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Category: Language

Using Archaisms: A Question of Good Taste

When and how should writers use archaic words? In what context, for what use, and to what effect? Some, even  most people in the writing/publishing business, will tell you that you should avoid archaic words altogether. And so you should, if you cannot be sure that you are using them artfully. But this is true of all words; you should never use a word that you cannot use artfully, if art is what you are making. On the other hand, if you can use a word artfully that is not in… Read more Using Archaisms: A Question of Good Taste

Five Poems: Poem 1, Dance

I’ve pretty much been writing a poem a day for a while. So far I’ve been able to salvage 5. Dance When he whirls her round and round her patterned waist rat-tatts his hands. Her mind is oppositely wound and cannot spin with beer and glands surrender to a lilting sound and yield a body for a flower. She wants a word of power. What brief and commonplace return does he expect he can extract with mutterings of burn and yearn? What deep attention she’d exact – he ought to… Read more Five Poems: Poem 1, Dance

The Trouble With Poetry

The trouble with writing poetry is that, take away this need to be a poet, – to write something recognized as poetry in the eyes of others – and I find a deeper and more primary need. Call it my principle. This is a responsive need. Something needs to be said. I need to say it. I haven’t found anyone yet who can help me do that. People apply superficial categories to poetry. Old-fashioned and modern form, somehow, a dichotomy that blots out consideration of the basic question: has the… Read more The Trouble With Poetry

Formal Poetry

What is form? It is the end result of something. It is the shape something gets into when all its elements have been put in order. Form is the vessel of meaning. Apply disorder to a work of meaning, and watch all the meaning leak out. I would love to point out that language cannot work without form – that the English sentence is a form as demanding as a sonnet in its own way – that it’s as natural to human beings to speak in form as it is… Read more Formal Poetry

Jesus, Taker Of Souls

Jesus, you are the taker of souls, you are the secret thief of souls. Under cover of night you steal your daughter from pirates who curse and strike the air. Jesus, you are the divine piper and every soul who hears you throws away his living and runs after you leaving his winding-sheet in the road. Jesus, you are the all-loved man. Masked in darkness, you draw out the soul of a dying man from its lifelong home. Though he is terrified he surrenders. Jesus, you are the taker of… Read more Jesus, Taker Of Souls

Beware the Doo-mious Mama-snatch…

Forget the experts for a moment – the truly wonderful thing about baby talk is that my baby loves it! No, he doesn’t seem to know it’s silly. And in fact I’m not sure it is. Like everything Johnny and I do together, it’s quite serious. Not glum, dull, drudgish, or somber. Serious as in meaningful. I recently read an article from a University extension newlestter suggesting that some babytalk is necessary, natural, and useful. Calling a dog a doggie would help to emphasize the ‘g’ sound to an as-yet undiscriminating ear. Calling… Read more Beware the Doo-mious Mama-snatch…