Tag Archives: writing

Novels come, novels go…ish

29 Apr

I feel like Sisyphus.  The boulder goes up, and the boulder comes down.  Ad nauseum et infinitum.  I’m speaking, of course, about writing a novel.

This current project is one that I’ve had kicking around in my head for over two years.  It has been fermenting in there, sealed against contaminants, waiting to mature into something worthy of consumption.  I think it’s close.  But getting the damn cask unplugged has proved…difficult.  With any luck in the next month I’ll be able to pound through the last 1/3 of the manuscript so that I can get down to the real work of sculpting the inane gibberish into something momma Berlin would be proud of.  Something she wouldn’t set on fire out of spite.  Maybe if I hide the matches first.


Rule One

16 Apr

Now that I’m editing a journal I’m beginning to notice commonalities in the poems we reject.  The simplest mistake I see is the presence of the unutterable phrase.  The phrase that no one in the history of the English language ever has or ever would have said.  The phrase that is not merely semantically questionable, but that if you said it out loud you’d immediately be hauled off to the mad house.  Phrases like:

  • chair is loud
  • wise hair
  • Ambidextrous hunger

Poetry should be composed of organic language.  For this to be the case, phrases like the above must be banished from our compositional repertoires.  While “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” makes for a useful object lesson in syntax vs semantics, it has no place in poetry.  In response to this blight of meaningless phrases, I suggest the one rule of poetic grammar:

  1. All phrases in a poem must be utterable.

All phrases in a poem must be something that could actually be said, out loud, by a person speaking naturally.  They need not necessarily be used that way, but if the phrase is unnatural gibberish, it has no role in poetry.