Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gathering my Personal Affections

into my best samsonite, or into the board room
for the required haircut. Misheard or mistaken,

my personal affections look back at me benignly
like a boy reaching for the wrong wrist at the store

looking up with a face that started to say Mommy.
My personal affections roam harmless or hungry,

harried or pointed, sarcastic and sad. They run
in packs some nights, more like bison than cattle,

like large frightened waterbirds on legs jointed
as flowers, I watch for as much as out for them.

(In honor of my students and their wonderfully-strange brains. I see a mummy cake in your future or some eyeball cupcakes.)


Mark said...

"Run in packs, more like bison than cattle" Love that line. How it differs from the ‘pack of wolves’ that a lesser author would have used (Note: that I would have used… LOL). What’s that called, when the original like would have been a cliché but you turn it away from itself and strike onto something new?

Did you kick your cold? Hope so.

a-smk said...

I feel better. It was more a seasicky feeling. Queasy, like taking vitamins on an empty stomach. Thanks for asking. I doubt you are a lesser writer. When you're bit, you're bit. Plus good reading makes for better writing, almost always. I need to remember to drop a lit. mag or two by.

a-smk said...

The cliche thing, I am not sure of its official name. I teach it as a technique, but talk about in terms of revitalizing or redressing the cliche.

Mark said...

Redressing the cliché, I like the sound of that. It’s like the other words find clichés naked and hard to look at.

I get nervous commenting on your blogs, I’m scared that the teacher in you wants to take a red marker to my comments and go “uh-huh, got a dangling participle there… oops, ended that phrase with a preposition… hmmm, uses the ellipses too much…” LOL

Good reading does make better writing, but I would say the following things that I truly believe helped my writing the most (learned each from different classes, so I feel like I really got my monies worth at college):

My English 101 teacher suggested Funk and Wagnals for me and I learned “omit needless words.”

My creative writing teacher told me: Use stronger verbs! She must have drilled it into me a dozen times. She also said “Show don’t tell.

Lastly, my comp-lit teacher told me something that was the single greatest thing to help my writing (this isn’t word for word, but you’ll get the gist): “You have a strong personality, you’ve made friends with everyone in class, what are you scared of? Quit writing passively. It’s like you are a shy wallflower that watches everyone else dance but is too scared to do it yourself.” And man, was she right. I look at my early work and go, whew, that’s so wishy-washy I can still feel the moisture on the page.

Egads, I just went on and on and on…

a-smk said...

Me--with the red marker? Funny. I can be so sloppy if I'm not careful. And "show don't tell." My students would grin at that. Once a class they probably hear it. It is the best advice though. I like what your last teacher said, too. Timidity rarely works in life or on the page. Speaking of: someone's very own business has a lamp to sell today. Someone else will get ready to come b(u)y it.

Mark said...

LOL> I loves me a good pun... So you come b(u)y it and I will be here with bells on (not sure what that really means but i love saying it).