Recipe for a Winning Poem

Getting into the spirit with Borobi, at the Queen’s Baton Relay.

With the Commonwealth Games fast approaching, I’m sharing a favourite recipe – for a Sport Star poem. You can’t fail to cook up some winning words!

This recipe requires a mix of metaphors – so we probably should talk about how to choose a metaphor.

A metaphor is a comparison between two things, based on resemblance or similarity, without using “like” or “as”. We use metaphors to create a strong visual image – so choose comparisons that create vivid pictures, and sound appealing. Don’t pick a cliché – that’s already been done.


Recipe for a Sport Star Poem:

Sport Star’s Name

Sport Star is… an animal
Sport Star is… an instrument
Sport Star is… a transport
Sport Star is… a tool
Sport Star is… a weather
S/he is ……………………….


Recipe poems are great to use in the classroom, because they give a start-point, and structure – but you can spice them up with creativity! For example;

Michael Phelps (short version)

Michael Phelps is
a killer whale.
Michael Phelps is
a set of crashing cymbals.
Michael Phelps is
a supersonic rocket.
Michael Phelps is
a pool cleaner.
Michael Phelps is
a raindrop.
He is the greatest
Olympian of all time.


Michael Phelps (extended version)

Michael Phelps is a killer whale
slicing through the ocean
in pursuit of frantic seals.
Michael Phelps is a set of
crashing cymbals building tension
in a dramatic orchestral performance.
Michael Phelps is a supersonic rocket
soaring into outer space –
returning to his own galaxy.
Michael Phelps is a pool cleaner
gone ballistic, slurping everything
in the water.
Michael Phelps is a raindrop… a stream…
a waterfall… crashing and thundering
triumphant down Mount Spitz.
He is an ordinary boy who defied
school bullies and conquered the world –
the greatest Olympian of all time.

Poetry © Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved.


Both poems follow the recipe. Both poems are right! The second poem just spices it up more.

(Yes, I know Michael Phelps isn’t in the Commonwealth – and he’s retired. It’s just an example. Incidentally, I wrote this poem after the 2008 Olympic Games – which is crazy, considering how much more he then went on to achieve.)

Now it’s your turn in the kitchen. Choose your sport star, and get cooking. Don’t roast them – or make them stew… Let them sizzle like the stars they are! (Feel free to share your poem, either in the comments below, or through my ‘Contact’ form. I’d love to see it!)

You might also like to kick back and savour a sporty verse novel I cooked up, (released in 2015) about two brothers, Shaun and Toby. Here’s a little taste…


“Only a skilled writer can craft so few words into free verse poems which, when sequenced, form a narrative which is engaging, heartwarming and inspiring all at once. On Track ticks all the right boxes for me in terms of a class novel study.”
Megan Daley (Children’s Books Daily)

“This book will ring true for anyone who has ever participated in an Australian sports carnival. The poetry is so well crafted and the story is heart breaking, heart warming and accessible to anyone, whether or not they like sports.”
Younger Sun Bookshop

You’ll find more information about ‘On Track’ under the Kat’s Books dropdown tab.

To find out what else is on the poetry menu, click over to My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi will be collecting the links to the #PoetryFriday round-up… on Friday!


  1. Metaphors are such fun. Love your lines: “Choose your sport star, and get cooking. Don’t roast them – or make them stew… Let them sizzle…” Thanks for the recipe and two examples of different ways to sizzle it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think my comments on your post might be getting lost in cyberspace? This is what I would post, if I could, Kimberly; ‘The Sculptor’ by Nikki Grimes is such a crafted poem. Beautiful! I think my favourite ‘line’ would be; ‘hard work is the clay dreams / are molded from’ – but there’s just so much to love about the word choice and placement – the voice and flow – of this whole poem.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Kat, so many congratulations on your new book! When I think of Michael Phelps, I always think of his giant feet! And doesn’t he have lungs (or heart?) with a greater capacity than normal that makes him biologically better for swimming? Cool. Nice job with your “recipe.” You should send Mr. Phelps a copy. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not a new book, Irene – just including it for teachers who might be looking for sporty texts to link in with the Commonwealth Games. 🙂 Michael Phelps is a giant in many ways – and perfectly powered for swimming, it would seem.


  3. Good Morning, Kat! I also love the photo of you that leads this post. Poem recipes are such a good idea…..especially for kids. I think I might use this idea with some middle schoolers soon. Stay tuned. I see that the second poem is spiced up more. I like the sleekness of the first poem a bit better. Isn’t it amazing how the same idea can be so different? Thanks for the teaching moment. I’m off to do some word cooking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – great for loved ones, too. I have a recipe for a Dad poem that includes the line ‘something funny Dad has said or done’. (Because recipe poems don’t just have to be built on metaphors.) Kids love it!

      By the way, I have just put a tweak in my post, because ‘On Track’ isn’t a new release. It’s from 2015 – but I mentioned it because of its sporty link with the Games, starting next week. Sorry for the confusion! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of those forms–recipes–that will work in just about every classroom for every student, and I love the two versions that will help kids see how elaboration is really worth the extra effort. I hope you’re putting this out there for general use…I plan to adjust it a little bit when we write poems as part of a biography project about “accomplished Americans.” Thanks for joining in this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s what I love most about recipes, Heidi – the fact that they enable success for all writers. And so much creativity! (And of course, poets can also rearrange the order of the ingredients – to change it up a bit more.) Have fun with it! I look forward to seeing what your students cook up!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Both these poems are such fun! Since I’m not sure I can pull the name (much less more information) of a sports star out of my head, I may have to jazz up your recipe with some other stars. I’m thinking Elizabeth Freidman (I’m currently reading a biography of her–The Woman Who Smashed Codes) might be someone to write about!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your recipe seems like a great way to introduce and play with metaphors. I love how you give two examples for mentor poems. I agree with Kay, I can’t do the sports star thing, but your recipe is so flexible that it might be fun to take this in another direction. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

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