clichés and coincidences

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.
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round in circles

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.
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.
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roost, rooster, roostest

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.
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neigh-saying

This early in the year it probably behooves me to be positive, but it’s been a bit of a grey day and I’m saddled with updating the blog, although I’m bridling at the thought.

The big hitch is that my head seems to be mane-ly stuffed with sawdust – the ideas are hardly jockeying for position in the race to be written. Indeed, progress has completely stalled for the last few hours and I’m beginning to think wild horses couldn’t drag a blog post out of me today.
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hazy thoughts

Just that: “hazy thoughts” and not many words to go with them.

(If you want some more words, I suggest you go back and read a much earlier post – from February 2011 – also with the title hazy thoughts, where I ponder the concepts of mist, fog and heat haze, and how both weather and the words we use for it have personal connotations.)

memories beginning with “c”

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of a cyclamen flower and pondered why I always forget the name. Today’s flower also begins with “c”, but for some reason I find it far easier to remember the word clematis.

Considering this for a few moments raises the question of how, given the range of shapes, sizes and colours the name can be applied to, I know the flower in the photo is a clematis.
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word association

Memory is an odd thing. And linguistic memory is perhaps as odd as any.

I know I should remember the name of the flowers in the photo as I’ve grown plenty over the years, but every time I see them I have to sort through and reject a few other words that come to mind first.

They definitely aren’t coelacanths.

And I’m fairly sure they have nothing to do with Clytemnestra.
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