Make the ordinary strange

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The riddle is a poetic game of metaphor. Riddle poems explore the strangeness of ordinary objects and help you to see the world in a new way. Riddles also challenge you to find the right tension between revealing and concealing — you want to provide your reader with enough clues without giving away the answer.

  1. Choose an everyday object that you are familiar with. Household appliances, fruits and vegetables, natural phenomena, and items of technology all work great. Examples: a pair of shoes, an alarm clock, coffee maker, lipstick, the sun or moon, a volcano, an anchor.
  2. Describe the object as if you are an alien, encountering it for the first time. How would you describe this “strange object” if you were observing it in its natural environment? Where does your object live? Does it have a smell, taste, colour, or shape? What sounds might it make? Is it always the same, or does it change at different times of the day?
  3. End your poem with a taunt to the reader. If you’ve written your poem in the first person, you can channel the Anglo-Saxon poets who declared, “Say what I am called."