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Opposite Poems

Opposite Poems

In his book, 'How To Write Poetry,' Paul Janeczko presents the idea of opposite poems. Paul suggests they could also be referred to as antonym poems. This is wordplay and it's fun to try.

Here are some examples Paul provides to help us see very clearly how these short little poems work.

I think the opposite of chair
Is sitting down with nothing there

What is the opposite of kind?

A goat that butts you from behind

Paul Janeczko

You will  notice the poems are written in rhyming couplets. They can be extended so long as you remember to write in couplets. Paul shows us how this is done.

What is the opposite of new?
Stale gum that's hard to chew
A hot-dog roll as hard as rock
Or a soiled and smelly forgotten sock

You might notice that some of Paul's opposite Poems begin with a question. The remainder of the poem answer the question posed.

Opposite poems are a challenge, but it is a challenge worth trying. Not every thing has an opposite and not every word has an easy to find rhyming partner. 

It might be a good idea to begin by brainstorming a list of feelings, thoughts and objects that clearly possess opposites. Make a quick list in your writer's notebook. Adjectives are a good place to begin when looking for opposites.
Paul advises young poets not to be satisfied writing all two line Opposite Poems. Try and challenge yourself to compose a four line poem. 

So, with Paul Janeczko's sound advice in my head, I had some fun creating my own opposite poems

I think the opposite of skinny
Is the bottom on my Auntie Minnie

What is the opposite of dark?
A flashlight beam- bold and stark

What is the opposite of  fit
Someone who prefers to sit

The opposite of sweet, I think
Are my brother's shoes-they really stink

The opposite of underwear
Are the clothes on top, we wear out there

And if purple has an opposite
I'm certain I can't think of it

The very opposite of happy
Is someone cranky, nasty, snappy
It's screaming, yelling, don't come near
It's go away, don't want you here

The very opposite of morning
Is late at night when I start yawning
It's darkness falling around
When nightfall covers all the ground

Finally, I give you this poem by Richard Wilbur.

Some Opposites
What is the opposite of riot?
It’s lots of people keeping quiet.

The opposite of doughnut? Wait
A minute while I meditate.
This isn’t easy. Ah, I’ve found it!
A cookie with a hole around it.

What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

The opposite of a cloud could be
A white reflection in the sea,
Or a huge blueness in the air,
Caused by a cloud’s not being there.

The opposite of opposite?
That’s much too difficult. I quit.

Opposite Poems, give them a try... 


  1. Love these. Thanks for sharing them. I think my favourite image is of cookie as the opposite of doughnut.

    1. Thanks Sally. These poems do bring an inherent challenge, but they are fun to compose.

    2. Methinks that would be mine, too. Looking forward to trying some of these myself!

  2. These are such fun! I can't wait to introduce opposite poems to my students and I'm looking forward to playing around with them myself. (Poor Aunt Minnie to be immortalized thus!)

    1. Hi Molly, have fun! Afterall, poetry is about wordplay.

  3. Great post, Alan! I enjoyed these examples. Looks like fun to try!

    1. Thank you Tabatha. I urge you you to give it a try.

  4. Love these, and your "opposite of fit", Alan. They look easy, but imagine they aren't, as you said.

    1. You're right Linda. There is a challenge, but what a buzz when you find the words that fit as opposites.

  5. So fun to read. But a challenge to create!

    1. Thank you Julieanne. Well, we all need challenges. Go for it!

  6. Alan, I want to follow your posts. How can I do that?

    1. Hi Joy, you can subscribe at my writing blog 'Living Life Twice' which has a link to this poetry blog. Glad you want to join in on the journey.

  7. Such fun! I'll have to try this with my students in the Fall.

    1. Hi Tara, I have no doubt you will give this a go and that you and your students will produce words that sing.

  8. Fun! I'll have to try one of these!

    1. It is indeed fun Mary Lee. Jump right in and create your own, I say.

  9. Oh no! Oh yessss! This style is simply difficult! It really makes you focus on the pictures your words are making.
    Have written some myself and now ready to give the kids a go ... will let you know.

  10. I love these opposite poems. I am definitely going to try this. Thanks for sharing such wonderful examples, yours, Paul Janeczko's and Richard Wilbur's.

    1. One of my favourite compositions Molly. I can't wait to include it in an anthology.


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