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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bittersweet dreams

Whatever did we do before we had cameras on our phones? How did we hang on to the marvellous images we happened upon on our way to the shops?

Perhaps if I’d had a proper camera with me, I might have taken more care over framing and focus and produced a slightly better image of this nightshade plant. But at least the phone was able to capture an idea of the glorious juxtaposition of colours.
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forbidden favourites

Although most people agree that autumn starts with the equinox, which doesn’t fall for another week, it seems that Christmas is already looming, with cards on sale in the shops, and gift catalogues dropping through the letterbox. I never sign up for printed catalogues, but they arrive unsolicited, and offer temptations in the form of all sorts of trinkets and knick-knacks I never knew I needed.

Of course, once you start to buy gifts, some sort of wrapping is required. The latest catalogue offered this interesting set of gift bags:

Gift bag description: "sprinklied with irredecent glitter"

It’s not a charity I had ever thought of supporting, but if I had more time, I might be tempted to offer my proof-reading skills at a reduced rate.
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gossamer thoughts

cobwebs

There have been a few news pieces recently about the world’s largest spider’s webs. There was one back in September, where the web in question – found in Madagascar – seems to be that of an individual spider and is the circular ‘doily’ type.

Then there was the huge sheet-like web found in Texas recently, that is more likely the work of many spiders.

I have no idea how many spiders there are down in my laundry room, but they have been busy, as is clear from the photo (which really doesn’t do justice to the sun sparkling on the dust motes caught in the filigree of the web).
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forbidden words II

I’ve no time at the moment to write what I want to about geographical limits to poetry and how far we should dumb down for our (international) readers – a follow on from my doubts and the comments about gossamer.

So instead, I’ve dug out the piece I wrote as a response to the usenet challenge to write a poem including the words – love / soul (or spirit) / insane / shard / tendril / darkness – or variations from the same roots (e.g. as ‘insanity’). It’s an old piece and it’s not the best poem I’ve ever written. Even so, I admit to being fond of it, and of Aunt Emmeline.
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forbidden words

When I posted the poem returning, a while back, I’ll admit that it wasn’t because I think it’s particularly good. It just seemed to suit the mood and the weather.

One of the problems I see with it is the “poesy”: the self-conscious and unnecessary use of poetic words. I think that including the word gossamer and the phrase in her wake is pretty much unforgivable in so short a piece. The latter could easily be replaced by behind her without losing any of the meaning. After all, whoever “she” is, she’s almost certainly not a boat.
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