Sunday, April 24, 2016


Hello toads,  today I want to connect back to Kerry’s prompt on compound nouns and a comment made by Hedge where she said she often created new ones by herself. So do I sometimes, and it's called a kenning.

This made me think of a prompt I ran a couple of years ago on kennings. According to wikipedia kenning is:

A kenning (Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry.

So as a poetic device this is a complex word (usually a noun) that is used as trope or brief metaphor for poetic effects. This can be for a number of reasons: the imagery itself, the meter or the rhyme, to create a twist. Basically it’s a useful tool that we can add to our toolbox. Make your metaphors short and bouncy,

In English we usually use a hyphen between the words: (for instance whale-road for the sea) but in Germanic language the hyphen often disappears and the words are written together. Actually many existing compound nouns have been been created as a kenning, and at least in Scandinavian languages it is the alive to create new words. If you like to create compound verbs the same way I think it can be even more fun.

I wrote a poem for toads a long time ago for women’s day but I linked up late so very few of you read it I believe.

Unfortunately not like every day

Sweet moon-dancer
and the meal-creator
Our garden-friend,
and diamond-bearer,
Our decision-maker
and unpaid-laborer.
The butterfly-charmer
and home-defender.

Today it's women's day,

like every day should be

In this case I have used several different word combinations that I thought would describe a woman, and thereafter I made a list poem. That’s one way. You are free to use any word or concept and create as many kennings as you like.

The life-cycle of kennings follow the same concept as a metaphor. First a poet create his unique one, then it might become a cliche and finally it might be part of our vocabulary or toolbox of idioms.

So your challenge today.

  • Create a couple of new compound nouns. let them be memorable by funny or lyrical, maybe even cryptic.
  • Use these new compound nouns to create a poem on any topic you like. You might even want to write it on a challenge you have missed.
Link up your new poem (or poems), have fun and read what other poets might have done.


brudberg said...

Good morning all.. I'm curios with what you will come up with shaping words.

Gemma Wiseman said...

I think I have met the challenge - mixing noun and verb compunds.

hedgewitch said...

Ah Bjorn, a great prompt--I tried my hand at this--and it isn't easy either-- when I was reading Snorri Sturluson's Edda--I'll see if I can find it, just for fun.

Ellecee said...

Great challenge, I decided to try something just for fun,,hope it flies :-)

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Hey everyone,

Hope I did justice to the prompt.. sharing my poem "Enigma."
Thank you Bjorn for the wonderful opportunity..!

Lots of love,

Bekkie Sanchez said...

I had no idea there was a word for it "kenning." Very interesting! I'm going for a bike ride to ponder what I'll write when I get back it's a beautiful Sunday morning in California.

I learn so much here I'd like to thank you again and so glad to be writing and learning from all of you!

Hugs! Bekkie

Outlawyer said...

Hey Bjorn--am very tired so tried this but not so thrilled with result--a great prompt though, thanks! k.

De Jackson said...

Loving how often the kenning is coming into play this April. :)

Susie Clevenger said...

I love the prompt! Not sure I mastered kenning, but I tried. :)

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

I've learned a new word and it even starts with my nickname!

Hannah said...

Thank you, Bjorn...I love this kind of thing...I didn't realize there was a name for it!

Bekkie Sanchez said...

Wasn't sure about kenning even after my ride so I looked it up to be sure. I found a few lists of them so I used some from the lists which made it easier. I still had to come up with a subject for my poem. I'm pretty happy with it but without looking it up I had totally misunderstood it.

A very good lesson for this week made me really go deep. I love to learn new things.

Have a good week! Hugs! Bekkie

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I got lots of compound adjectives! The compound nouns were not very startling, I think, but perhaps that doesn't matter. I also realised how many compound nouns we already use and take for granted, which must have originated in just this kind of way. There are one or two of them in my poem too. I am grateful for the prompt largely because of the topic it brought me.

brudberg said...

Thank you for all the contributions... And I do agree that many compound words have originated like this.