Graphic provided by Jessica GoodfellowJessica Goodfellow’s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015) and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014)Her chapbook, A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland, won the 2006 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, and NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. Jessica received the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal, as well as the Linda Julian Essay Award and the Sue Lile Inman Fiction Prize, both from the Emrys Foundation. Her work was made into a short film by Motionpoems (May 2015) and screened at the Minneapolis/St Paul International Film Festival and AWP 2015. Jessica has graduate degrees from Caltech and the University of New England. She lives and works in Japan. Learn more at www.jessicagoodfellow.com/ and www.jessicagoodfellow.blogspot.com.

Jessica Goodfellow talks about sound (and onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and homophones) in “Chance of Precipitation” and “Crows, Reckoning.”

Chance of Precipitation

By Jessica Goodfellow

Rain’s tonal ticker tape
tarmac tarantella
rooftop timpani
water glitterati
articulate in triplicate.

River, all glissando
liquid limerick
wet tessellated
littoral lateral lullaby.

Ocean’s hush-hush hoodoo
whispering womb
chez chartreuse chanteuse
fugue soothed in blue
a wish awash in white noise.

The insomniac longs to transliterate
rain into a human alphabet—
French, maybe. A lullaby, a chanson,
a hymn. A baptism of sleep
as unstable as water.

[This was originally appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal and was later included in The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014).]

Crows, Reckoning

     By Jessica Goodfellow 

A crow remembers who crowded it out of the trash can,
who cast at it sticks and rocks and rockets fashioned from bottles.
Long after you have forgotten, the crow remembers your face,
the space between your eyes, the rise of your cheek,
your beakless maw, and with caw both credo and cri de coeur,
the crow causes you to recall that gardens are, by their nature,
not nature, but the cult of cranium over creation,
a human rebuke cloaked in clover and cockscomb and crocus.
A crow says, If a garden is not god-wrung, then who
seeded the Garden of Eden, crux of the human cradle,
till ceded by Adam and even then who, do you suppose,
forespoke the stain of Cain if not a crow, or a murder
of crows.  

[This was originally published in diode. It was later included in Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple, 2015).]

Writing Prompts

  1. Find a spot and close your eyes for 5 minutes or so. Listen. Then, write down the sounds you are hearing.
  2. Think of a place you are familiar with and describe it in sound. Use your sounds to create a poem.

Definitions of Terms

Onomatopoeia happens when a word mimics the sound something makes.

Alliteration is very noticeable when you see words in a sequence that all start with the same letter (like Goodfellow’s “tonal ticker tape tarmac”). It can also happen when you have two or more stressed syllables with the same sound group (like Goodfellow’s “cranium over creation”).

Assonance can be heard when vowels rhyme (see stanza 1 of “Chance of Precipitation” and listen for the long a).

Homophones are word that sound the same (they may or may not be spelled the same way), but they have different meaning.

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