enough said

Somewhere, during the last couple of weeks, I saw or heard the word “ample” and it stuck in my mind.

It’s not what I’d call an uncommon word; in fact, I’m sure I used to use it and come across it relatively frequently. But, try as I might, I really couldn’t remember when I last had occasion to describe something as ample.

I spent about a quarter of a century living in Spain, not among ex-pats, but among Spanish speakers. So I was mostly either speaking in Spanish, or speaking to non-native speakers. Continue reading “enough said”

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.
Continue reading “round in circles”

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.
Continue reading “word association”

biscuits and other ambiguities

coffee and ginger biscuits
When I’ve quoted Sandburg – “poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits” – in the past, I have always felt the biscuits were there to represent the everyday, functional side of life: I’ve always assumed he meant Rich Tea, not Hobnobs.

But apparently yesterday was National Biscuit Day, which set me thinking: as I am not really sure which nation was celebrating, I don’t know whether the biscuits in question are the ones you eat with morning coffee or with gravy. And even if it were definitely a British celebration, they might be cheesy biscuits rather than gingersnaps.

Now I am wondering whether Sandberg was thinking of American biscuits – the plain scones eaten with thick sausage gravy – with all the social and regional connotations that they bring to bear. Suddenly hyacinths have become the clear and unambiguous aspect of the quote: a natural Truth alongside the unnecessarily complex human view of things.
Continue reading “biscuits and other ambiguities”

lost in translation

Sadly, the utter magnificence and glory of this rhododendron has been lost in my attempt to translate it into a photograph.

pink rhododendron
I, too, am – or should be – lost in translation, as I have a deadline approaching at a worrying rate of knots.