physics. But what I always say to people is that writing is still a craft. There still are mechanics. There still are modes of understanding and training within it. And it's especially important that we understand different tools of writing so we can bring this thing that feels larger than life back down to Earth and find a way to access it. [MUSIC PLAYING] Whoever you may be, knowing rhetorical devices is a great tool for communication. A rhetorical device is just a way of saying something. These are really just some tools, instruments, mechanics, that so many poets use in their poems. And being able to identify them, name them, will help you use them in your own poems. So even if you're not looking to become a professional poet, it will help you write stronger essays, do better in interviews. It's really an exceptional tool for just self-expression. So everyone should know them. When you first learn these types of writing tools, they might feel a bit strange or new or unfamiliar to you. For me, I'll be 100% honest with you, I didn't really learn rhetorical devices in a formal setting. But I would spend so much time reading poems that I would kind of identify what the poem was doing without knowing, oh, that's called anaphora, oh, that's called enjambment. And I remember that moment when I started learning more about how to identify these terms, thinking, oh, all these things I've been thinking in my head as that thingamajiggy was actually alliteration. That was actually meter. And so I think knowing the names isn't required, but it is encouraged. Because it does open up the discussion for you to think clearly and purposefully about revision. [MUSIC PLAYING] So we are going to dive a bit deeper into looking for these tools, these rhetorical devices. I'm going to be looking at some of my poems. And as we read it, we're going to pause every time a new rhetorical device comes up and talk about what is that rhetorical device? and what is it doing here in this poem? So I'm going to start with the first poem of the collection, which is called "Ship's Manifest." So I'm going to read the second half of the poem and just focus on that. "Our greatest test will be our testimony. This book is a message in a bottle. This book is a letter. This book does not let up. This book is awake. This book is a wake." So just focusing on the single part of the verse, some of the rhetorical devices that I use, primarily, one would be metaphor. Metaphor is a really popular poetic device through which you connect two things which might seem different. It's different from a simile, which uses words such as "like" or "as." So a metaphor would be-- this is not in the bo...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author. Electrifying performer. The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Amanda Gorman has revitalized poetry as a unifying form of expression and catalyst for social justice. Now she’s teaching you her deeply personal approach to writing. She’ll help you find your poetic purpose, fight through revisions, and prepare for performance. Discover poetry’s transcendent power to open minds and create change.

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Amanda Gorman

Award-winning Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman teaches you how to harness the power of poetry to become a more thoughtful, compassionate person.

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