Poetry has many tools: Alliteration,, Rhyme, Rhythm, etc. But for me, the Metaphor provides poetry with a richness of expression that few other devices/styles can. Really, any style of poem can benefit from rich metaphors. The truth is that finding likenesses in unlike objects/thoughts/sentiments can also provide writers with a way towards expression that few other tools can.
I’ve often taught writing workshops in various venues. Now, while I strongly believe that all art is curative, restorative, and empowering; I focus my teaching efforts on writing because it may be difficult to come across other art supplies in prisons or addiction rehab centers. However, a pen and some paper are usually available. Writing (especially reflective writing) provides a means towards understanding behaviors. Since, by my definition, a personality is a set of repeated behaviors, reflective writing writing can lead to understanding one’s own personality. Really, the question: Who am I? is at the core of reflective writing.
So what’s metaphor got to do with understanding behaviors? If we see first: That a metaphor is composed of a tenor and a vehicle; and, second: Understand the function of each component, we can find meaning of specific behaviors.
The tenor construct is the thing we wish to symbolize through a metaphor. The vehicle is the means through which we wish to express it. For example, a bottle could be the vehicle through which the tenor, alcohol abuse, is expressed. I’ll leave it for another day to develop this metaphor, but I think it’s clear that in understanding metaphors, we can come to learn how to express aspects of ourselves that we may not be capable of accessing or understanding without symbols that metaphors provide.
Again, all art is healing and empowering. But once we learn to write metaphors that are meaningful, that which may otherwise be inexpressible can come to life. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see the clinical implications and implementations of metaphor development, but I’ll leave that to another day.
If anyone wants help in understanding the power of metaphors, please let me know….