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Passions in Poetry

Personal symbols or personal cliches?

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gothicmoth
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since 06-05-2000
Posts 91


0 posted 07-18-2000 01:31 PM       View Profile for gothicmoth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for gothicmoth

As writers, do you find yourself using similar images, words and/or phrases over again in different unrelated poems? If so do they mean the same things each time and how much time elapses between the composition of the poems? Are you aware when it happens and does it make you search for something else to use? Or is it unintentional?
As readers, do you tend to notice similar words or phrases a writer may repeat in different unrelated poems? Do you think of the recycling as a lull in the writer's creativity or do you see it as them alluding to something on purpose?

Portia
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since 05-18-2000
Posts 157


1 posted 07-18-2000 02:19 PM       View Profile for Portia   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Portia

As a writer, I used to re-use certain phrases in prose because I find think it's an apt phrase or there was no better way to catch it. Usually it happened in physical descriptions or settings. Lately, though, my prose has taken on a life of its own and I find myself in this zone in which the words almost happen to me, and then I look back over it and wonder, "Did *I* write that?"

If I am using images or phrases over again in my poetry, I am unaware of it. I think if I saw myself doing it, it would be after the fact, in a review of my work and I would berate myself for not finding something unique.

If I saw it in someone else's poetry though... that's harder. Poetry is so short, generally so concise, that if I were reading a body of work and kept coming across the same phrase, I would have to assume it is an attempt to get the reader to *see this point* in particular, whether it be intentional or unconscious. I dislike the assumption that because a poet writes about divorce, he/she *must* be getting a divorce. But perhaps a recurring phrase or image is something the writer hasn't dealt with, that they need to. Writing can also be meditative. We exorcise our demons this way. That whole concept of, say a word over and over and over and then you start to wonder if it's a real word? Address a demon over and over and over and... ? One can only hope it will go away.

[This message has been edited by Portia (edited 07-18-2000).]
brian madden
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since 05-06-2000
Posts 4532
ireland


2 posted 07-19-2000 05:07 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Hi GM, interesting questions, to the first one OH yes too much in fact that I had to dig out the thesaurus for alternatives. I love certain words and they always seem to be on the tip of my pen when I am writing a poem. I think it is ok to use a theme more than once but not to wear it thin or write a load of poems about it because you will end up making an issue out of it. For example with myself I have written a few (5-6 at less) anti organised religion poems ( dealing with the restrictions, the contradictions and my own unhealthy dose of catholic guilt.) anyway point being it was quickly becoming an issue and I am not big into "issue" poems. I think if possible personal cliches should be avoided I think it is ok to use an image more than once in two or three poems, but it is better to work hard for new images with each poem. Who wants to read a bunch of poems that say almost exactly the same thing? not I for one.
Certain issues will fascinate us, we will write about a topic or poems related to a single topic a number of times and I think this is okay as long as each poem has something new to say and is not repeating
what has already written before.

As for the second part "to notice similar words or phrases a writer may repeat in different unrelated poems" All poets tend to have their own style and preference for certain words so words do tend to crop up again. I think it becomes a problem when the word is used far too much in poems, as I did with the word "frozen" or "soul" so it was back to the thesaurus to find other words to use.




the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself grave visitations
what is it that calls to us?" patti smith


[This message has been edited by brian madden (edited 07-19-2000).]
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