Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Poetics Serendipity

7:32 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Wild World sung by Cat Stevens

Hello, all, and a happy halfway through the week. I notice that most everyone has cooler weather, except the south south-western US. Feel free to share. While I’m waiting, here are some links to explore:

1] Hot off the presses: Penguin’s Vintage Books arm has signed several authors (Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Tyler, Howard Jacobson…) to write novels inspired by several of Shakespeare’s plays. Watch this video to see which plays and hear from the authors about the Hogarth Shakespeare series. The video is a little over four minutes.

2] The semi-colon is the most misunderstood and misused of the punctuation marks (although apostrophes are catching up). It’s also one of my favourites because no other mark implies the same relationship. The Writer’s Circle gives us Finally! An Easy Way To Know When (And How) To Use A Semicolon! at the end of which they have included a TED talk. I found their presentation, in the written part, to be admirably clear and fun to read.

3] Diane Lockward’s October newsletter is out. It’s always worth a read with its poetry, prompt, tips on the craft, and links.

4] This last is for Philly folks, or people who don’t mind driving into Philadelphia. Peter Murphy, of Murphy – Writing Stockton University, is holding a writers’ happy hour and invites anyone in the area to join them for an informal evening of socializing and camaraderie. Draw inspiration and support that comes from being a part of a larger community of writers. The date is October 21st and you’ll find more information on his site. I’ve given you the page with the October events.

Enjoy and I will see you again on Tuesday for our next prompt and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 01/10/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Blazon It!

7:28 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the neighbour’s lawn mower

Hello everyone. I can’t believe August starts in a couple of days. The downside of summer is upon us. Today, I want us to explore Blazons. It’s an old form (13th c.), originally used to detail the various parts of a woman’s body; a sort of catalogue of her physical attributes. The term is taken from the official, written description of the coat of arms, called the ‘blazon of arms,’ a system to denote colours, placement, and styling by using an economy of words.

What does this mean for us? Imagery like we’ve never done imagery! Let me show you a blazon by Andre Breton:

Free Union

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay

The speaker has only reached her fingers! For the rest, if you are curious, go here. The blazon needn’t be positive and can be tongue in cheek. Note Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, where he writes a short blazon listing attributes back handedly [such a rebel, that man].

I see no reason a blazon cannot be written about objects, pets, animals that aren’t pets, pretty much anything that has attributes. The attributes don’t necessarily have to be physical, though those are probably easier to work with. So. Think of someone, or something, List the qualities/aspects of your chosen subject.

To help create images of the more surrealistic kind (should you wish to emulate Breton), consider how each aspect you list affects you sensorily — taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Let your emotions go.

I look forward to your poems. Blazons fascinate me (I have no idea why). I shall see you again, next Tuesday, for a wintery day.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 29/07/2014 in exercises, poetry, Summer


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Thursday Thoughts: Poetic Inversion and the Yoda Effect

9:16 a.m. — San Antonio

A couple of weeks ago I asked if any of you, dear readers, had a topic you wished me to discuss. Viv, of Vivinfrance’s Blog, whom many of you know, had an immediate response: ‘Could you give us your view on poetic inversions – which I was taught to shun, but which sometimes force themselves into a poem.’

This could be a short post. My view: If the poem requires it, do it.

But, let’s look at what a poetic inversion is and why it was, and is, shunned by teachers. In the English language, normal sentence syntax [the order of words in a sentence] is subject, verb, object: I kicked the ball.

But, there are five other possibilities. Glance back at the sentence and see if you can figure them out before reading my list.

I the ball kicked.
Kicked the ball I.
Kicked I the ball.
The ball I kicked.
The ball kicked I.

What happens to each sentence when I shift the order of the words? Two major things: The emphasis shifts and so does the rhythm. Say each one aloud, if your internal ear is not hearing the difference enough. What are teachers so afraid of? With young, or new, writers, teachers want them to develop their internal ear before they take on something that can ruin a poem if a writer cannot hear its effect. That would be what I am calling the Yoda effect: Afraid of the force not, am I.

But, like many of the things I have said to beware of in past Thursday Thoughts, it’s more a case of be aware. Know that you [or the poem] are creating an inversion and the effect of that inversion on what you are writing. If it sounds cheesy to you, probably it will sound the same to a reader. You may choose, for the poem, to do it anyway, but you are doing so with knowledge and deliberation.

Some poets who have used poetic inversion: Shakespeare, often; Milton; Emily Dickinson; Walt Whitman; and the most known for it, e. e. cummings. Go look at some of cummings’ poetry. The poetic inversion is a major device of his.

Why consider using the inversion yourself? For the reasons listed above: you want the emphasis, or focus, placed on a word; or you need to keep a poetic rhythm going; or you want to break a poetic rhythm.

I had such fun writing this post, so at any time, because I will forget to ask, give me a topic you want me to write about and I shall look into it, and if I am able, I shall write about it. Thank you for this one, Viv.

I want to give a shout out to all the people who responded to this Tuesday’s Tryouts to write a poem on something lost. If you haven’t had a chance to read their poems, stop by when you can. If you haven’t posted a poem, it’s never too late. Remember that if you have questions about anything I write, ask. If you think someone will enjoy this, click buttons!

I shall see you tomorrow for the Friday roundup; Tuesday for a second open prompt [whoo hoo!]; and next Thursday for …wow! I don’t know. Can you tell I am on vacation? I usually know two or three topics in advance. I’ll let you know.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 23/06/2011 in poetry, writing


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