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obliterated decency, and done
what I can
to carve truth
from my own flesh.

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I recently found the world’s first coherent YouTube comment:

We should give a fuck about an oxford comma.

This was printed in an issue of the Times: “highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

Notice, that it appears to be describing Nelson Mandela as an 800-year-old dildo collecting demigod.

With an Oxford Comma:

“highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod, and a dildo collector.”

The comma after “demigod” changes EVERYTHING.

-Eranmane

The Oxford comma can resolve ambiguity. On Twitter, commas and other punctuation are included in the 140 character maximum. I still use the Oxford comma. Newspapers often drop it in an attempt to save space.

Who do they think they’re fooling? With today’s software, any decent layout editor can account for a few more characters.

If you think the Oxford comma is redundant, try copy editing your own work. Redundant punctuation doesn’t hold a candle to redundant prose.

What do you think? Should Oxford commas be used and/or avoided?

Say it clearly and you make it beautiful, no matter what.

Bruce Weigl, The Impossible

Impossible is a phenomenal exploration of vulnerability, violation, and the sacred. Simply put, it is a beautiful poem. A beautiful poem about childhood sexual abuse.

The language is crude, stark, and lovely. Bruce Weigl understands sound, structure, line breaks … okay, you get the point. This is not what makes Impossible beautiful.

Beautiful writing depends upon truth. Truth is sacred — worth regarding with perpetual, ceaseless awe. Truth requires more than syntax, style, or voice. A lot more.

Truth and beauty are not equivalent, but they are the same.

This much I know:

It takes courage to rip open your chest cavity and reach in. It takes audacity to tear out your heart. And finally, it takes vulnerable strength to hold it – to hold it in humble spaces.

Pleasurable language and attention to craft are not enough.

I’m not a big believer in writer’s block. Most of my motivation issues are fueled by reviser’s block.

When running, I seem to do much better after a warm up and some stretching. I write like I run. Sometimes the warm up is a list of observations. Sometimes I try to answer an unanswerable question.  Sometimes I write mediocre pantoums before switching to free verse.

Here’s one of my favorite warm up prompts :

  1. Create a stockpile of words. Cull the good stuff from magazines, the newspaper, or any other print media. I cut out words and throw them in an old pencil tin. My public libraries sells old magazines for 25 cents.
  2. Invade your stockpile of words. Start by selecting three words at random.
  3. Toss the words over your page. Paste them where they land.
  4. Create a poem by writing around your words.

How do you prepare for writing and revising?

It’s an hour or two until December 1st in my time zone, and I’m here to report my failures and successes at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I set off at the beginning of the month as a NaNo rebel. My goal was to write and revise 30 poems in 30 days.  I failed.

Instead, I wrote and revised 20 poems. Some are awesome, some are awful, and some are awe-inspiring (by my estimation). I’ve never written at such a breakneck pace; I spent countless hours working on this project. Next time, I’m going to count.

So I failed hardcore, but here’s the great news: my writing has improved significantly. I learned to observe closely, experiment with persona, and play with tone. I delved into syntax.

Writing the Life Poetic, Ordinary Genius, and Sin and Syntax were my literary guides in the trenches. I highly recommend all three.

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