How to Use Poetry to Train Leaping Thinking?

by Amy
How to Use Poetry to Train Leaping Thinking?

Leaping thinking, often referred to as divergent thinking or lateral thinking, is the ability to make creative and non-linear connections between ideas. This form of thinking is essential for innovation, problem-solving, and artistic expression. Poetry, with its rich use of metaphor, imagery, and unconventional structures, provides an excellent medium for cultivating leaping thinking. This article explores how poetry can be used to train and enhance this cognitive ability, offering practical techniques and exercises for poets, writers, and anyone interested in boosting their creative potential.

See also: How to Create a Moving Sense of Fragmentation in Poetry?

Understanding Leaping Thinking

Definition and Importance

Leaping thinking is the cognitive process of making unexpected connections and generating original ideas. Unlike linear thinking, which follows a logical, step-by-step progression, leaping thinking involves jumping from one idea to another, often in surprising and innovative ways.

Creativity and Innovation: Leaping thinking is crucial for generating novel solutions and ideas, making it essential for artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Problem-Solving: This type of thinking allows individuals to approach problems from multiple angles, leading to more effective and creative solutions.

Characteristics of Leaping Thinking

Non-Linear Connections: Leaping thinking involves making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts or ideas.

Flexibility: It requires cognitive flexibility, or the ability to shift perspectives and adapt to new information.

Originality: This form of thinking often results in unique and original ideas that differ from conventional approaches.

The Role of Poetry in Cultivating Leaping Thinking

Poetry as a Cognitive Exercise

Poetry challenges the brain in ways that other forms of writing do not. The use of metaphor, symbolism, and unconventional structures encourages the mind to think beyond the literal and explore abstract connections.

Metaphor and Symbolism: By interpreting and creating metaphors, poets practice making connections between disparate ideas.

Imagery: Vivid and unexpected imagery stimulates the imagination and encourages creative thinking.

Form and Structure: Experimenting with different poetic forms and structures can push writers to think outside the box and find new ways to express their ideas.

Emotional Engagement

Poetry often evokes strong emotions, which can enhance cognitive flexibility and creativity. Emotional engagement helps to forge deeper connections between ideas and experiences, fostering leaping thinking.

Emotional Resonance: Engaging with poetry on an emotional level can open up new pathways for creative thought.

Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Writing and reading poetry can enhance empathy and the ability to see things from different perspectives, both of which are important for leaping thinking.

Techniques for Using Poetry to Train Leaping Thinking

Reading and Analyzing Poetry

One of the first steps in using poetry to train leaping thinking is to immerse yourself in the work of established poets. Analyzing their techniques and interpretations can provide valuable insights into the cognitive processes involved.

Diverse Reading: Read a wide range of poetry, from classical to contemporary, and across different cultures and styles. This exposure to various forms and voices can stimulate creative thinking.

Close Reading: Practice close reading by examining the language, structure, and themes of poems in detail. Pay attention to how poets use metaphor, imagery, and symbolism to make unexpected connections.

Example Exercise

Metaphor Analysis: Choose a poem rich in metaphor and spend time analyzing each one. Consider the literal and figurative meanings and how they relate to the poem’s themes. Reflect on how these metaphors connect seemingly unrelated ideas.

Writing Poetry

Writing poetry is a powerful way to cultivate leaping thinking. The process of creating poems encourages you to explore new ideas, experiment with language, and make unconventional connections.

Free Writing: Start with free writing sessions where you write continuously for a set period without worrying about structure or coherence. This practice can help you break free from linear thinking and discover unexpected connections.

Metaphor Creation: Challenge yourself to create new metaphors that link disparate concepts. This exercise trains your brain to see connections where others might not.

Imagery and Sensory Detail: Focus on using vivid imagery and sensory details in your poetry. Try to describe common experiences or objects in new and surprising ways.

Example Exercise

Metaphor Mash-Up: Write a poem where each line contains a metaphor that combines two unrelated ideas. For example, “The moon is a forgotten clock” or “Time dances on broken wings.” Reflect on how these metaphors change your perception of the subjects.

Experimenting with Poetic Forms

Experimenting with different poetic forms can push you to think creatively and find new ways to express your ideas. Traditional forms like sonnets, haikus, and villanelles each have unique constraints that can inspire innovative thinking.

Sonnets: The strict structure of a sonnet can encourage you to think carefully about word choice and thematic development.

Haikus: The brevity of a haiku forces you to convey deep meaning in just a few words, honing your ability to make concise and impactful connections.

Villanelles: The repetitive nature of a villanelle can help you explore variations on a theme and discover new connections through repetition.

Example Exercise

Form Challenge: Choose a poetic form you are unfamiliar with and write a poem within its constraints. Focus on how the form pushes you to think differently about your subject matter and language.

Collaborative Poetry

Collaborative poetry exercises, such as writing with a partner or in a group, can stimulate leaping thinking by introducing multiple perspectives and ideas.

Exquisite Corpse: This collaborative writing game involves each participant writing a line of poetry without seeing the previous lines. The resulting poem often contains surprising and innovative connections.

Group Poems: Work with a group to create a poem, with each person contributing a line or stanza. The collective brainstorming and diverse perspectives can lead to unexpected and creative outcomes.

Example Exercise

Exquisite Corpse: Gather a group of friends or fellow writers and try the exquisite corpse exercise. Reflect on how the collaborative process and the unexpected combinations of lines enhance your creative thinking.

Reflecting on the Process

Reflection is a crucial part of training leaping thinking through poetry. Take time to reflect on your writing process, the connections you’ve made, and how your thinking has evolved.

Journaling: Keep a journal where you document your poetic experiments, reflections, and insights. This practice can help you track your progress and deepen your understanding of leaping thinking.

Workshops and Feedback: Participate in poetry workshops and seek feedback from others. Constructive criticism and different perspectives can help you see your work in new ways and inspire further creativity.

Example Exercise

Reflection Journal: After each poetry writing session, spend 10-15 minutes journaling about the experience. Reflect on the connections you made, the challenges you faced, and any insights you gained about your thinking process.

Case Studies of Poets Known for Leaping Thinking

E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings is renowned for his unconventional use of language, punctuation, and form. His poetry often makes surprising connections and challenges readers to think differently about language and meaning.

Innovative Syntax: Cummings’ innovative syntax and punctuation disrupt traditional reading patterns, encouraging leaping thinking.

Playful Imagery: His playful and inventive imagery creates new associations and connections, stimulating creative thought.


“in Just-“:

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles far and wee

Cummings’ use of unconventional language and imagery encourages readers to see the world in new and unexpected ways.

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s poetry is known for its vivid imagery and emotional intensity. She often makes surprising connections between personal experiences and larger themes, demonstrating leaping thinking.

Metaphorical Depth: Plath’s use of metaphor and symbolism creates deep and often unexpected connections between ideas.

Emotional Resonance: Her ability to convey intense emotions through precise language enhances the impact of her leaping thinking.



Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.
Plath’s vivid and unexpected imagery creates a sense of movement and transformation, reflecting her leaping thinking.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda’s poetry is celebrated for its rich imagery and profound emotional depth. His ability to make surprising connections between everyday objects and existential themes exemplifies leaping thinking.

Sensory Richness: Neruda’s use of sensory details and vivid imagery stimulates the imagination and encourages creative connections.

Symbolic Resonance: His symbolic use of everyday objects creates profound and often surprising insights.


“Ode to My Socks”:

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.

Neruda’s use of unexpected comparisons and rich sensory imagery exemplifies his ability to create profound and delicate connections through leaping thinking.

Practical Applications of Leaping Thinking

Creative Writing and Art

Leaping thinking is essential for creative writing and art, enabling artists to generate original ideas and explore new perspectives.

Storytelling: Use leaping thinking to develop unique plot twists, character relationships, and thematic connections in your writing.

Visual Art: Apply leaping thinking to create innovative compositions, use of color, and symbolic elements in your artwork.

Problem-Solving and Innovation

Leaping thinking can enhance problem-solving skills by allowing you to approach challenges from multiple angles and generate creative solutions.

Brainstorming: Use poetic techniques such as metaphor and imagery to generate new ideas and perspectives during brainstorming sessions.

Innovation: Apply leaping thinking to develop novel products, services, or processes that address unmet needs or solve existing problems in unique ways.

Personal Growth and Reflection

Leaping thinking can also be a powerful tool for personal growth and reflection, helping you to explore your thoughts and emotions more deeply.

Journaling: Incorporate poetic techniques into your journaling practice to explore your experiences and emotions in new ways.

Mindfulness: Use poetry to practice mindfulness and enhance your awareness of the present moment, fostering a deeper connection with your inner self.


Poetry is a powerful tool for training leaping thinking, offering a unique blend of creative expression and cognitive exercise. By engaging with poetry through reading, writing, and experimentation, you can enhance your ability to make unexpected connections and generate original ideas. Whether you are an aspiring poet, a writer, an artist, or simply someone seeking to boost your creative potential, the techniques and principles outlined in this article can help you harness the power of leaping thinking and infuse your work with profound and delicate insights. Through the exploration of language, imagery, and emotion, poetry provides a rich and rewarding path to cognitive flexibility and creativity.

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