Dear Gather Glitterati:
Itâ€™s Poetics Week here at SunWinks!Â Weâ€™ve gotten two, count them, two wonderful responses to our prompt of two weeks ago on Metaphysical Conceits.Â Â Theyâ€™re both by me, but never mind that. [Aug. 13 Oops! After all this, I found--no thanks to Gather--Stacey U.'s response to the Metaphysical Conceit prompt!]
The point is, I sure had fun writing those two poems.Â I feel like I could write them by the dozen.Â Itâ€™s a liberating feeling when a new idea opens up whole new vistas of creativity.
The point is, all of you kind readers get to share this journey of discovery with me.
The point is, the last year or so since I jumped back into Gather with both metric feet has been one of the most fertile periods in my writing life.Â Just being in this milieu of like-minded people, having a role as mentor and exemplar, having a wonderfully supportive audience for my poems, stories, and humor pieces has been an empowering, invigorating, and transformative experience.Â Itâ€™s its own reward.Â I donâ€™t need the constant validation of having people respond to my prompts every single week. You have your own lives.Â I get it.
(Maybe youâ€™re on vacation.Â Maybe you were just intimidated by the mere words â€œMetaphysical Conceitâ€;Â maybe if Iâ€™d said, â€œThis weekâ€™s topic is Bizarre Metaphorsâ€â€¦Â Maybe my misanthropy and social ham-handedness has, as it invariably does, caught up with me, and youâ€™re sick and tired of me and donâ€™t love me anymore...Â Another person, not cursed with my Olympian self-awareness and self-loathing might regard the phenomenon as merely a statistical anomaly and dive into the new topic for the week without a momentâ€™s hesitation...)
THIS WEEKâ€™S TOPIC (he said without a momentâ€™s hesitation) is neologisms. Neologism is just a fancy word for making up a new word. I have several topics in mind for the next several weeks which will be designed to encourage you to think about the sound of the languageâ€”the sound of your writing. The aural element of poetry.
Rhyme does not make poetry.Â Formal structure does not make poetry, not even formal poetry.Â Sentiment does not make poetry.
Poetry, not just modern poetry, but poetry by definition is characterized by:
- Economy of expression.Â A poem uses a minimum of words.Â William Carlos Williams describes a poem as a small machine which would, like any machine, be crippled by the removal of even one of its parts.
- Rhythm.Â Not meter.Â Rhythmic language.Â Language that has a musicality.Â Language that flows off the tongue.Â Language that imparts a feeling and mood entirely independent of its literal meaning.
- Imagery.Â Sensory flashes of insight.Â Instantaneous word pictures (or appeals to other senses), like movie frames, which speak directly to the heart or the psyche.Â Very often these will be metaphorical, but they can be merely symbols or even just telling details.
So, the poet endeavors to communicate to us an obscure, profound truth by means of words, not just what they literally mean, but what they evoke, what they signify, and what they sound like.
[See below* for a very fine definition of poetry by Babette Deutsch, and see her book, linked to there, for definitions of poetry by Auden, Coleridge, Hopkins, Shelley, William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, and more.]
Which brings us back to our topic for today, neologisms. Coining a new word forces you to think about what the word sounds like apart from its literal meaning.Â Why?Â Obviously, because it doesnâ€™t have a literal meaning!Â Itâ€™s not in the dictionary!
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
hist Â Â Â whist
witches and tingling
hob-a-nobÂ Â Â Â hob-a-nob
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestessâ€¦
Expert texpert, choking smokers, donâ€™t you think the joker laughs at you?...
Call your doctor - call your shrinkÂ
Western science she strictly rinkydinkÂ
They all masissi but we hang toughÂ
Apsatively gonna help you beat that stuff
Poetry: Write a poem containing at least one neologismâ€”at least one word which you made up.Â Think about how the word conveys the meaning and feeling you want to convey, in the context of the poem, just by the sound of it, and perhaps by the real words that it sounds like.
Prose:Â See last weekâ€™s edition of SunWinks!
PutÂ SunWE in the title and tags.
- Indicate in some way which devices or techniques I should be paying attention to. (If responding to todayâ€™s prompt, put Neologism in the title field.)
- This prompt does not turn into a pumpkin a week (or even two) from today.Â If your piece isnâ€™t done in the next week or two, get it in when you can.Â This is supposed to be fun.
- I will comment on every submission and include a link to it in the next column.
- If you would like a little more academic critique--but still very friendly and positive--include the word "rigorous" in your post (e.g. "rigorous critique wanted").
Responses to previous prompts are linked to below.Â Let me know if I missed yours.
Responses: Â Anonymous Narrator/No Character POV
*From Babette Deutschâ€™s definition of poem:
It is chiefly distinguished by the feeling that dictates it and that which it communicates, the economy and resonance of the language, an imaginative power that integrates, intensifies, and enhances experience.Â These qualities are found only intermittently in prose, and one of the notable features of a poem is that it cannot be paraphrased without injury to its full meaning.
And from Deutschâ€™s definition of poet:
A maker, in its first sense, who works with words.Â The poet is a person of sensibility who uses words to discover and explore the world, both inner and outer.Â He finds out the quality of an experience, great or trivial, terrible or gay, by talking, perhaps by singing, to himself.Â He tries to re-create and so to extend the experience; at the same time he attempts to understand it.Â The poem is the way in which he makes these efforts, as it is also the result of them.Â It is the bridge between the world and himself, across which the reader walks for a livelier, a wider, or a deeper view.
Â© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Â Please share this on Gather.com, and elsewhere on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy. Â Doug's latest book is The Depressed Guy's Book of Wisdom from Chipmunka Publishing.
Doug's Gather Group is Depression and Creativity, devoted to creative writing about depression and related illnesses, and creative writing as therapy. Â Please consider joining. Â You can read more of Doug's posts there, or here.