This past week, presumably like most of the population of the UK, I’ve been thinking about snow.
Sitting with a friend, watching the white flakes whirl in the wind the other day prompted the inevitable conversation about whether the snow would…
And then we were stuck. What question were we trying to ask?
Continue reading “pitching & sticking”
I’ve been feeling a little washed out for much of this week, so was interested to read on the BBC that there is likely to be a lot of ‘flu around this winter.
As it’s only mid September, I seem to be ahead of the game and hope that means I won’t have to go through this again later in the season.
One sentence in the article particularly caught my eye. (I note it has been corrected since I took the screenshot).
Continue reading “colourless”
Wondering what to write – and, indeed, wondering whether I actually would manage to get whatever I wrote posted as the phone company have let me down – I remembered the “Thing That Must Not Happen” as described in Dorothy Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise:
Now, when you see in a newspaper a blank white space, bearing the legend: “THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR SO-AND-SO LTD.,” it may mean nothing very much to you, but to those who know anything of the working of advertising agencies, those words carry the ultimate, ignominious brand of incompetency and failure. So-and-so’s agents have fallen down on their job; nothing can be alleged in mitigation. It is the Thing That Must Not Happen.
Continue reading “intentionally left blank”
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post inspired by the words “poems are hard”, which appeared on a local pub chalkboard. It’s not just the poems themselves that are hard, though: it’s even hard to get people to agree on what poetry is.
Some people think that poetry should deal with the big issues of Life, Love and Death, others that it should be all kittens and flowers, sweetness and light; some think it should make us look at familiar things and occurrences as if they were new; others that it should make the personal universal; some think it should have structure and be carefully crafted, others that it should rhyme, others that it should be written “from the heart” and therefore anything goes.
Continue reading “not nice”
Novice poets are frequently warned about clichés; sometimes, though, it’s hard to know exactly what the people doing the warning have in mind. Is a cliché the same as an idiom? Is it just a common collocation of words? Can a single word be a cliché?
(In answer to that last question, I’ve posted several times in the past on the subject of “forbidden words” in poetry.)
The thing about clichés is that they mean the writer hasn’t done more than scratch the surface. And for poetry that matters a lot more than for some other types of writing.
Continue reading “clichés and coincidences”
If you ask for advice about writing a presentation, one recommendation is likely to come up time and again:
Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them what you’ve told them.
This three-part cyclical format is far more likely to get your message through to your audience than a simple linear thread.
I’ve long been an advocate of the idea of poetry as “the art of patterning”, but the more I think about it, the more I see that patterns play a part in effective communication in general, not just poetry.
Continue reading “round in circles”
I first came across the word “palimpsest” years ago, when I was training to teach English as a foreign language: in one of the classes we were given a list of words that we were not expected to know and asked to chat with a partner and guess their meanings.
Presumably, the idea was to simulate the stress suffered by the students we would encounter once we qualified, but, of course, our situation was vastly different as we were all native speakers and there was really no great pressure to get the answers right, anyway.
Continue reading “roost, rooster, roostest”